A lot of queer stories are stories of families of choice. In If You Want Me Close, Simon has a very close and queer friendly family of birth. He calls is family of blended Czech and Mexican heritage The Borg, because it assimilates everyone. The exception is his friend Ziah, a gay ex-Mormon who is less enthusiastic about the concept of family.
If You Want Me Close is a friends to lovers romance. Simon is comfortably bi and also suffers from chronic depression. When Ziah started working for the same company Simon works for, Simon decided they would be friends. The friendship was cemented when Simon went through a bad bout with his depression and Ziah was there for him. But, something is obviously not quite right, and Simon decides it’s probably his fault. To fix it, he tries to set Ziah up on dates. Ziah hasn’t been honest with Simon on a number of fronts, so things quickly spiral out of control.
I loved Simon’s family and the way he could rely on them and the way they welcomed everyone who came in the door (or might come in the door). I also loved that Ziah is warry and uncomfortable around family, because his family cut him off. I found a lot of the way Simon lived with chronic depression very true – including wanting everyone to have a piece of the thing that helps him survive. Simon’s family lets him be strong and healthy, but also supports him when that’s not possible. He wants Ziah to have that and it takes a while for him to understand that family doesn’t work for Ziah the same way. I loved that Simon and Ziah keep working the problems between them, they keep struggling to say and do the right thing, and even when they are at odds, always acting from the belief that the other deserves love and care.
Two other things I loved: 1) on her website, the author has extensive content warnings and 2) in the Author’s Note, she includes a recommended list of authors who are queer man or transmasc. I am familiar with many of them, but not all. My tbr just got longer.