Look, I couldn’t care less about baseball, and let’s be honest, when it got to the point where it turned out that one main character literally punched the other’s teeth out? I normally would’ve DNF’d the book so quickly! But I trust E.M. Lindsey so I kept going. I’m glad I did, as the way their relationship formed was handled thoughtfully and completely won me over.
“We’re both in a complicated position. I work for you,” he said, and Pietro bit back a groan because he hated the reminder. “You’re in the middle of your season, and I know the stress is a lot.”
Like most of the author’s books, this one has two characters with different disabilities. In Pietro’s case, he has ADHD. He’s got a pretty decent system involving an assistant and lists that help him manage his career as a major league player, but one area he struggles with is food. Quite simply, he can’t cook. After listening to his friends nag him about his TV dinners one too many times, he decides to hire an executive chef. Except the only person who applies to the position turns out to be Thierry, Pietro’s ex’s bodyguard, and the guy who once accused him of cheating and then punched his teeth out. Thierry has a lot of regrets from his friendship with Hervé, and one of those is how he treated Pietro. Another is that after a lifetime of friendship, when Thierry got shot and badly wounded protecting Hervé, he ghosted him. Months of recovery have helped him learn to walk again, but he still has mobility challenges. Since being a bodyguard was now out of the question, Thierry’s finally exploring his love of cooking professionally, but running into Pietro again is uncomfortable, to say the least. But as the men agree it’d be in both their favors to work together, they decide to try it out. Before they know it, though, it’s not just their stomachs that are involved, but their hearts as well.
“You deserve to be happy.” It wasn’t the first time Chris had said that. He and Sarah had been singing that song since they officially became friends. But it was harder to hear now that something like happy was just beyond his grasp, and all he’d need to do was reach for it. “I haven’t thought about what I want in a long time,” he admitted. Chris pushed up to stand, then dropped a hand on Thierry’s shoulder and squeezed. “I get that. But maybe it’s time to start putting yourself first.”
That’s not to say it’s an easy road for either man. They both are dealing with past trauma, especially related to Hervé, and a metric ton of complicated feelings. They’re both angry, they’re lonely, and neither particularly wants to admit that they’ve always felt a bit of chemistry with the other man. I appreciated that it took time for them to come to terms with their shared past. Of the two characters, Pietro was my initial favorite because he’s so terribly sweet! For example, after realizing that his kitchen’s counters are impossible to use when Thierry’s using his wheelchair, he immediately wants to redo his entire kitchen. His sweetness makes his internal monologues when he’s beating himself up for having ADHD even rougher to read, but it definitely felt true to my experience. But Thierry grew on me as well. Of all the passages I highlighted, most were from his point of view. Much like Pietro has to learn that his ADHD doesn’t make him lesser, Thierry’s left trying to figure out a new path in life while dealing with the wreckage of his past.
Both Pietro and Thierry have supportive friends, and Pietro’s teammate James was a special favorite. As for the baseball portion, well, my lack of knowledge wasn’t a particular hindrance, but that also means I’m extremely unqualified to judge how well it was done! A minor quibble: several times I checked to make sure this was the first in the series as Pietro’s brother is part of a couple, and there were hints that their story had already been told. It turns out that there is a previous book that was initially released as a serial novel, so if that sort of thing would bug you as well, I’d recommend picking that one up first.
Overall, another excellent book from E.M. Lindsey, and I can’t wait to read whatever they write next!
I received an advance review copy of this book from Grey’s Promotions. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.