Full disclosure: I’ve written a novel set in Baltimore. When I found this one I was a little excited to see how someone else would see Baltimore. It was fun seeing references to street names I knew and places I could kinda guess the locations of. I played “what place were they actually thinking of when they talked about this place”. That was nice.
I really wanted to like this book. There were some problems with pacing and some plot devices that I was uncomfortable with. “I’m not gay, but I’m going to pretend to be to get back at my father” isn’t really cool. Adding in a subplot of “and if you pretend to be my boyfriend you can get back at my dad for this thing that happened to your dad when you were 13” thing was contrived.
It was also hard to like the characters. They’re out-of-the-box character types: one’s an uptight, tidy perfectionist (Nate) and the other’s a trust-fund party boy (Kellan). Neither of them is particularly nice. When the story opens it’s established that these two people haven’t spoken to each other in fifteen years (they had a falling out at age 13, when Nate came out). What kind of guy walks up to what is essentially a stranger and says “dude, be my pretend boyfriend”?! An asshole, that’s what kind. What kind of guy says “Ok, but blow me first”? Also an asshole.
The author makes it clear that Kellan is a perpetual liar, cheater, and that he enjoys using people. She then asks us to believe that a few days living with Nate is enough to make Kellan decide that he’s in love, ready to settle down, become a better person (the party boy magically gets a job working with the elderly and brain-damaged patients because he helps a little old man get to an adult daycare center), and totally into guys. Or, you know, Nate at least.
I’m not a fan of the “It’s OK if it’s you” trope.
There’s an attempt to avert it with mentions of “that time at camp” which is beyond a trope and into cliche and doesn’t help make Kellan any more convincing or kind.
When Nate and Kellan do finally get together there’s no relief or happiness. It not “happily ever after.” It’s barely “happily for now”. It’s more like “this will all end horribly in two or three months”.