One More Time, by Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 21, 2015)
Page Count: 200 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Wanting to start over after breaking off a relationship with his married boss, Caleb Robinson is happy to move from Los Angeles to Thornwood, Colorado. He can barely find the town on a map, which is just the kind of place Caleb needs. He’s not looking for a relationship, and Thornwood looks to be the perfect place to get lost in his art. But when Thornwood’s local police officer, Trent Williams, knocks on Caleb’s front door, both men have an instant attraction to each other, and Caleb’s plans for solitude might have to change.
But he soon learns that Trent is a legendary one-night-stand man for a very special reason. His boyfriend has been kept on life support for the past five years after a serious skiing accident. Even though Simon isn’t expected to wake up and Trent says he’s trying to get past him, he won’t entertain anything that comes close to commitment. As compelling as their attraction is, Caleb doesn’t want to be just another hook-up, and he won’t be the other man. But Trent isn’t sure he can risk the pain of losing someone else he cares about, no matter how intense the chemistry between him and Caleb.
I have very mixed feelings about this novel. It’s a really sweet story about two men who are both struggling to understand their attraction to one another, and who have both been hurt in the past by relationships. But there were also things about both characters that prevented me from enjoying the story.
Caleb’s last relationship was with his boss in LA… his married boss, whose wife was less than pleased (understatement!) when she found out about her husband’s cheating. Trent has been hurt in a different way, though; his last serious relationship was with the love of his life, who has now been in a coma for several years. But Trent is unable to move on from that loss, and fills his life with meaningless sex as a way of coping.
One of the things I really loved about this novel was the pacing. It was excellently written, and Caitlin makes sure not to rush to put Trent and Caleb in a relationship together. It feels very organic, and Caleb constantly questions his feelings toward Trent and whether he is ready to get into another relationship.
He got back into his car, and I stood there wishing I could have said yes to whatever he’d been offering. But two months was not long enough to get over someone and start something new, so I let him go and went back inside to my TV, my attention-hungry clients, and the box of cookies I’d call dinner.
Trent is a pretty complicated character. He’s made himself mentally dependent on anonymous sex in order to be emotionally comfortable. Whenever he’s in a rough place, or stressed, he finds an anonymous hook-up and it helps him feel better. I can really appreciate a complex character like this, although he couldn’t make up his mind about Caleb! Obviously he’s attracted to Caleb, but his mind makes him think he only needs Caleb for meaningless sex, not an emotional attachment.
And Caleb, who’s been burned by his last relationship, won’t do meaningless sex. He needs that connection, and it hurts that Trent refuses his attempts to get close.
“He’s an asshole who sleeps around.”
Caleb sounded so bitter saying that, and it made me flinch because I slept around too. “Like me,” I couldn’t help saying.
The first person point of view really sucks, though. I’m sorry, plain and simple, but it did not work for me in this story. It shifts back and forth between Caleb and Trent’s POV, and I kept getting confused.
Overall a really enjoyable read. Trent and Caleb aren’t easy to relate to, but the fact that they’re both well-written, fully-realized characters with complicated motivations really helps me appreciate them.
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