I’m really sensitive to second-hand embarrassment, so while I was excited to read this book, I dreaded the inciting incident warned about in the description. Lindsey starts the story by dropping us right into the event, so at least I didn’t have to stress about when it would come. Even better, I felt that they handled the situation in a way that left me with feelings of poignancy for Caleb rather than strict discomfort. Regardless, the event does a great job of setting up Caleb’s character, especially as he also starts to understand how his previous relationship has been making him sink so low for so long.
Enter Bodhi, who Caleb’s friends claim is an absolute cinnamon roll. I never quite saw that, which I’m not mad about, because that facet of his character is tempered by both Caleb and Bodhi’s points of view. What I didn’t quite get was Bodhi’s attraction to Caleb, especially considering how judgmental Caleb is toward him for much of their employer/employee relationship. But as they grow closer, Lindsey sets up a fascinating intersection of how both men express their stress but then must also deal with the negative external associations, proving that they are more alike than they know. This isn’t an “enemies to lovers” story so much as Caleb doing excellent personal work for the “asshole to lovers” journey to be genuinely impactful.
Overall, this book was relatively low angst compared to what I usually expect from this author. However, the emotional journey of both characters is still realistic and relevant to the character development. I look forward to Caleb and Bodhi being a core foundation for the rest of the relationships explored in this series, which I’m already looking forward to after meeting so many of the secondary characters here. I especially anticipate Bodhi’s twin Ravi getting his happily ever after and might hope it includes a proper resolution to the issue of their villainous grandparents.
On a formatting note, I’d love to mention that in previous books featuring characters with hearing limitations, Lindsey has used ‘single quotes’ around ASL dialogue. In this book, where the vast majority of communication between all characters is in ASL, Lindsey defaults to the more traditional (in American publications) “double quotes” for all dialogue, regardless of language. I appreciated and support this choice because dialogue and language should be represented in a standardized manner no matter the vehicle. It’s not an issue of “normalizing” ASL so much as it shows how all characters deserve equity in storytelling.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.