An obvious spin-off from the author's "To Hell and Back" series, this one is a first chapter-to-epilogue angst trip that is saved from tedium by Felice Steven's exceptional way of using the English language on every single page...oh, plus two very interesting but not entirely sympathetic (at first) characters.
Nice Jewish boys in New York are a hallmark of Stevens' work, and in this one we have a lapsed, worldly 32-year-old one in Noah and a lapsed but Orthodox-raised one in 28-year-old Oren. I found it a bit strange that when they started to get to know each other that Noah had not been that familiar with the Orthodox from Brooklyn, but that could just be because he was brought up by his mother on-the-road as a world-famous fashion model. Of course, Noah does not get off that easily, either--his mother is portrayed as quite pushy and cold, only interested in his beauty and how it can make money instead of his profession as a famous radio host and burgeoning shrink.
The way Oren's "guilt" (what else to call it?) upsets the development of the relationship, as well as his personality and life in general, may be surprising to some, but not those from cities where a relatively high concentration of Jews, Italians and Irish residents wade through their own versions every day.
However, that guilt is vastly overshadowed by the professional abuse Oren suffers and stupidly tolerates at the hands of a couple of lawyers in his firm who actually put him up to the scheme which eventually brought him and Noah together. I was annoyed for a while at how both Oren and Noah seemed to ignore this abuse--until it popped up in a most propitious way.
Indeed, propitious is a good word to describe a lot of what goes on in this one because at virtually every turn a character from the "Through Hell and Back" series sneaks his nose under the tent and things move right along.
There are a lot of moments here where you might be tempted to say, "Oy! already," but in the end there is nothing to really complain about. Oh, except that the cover really does not do any justice to how beautiful these men are supposed to be, but then again, I am a cover freak.
It will not be out of the realm of possibility to expect a follow-up in this series. And the character who should be one of the MCs is amply on display in this sweet, if sometimes eye-arching, saunter through Brooklyn and Manhattan by two nice Jewish boys who eventually get around to being on the make for each other.