A new Tucker Springs story and one that I was anticipating since I was introduced to Brad and his situation with Jeff in the last book, life is good. I knew it was going to get rough and raw, but I was game to see how this impossible situation would tease out for a happy ending. Even though these were fictional characters, I was still humbled by how hard they fought for their relationship and so sympathetic for the seeming impossible situation they found themselves in- okay, and created to some extent.
The Tucker Springs books are written in such a way that a reader can jump in and start wherever because there are loose connections and little spoilerage to previous books. It is also an unique series in that each book is written by a different author in the pool of authors who write the series. Not only does each pair of characters stamp their story with their own personalities, but the authors do as well.
The story opens with Brad and Jeff, after three years of fighting and on again off again, deciding to try again. Both are tentative and nervous, but their first date and night together is promising and fabulous until Jeff gets the call from his ex-wife and current business partner that sends things from promising back to teetering on the edge, tense and complicated.
Jeff is thrown off when Christine breaks it to him that their little one night ‘what were we thinking’ had a lasting result- a baby is on the way, but then she really piles the stress on when she announces that she’s leaving their co-owned business and leaving Tucker Springs to move back to Denver. Jeff watches how all this is pushing Brad harder than ever just when they are trying to get back together. He’s terrified for the moment when Brad decides that enough is enough.
Brad doesn’t know what to think of these new complications. It was already a secret fear of his that the bi-sexual Jeff still had feelings for his ex, but now he knows they had at least one more moment together plus Christine is moving to Denver meaning the baby that Jeff has always wanted is moving to Denver too. Brad doesn’t want to lose Jeff, but now he senses that it’s more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’. The guy has a business, an ex, a future child, and a boyfriend and Brad’s just not sure where he falls in the priority list or if its even right for him to compete with some of those priorities. Everything is so complicated.
Right! So as you noticed by that description, this was not an easy situation. The plot is very much character driven and it is narrated third person by both Brad and Jeff in alternating chapters. The storytelling was well done along with the deeply sketched characters. There are some dynamics in this romance that gave me something new to think about. I’ve personally never know a person who is bi-sexual and this was my first encounter when a character’s bi-sexual orientation was one of the main issues and its a main issue because the former relationship is still very much in the picture and hoping for a second chance. I mean its talk show stuff: ‘I’m a guy and my boyfriend’s ex-wife is having his baby because they hooked up when we were going through a short separation. Oh and they own a shop and see each other more in a day than I do and I’m pretty sure she regrets letting him go’. Just makes me dizzy thinking about it. Then again, it’s not much different then the second marriage blended family thing so it’s not too far out there.
After reading the story and yes, enjoying it, I’m conflicted about how I felt. And why not? That’s the title theme, right? Complicated? I both cheered on these guys to their happiness, but there was a part of me that wasn’t too keen. I had a decided bias once I got all the details since Brad was going through the wringer with this relationship because of stuff happening outside his control yet it still affected him. That being said, Jeff made some mistakes- mistakes that anyone would make. He knew it and copped to it. I couldn’t fault him for not wanting to lose the love of his life because of what happened in the past as his world was falling apart. I was angry for them because I had to just sit back and watch it all go down. It was especially frustrating because not far in I’d already figured out a workable solution and just had to wait and see if it was the one they would choose so everything worked out (oh and btw? My guess was right and it worked). So I said all that to clue you in so you could ‘gird up your loins’ and prepare to do battle with some legit angst. Haha!
All in all, this was a tough read, but a rewarding one too that lovers of the series should definitely read and lovers of m/m contemporary romance with a tough situation might want to try.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review thoughts.