Read my reviews of previous books in the Heather Bay series:
Though this book nominally stands alone, I’m glad I’ve been following along from the start so that I, too, could be utterly and delightfully confused by the relationship between Theo and Laurie like the rest of the characters in this series. I rode the roller coaster of not knowing whether they were simply best friends and roommates, they were roommates, they were friends with benefits, they were in a secret relationship, they were dating, they were married…the list of potential options really does go on and on. Luckily, Novak doesn’t make the ride stop anytime soon once we finally get a chance to peek into the lives of these two unique characters.
Novak hits almost all the above scenarios at any particular point in this lovely book as the full story between Laurie and Theo unfolds. These men are strong, distinctive characters in their own right, but since the author was so careful never to let them come off as either stereotypes or archetypes as secondary characters in previous installments of this series, I had faith that this would also be the case once they came to the forefront. They were already adorable together, and Laurie’s affection is immediately obvious even when he’s still in denial about their relationship status himself. Though Novak does add a dash of kink to this story, it’s much more about the characters’ personalities than any sort of formal power exchange, and I loved that it serves as a way for them to grow closer and show affection even before their physical intimacy moves to the next level.
Overall, this is a fairly low angst book, but that doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing for the entire story. Growing pains can be awkward even when it involves change for the good, no matter whether the relationship is romantic, platonic, or familial (all of which are also touched on in this book). Death work and sex work, considering the main and secondary occupations of these characters, is a pretty charged combo, but Novak treats both with the respect they deserve and allows the men the freedom to be fully themselves, no matter what that looks like, as both individuals and a romantic pair. These characters were the perfect high note on which to leave Heather Bay, and I know Novak has already made sure it might not be the last we see of this wonderful group of friends.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.