I had the pleasure of getting to read an ARC of this book (though I also bought it on release day because I loved it so much), and I'm so glad I did. I also happened to read it the day after finding out some wonderful news about my mom, but more on that in a little bit.
This book focuses on one of my favorite book couples, Geoff and Eli. I recently dove head first into the M/M romance world after avoiding it for quite some time. It's not that I have anything against being gay, but as a straight woman, I wondered how easily I could relate to a gay relationship between two men. Then I took a chance on Andrew Grey, among other authors.
What drew me initially to Andrew's books was how real his protagonists are. They are never perfect, but they don't have to be. You know his characters wll struggle in some form or another, but you also know that they'll fall in love in the end. When I read that Andrew was revisiting the couple first couple from his Love Means... series, I HAD to read it. When I saw that it tackled that dreadful disease, cancer, I especially had to read it for two very important reasons.
Cancer has touched my life twice this year. The first was 6 months ago when I found out that my daddy's best friend, and my pediatrician for years, had been diagnosed with end stage lung cancer. He'd gone from being this vibrant man who golfed with my dad just 2 weeks before his diagnosis, to passing away less than 2 months after receiving the news. The scarier part? Just a couple of months after his funeral, I was visiting my sister's new baby and got the terrifying news that my mom had had a mammogram and they'd found a lump. It was breast cancer.
WHAT I LIKED:
I didn't know going into the story that Eli's cancer was lung cancer, and I'm not sure I would've been able to read it to be honest, given we lost such a good family friend to lung cancer. I would've missed out on so much. This book addressed the very real fears you go through with someone who's suffering from the disease. This book is not for the faint of heart. Your heart will break when Geoff and Eli get the diagnosis. You will tear up as they struggle for some sense of normalcy battling a disease that doesn't care that you have a family who can't stand the thought of losing you. And this book will ultimately renew the faith that with love, you can get through anything.
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I mentioned earlier that I started reading it just after receiving some wonderful news about my mom. The day before reading it, she found out she has only a 6% chance of having the cancer come back in the next 10 years. Still feeling raw from the death of our close family friend and the roller coaster of my mom's struggle, I wondered how I'd feel about reading it. All I can say is that I couldn't ask for a more well written, ultimately uplifting look at how love really does mean endurance, and to borrow a cliche, can conquer anything.
I would highly recommend readers first read Eli and Geoff's first book, Love Means...No Shame before reading this one. You'll be so much more invested in the characters after experiencing the birth of their love. While not strictly necessary, I also encourage readers to read all of the Love Means books, because you get to revisit many of the couples and it will make this book much more rich.
On a side note, I have found that a number of gay romances lean heavily toward erotica. While there are graphic love scenes in Andrew's books, they don't overwhelm any of his books and I find that they enhance the story instead of bordering on porn like I've found with some other authors.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
Honestly, there wasn't anything.
OVERALL VERDICT: 5/5 Blue Duckies!
Overall, this book will make you believe in love and how it can carry you through anything. Andrew brings the characters to life in such a way that you find yourself fully invested in what will happen to Eli and Geoff. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, if you're gay or straight, I can't recommend this book enough.