Author: Shannon West
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Characters: Brad Bennett, Nick Darby
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Nick thought he’d been through just about everything life could throw at him, including being wounded in Afghanistan. He’s working as an ROTC officer at a university, and is struggling along. Then he sees English professor Brad, a ghost from his past, a man he’s wanted for many years.
Brad is straight, and when Nick tried to take their friendship to the next level, he lost a good friend. Now Brad is back and on a reckless mission. He has come to find Nick and discover if they can make a go of it as lovers. If they fail, they’ll lose each other—this time for good.
I’m a sucker for friends-to-lovers romances. Make it estranged friends who reunite and somehow find a way to fall in love and be together and it’s even better. So, when I read the blurb to this book, I knew I had to give it a shot. I know I can’t resist reading about a hunky, alpha military man being in love with a bookish, professor and although I had a few niggles throughout the story, I ended up liking it and I’m glad I read it.
For the past year, Nick has been working hard to recover from his leg wound he received in Afghanistan. Because of his wound, Nick was afraid he would have to leave the military forever, so when a job as an ROTC officer at a local college, Nick jumped at the chance to do it. Although, he likes his job and has made some friends, Nick is still not happy. He’s lonely and often thinks of his estranged best friend, Brad, whom he once loved but was rejected by.
One day Nick finds out that his old friend, Brad is now working as a professor at the same college. Angry and hurt, he’s shocked when his colleagues ask Brad over for their poker game, but since his friends have no idea about their past, Nick decides to take the high road and try to act like Brad being invited as well as his presence does not bother him. But once Brad arrives, Nick can’t keep from drinking a little too much, making the hostility and hurt he feels toward Brad visible for all to see.
Brad knows he has a lot to make up for. He knows he’s hurt Nick, but since he’s finally able to accept the love and attraction he feels for his former best friend, he’s willing to eat a little crow to make things up with Nick. Although, Brads says he’s prepared for Nick’s hostility and anger, he’s still hurt by Nick’s inability to forgive him for what he had done in the past. Nick seems determined to keep them apart, but Brad is also relentless at trying to do what he can to get back into Nick’s good graces. Soon, both men are forced to decide what they really want in life. They must either face past haunts and hurts if they are ever able to find a future together. Will Brad ever get Nick to forgive him and take a chance in a once in a lifetime love?
I liked this book. It’s a quick read and the two heroes really jumped off of the written pages. Both Nick and Brad must look deep in their heart and decide if being together is really what’s best for them. At one time both men obviously had a wonderful relationship, but when Brad pushed Nick aside with some hurtful words, and once he was injured in Afghanistan, I think it really changed Nick into becoming an almost bitter man.
I understood this bitterness. Nick’s in constant pain, and every day is a new challenge for him to get out of bed and go on with his life. Brad’s rejection has forced him to put some walls around his heart, and he’s not the warm man he once was before they split apart. But I almost think Nick was too angry and bitter at times. He lashes out at Brad time and time again, and when he decides to forgive Brad, he still makes Brad do something that I thought was a little over the top. I found myself wondering if Nick will really be able to truly forgive Brad, and if they’ll really be able to stay together in the end.
I did like Brad’s determination to be with Nick. I admired Brad’s strength and patience he had with him, even when I wasn’t sure if Nick deserved it. Brad is truly sorry for what he said, and fights to be part of Nick’s life again. There was one point when I wanted Brad to tell Nick off, but instead Brad just becomes even more stubborn and fights to win Nick’s love and forgiveness. (Which I’m really glad he did)
Even though I had some issues with the story, I still liked it. I did think the two heroes had some intense chemistry together and I thought there was some true affection between them. Badass gave me a couple of hours of much needed escapism from my everyday life, and I really enjoyed it. I also liked the easy style of writing this author has, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.
Reviewed By: Gabbi