I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
What About Now by Grace R. Duncan
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Pages: 284 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
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Five years ago, everything went wrong. Braden Kirk and Rafe Jessen’s long-term relationship started unraveling. They stopped talking, fears mounted, then Braden walked in on Rafe and another man, completely misreading the situation. Without giving Rafe a chance to explain, Braden walks out. Out of their home, their relationship, and the game development company they started together in college.
After months of therapy to deal with the attempted rape Braden walked in on, Rafe begins to understand that his dominant tendencies in the bedroom aren’t a bad thing and that Braden’s submission is likely what scared his partner into silence. But Rafe isn’t ready to let go of the man he loves more than life itself. He arranges for himself and Braden to end up on the same charity cruise, knowing Braden won’t let his phobia—terror of vast, deep waters—rule him.
With a plan and twenty-eight days, Rafe is determined to get Braden back, make him see there’s nothing wrong with being submissive, and find a way to get Braden to stay with him when they get home to LA.
This is my kind of book! Full of angst and second chance romance all while finding out who you really are.
Romances of established couples and second chances are among my top favorites. The thought that you can screw up something so bad and yet be able to reconnect again and have the possibility of being happy with the one who got away is something I simply adore and this story delivered for me.
This is the first read from me by the author and I fell instantly in love with the story and the ease of her writing. From the first page I was engaged with Braden and couldn’t wait until Rafe showed up and then he did and I couldn’t stop reading. Normally when I read, I often check the percentage to see how much longer the book is but with this, I just read and ignored everything else but the words on the page.
So, Braden is talked into going on a cruise by his mother and his boss to take a much needed vacation and to support Jacob’s Place with is an LGBT charity. When he gets on the ship and attends the first function, he learns he is to be part of an auction for a date and when the person who “won” him shows up, Braden is shocked. That person is his ex-partner, Rafe, who he hasn’t seen in five long years and from there, we begin to get their story.
We know from the blurb that something happened to keep Rafe and Braden apart for five years and while that seems extreme, matters of the heart can often be and when you need to walk away to save yourself, you do what you have to. Put this “something” brought on a lot of angst between the two men and me, being a self-proclaimed angst whore, could not get enough though I was dying to know what happened.
I won’t go into detail about the incident that caused the separation but for me, I can see why Braden did what he did and why it hurt so much to realize what had really happened. They say hindsight is a bitch and when you add regret to it, it can become crippling but having Rafe go through what he did and do the work to get through it that adds more than I could have hoped for. Was it screwed up what happened? Yes. Were either of the men at fault for it? No. There is a fine line we walk with the ones we love and love itself, it not always rational.
Rafe really grabbed my heart with how grew so much during the five years apart from Braden and once he realized what he wanted, he did everything he could to try and get it back. Not everyone would have the courage to try what he did, and honestly knowing that it could hurt more if Braden rejected him but he does it anyway because he found the one for him and that is worth fighting for.
Braden was beyond lovely and endearing from the start. Knowing how much he’s thrown himself in to work to not deal with what happened with Rafe was heartbreaking. I am sure it seems overkill to walk away like he did and I did like that he questioned if he knew what really happened before Rafe told him the details of that day. The relationship between Rafe and Braden was crumbling and the blame was on them both for not communicating.
I know there are readers who hate miscommunication in books but I am one who kinda digs it. I never thought I would until I was married for a few years and talked to other married couples and realized, it happens. Even the best communicators can get so lost in their own head that they forget to let the other person in on the solo conversation they have in their grey matter… but I digress.
Back to the book.
I loved that the story was told from dual POV’s and how we got glimpses into the men’s pasts with memories from them both as a couple and during their time apart. I think for a story like this, you need to know what each man is thinking and the details that led up to their current situation. Getting the bits of Rafe and Braden when they first met as college roommates to their first kiss owned my hopeless romantic heart. Knowing that they both haven’t lost the love they shared during their separation and how quickly they fell into old patterns, well that could be typical because it’s easy to fall back in to the comfort zone of what we know
But even though endearments and sentiments were exchanged early the men knew there were issues they had to deal with and they were big one but the biggest one was communication and I really enjoyed how it was played out.
Not everyone gets the chance to figure out who they are at a young age and even if you do, there are always new things to learn. For Rafe, that thing was learning that he is a Dominant, that he craves the dominance in bed and from a relationship. He goes about his journey so thoughtful in his research and they why of it all; he knows what he desires and he knows that Braden is the one for him but how does he bring this honestly in the relationship without losing Braden.
When the men finally talk about what was tearing them apart five years ago, it was enlightening. I liked that the author didn’t take it to the extremes and that Braden had been doing a lot of what Rafe wanted without putting a name to his submission and that Rafe was there to guide him through it. Sure, it may seem fast but once again, these two had been a couple previously and had done a few things, they just didn’t realize their roles had names and could have rules/boundaries etc.
Wow. I have rambled, haven’t I?
What About Now really is a story about second chances. It’s a romance about two men who don’t want to be without them man they love and though a misunderstanding led to drastic action and a long term separation, they have a chance at their love again. It’s a story about accepting your needs, communicating them with your partner and hoping the second time around, is even better than the first.