I was intensely curious about Jack’s brother Charlie after reading Better Than People, so I was very pleased to see that this book would be about him. Alas, the animal content of this book isn’t quite as high as the previous one in the series – only two cats. But gosh, Jane and Marmot are pretty amazing cats.
When Rye inherits a house from a grandfather he never met, it seems too good to be true. But given he’s been couchsurfing in Seattle, he makes the trek to Garnet Run and discovers that, yup, the house is a rundown mess. With no other options, he sets out to fix up the place, even though he has no experience with home repair. Luckily the super hot guy that runs the hardware store keeps offering to help…
“This looks like quite the job. Do you have people helping you? Experience in demo and construction? Because if you want—”
“Either you’ve got a mad hero complex or you’re bossy as hell, man,” Rye said.
Charlie drew himself up to his full height, which wasn’t insignificant.
“Who says it isn’t both?” he said.”
Charlie’s got a bit of a savior complex. Part of it is that shortly before he turned eighteen, his parents died, and he had to raise his teen brother Jack on his own, as well as take over the family hardware store. He’s been so focused on doing everything possible to make his brother happy that he’s not so good at taking care of his own needs. He’s a caretaker by nature, and Rye is definitely someone who initially seems to need a lot of care-taking – and also someone who’s hardwired to not accept it. Rye’s had a rough time and he can’t quite understand just why Charlie insists on helping him, or letting him and his cat stay at his place. But as both men being to let their walls fall down, they figure out that they have a lot more in common than they’d suspected.
Charlie and Rye are so cute together. Charlie’s a big stern handy dude while Rye’s a prickly lean guy who pretty much exclusively wears black band t-shirts. Charlie is so used to taking care of everyone else that he’s not sure what to do when someone asks him what he wants, or tries to take care of him. Rye understands Charlie’s need for independence, but at the same time sees how isolating it is. Rye’s used to taking care of himself, too, but he also comes to realize that getting help for others – and then returning that help – is OK. The bleak moment fit really well into their relationship, and I loved how that was taken care of as well.
“Rye’s kiss had stirred his memories and his desire. But it was what Rye said that stoked it. Rye wasn’t sorry he’d kissed Charlie. He’d wanted to do it. And so he had.
What might it be like to simply desire something, and then let himself have it?”
This is the second book where one of the main characters is a virgin. The opportunity – and desire – to have a relationship has been pretty much nil for Charlie, and he has a lot of things to work through in regards to his sexuality. What I especially loved, though, was that it showed all of the discussions between Rye and Charlie to figure out what they were both comfortable with. Consent done well is total catnip for me, and this is definitely that.
Given that they’re brothers, of course there’s several cameos with the main couple from the previous book. Most importantly to me, there’s some reconciliation between Jack and Charlie in terms of what Charlie gave up to take care of him. It was sweet and fit in very well with the overall storyline. There’s also little Easter eggs for the Riven series!
Overall, I’ve very much enjoyed the Garnet Run series so far. While I wouldn’t say this one was as fluffy as the first, it’s still very enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.