As the titular character, everything about Eli would have made it easy for him to overshadow everything about this romance. However, Novak is adept at character, which always brings her storytelling to the next level. Not only does Tristan’s solid sweetness function as more than a match for Eli’s sharper edges, but these men exist within the strong foundation of the supporting characters that truly bring this book to life.
I love the focus of drag as an art form that Novak emphasizes in this story, especially how Eli outlines how even this art form can be prescriptive and exclusionary and how he chooses to combat those notions. The fun climax of this story brings that to life while also featuring plenty of familiar faces from other Novak books that I thoroughly enjoyed. This book can stand alone, but Novak hits the perfect balance with her cameos to create a real treat for established fans.
Overall, this low-angst book highlights how much fun an opposites-attract dynamic can be to reveal when both main heroes are settled in their personalities. That’s when the differences between them can spark excitement in lives that are otherwise settled, which is always a fun ride. Though the spicy bits are fun (with a subtle touch of kink), I also thoroughly enjoyed the moments outside the bedroom when these characters truly deepened their emotional connection. Novak also capitalizes on the “brother’s best friend” trope by not shying away from creating a direct conflict between Eli and his brother that is a striking part of their relationship even before Eli and Tristan fall for each other. Tristan does not fix the bond between the two brothers, but his involvement in both of their lives brings the heart of their issues into stark relief.
This book sets up a wonderful new series of the delightful members of a blended family finding their happily ever afters (and forever loves). I look forward to the next installments and hope that Tristan, Eli, and Eli’s amazing alter ego continue to make appearances.