When their submarine arrives back at port, Derrick Fox is facing seeing his ex greeting the man who he cheated on Derrick with while no one is waiting for him, his friend Calder Euler has a plan. Calder’s little brother Arthur would be willing to pretend to be Derrick’s fake boyfriend and give him a homecoming that proves he’s over his ex. However, when their kiss goes viral, and Arthur’s mom insists they both come to the Euler family reunion later that week, the two of them are forced to keep the fake dating charade longer than planned. And the longer it goes on, the more their relationship starts to feel real. But Arthur has long maintained he doesn’t date men in the military, and Derrick’s convinced that good things don’t last for him, so could a real relationship between them actually work?
So this is the pretty typical fake dating to real relationship story, but it’s executed very well, and both the main characters are quite charming both individually and as a couple. While it was somewhat predictable, there were some surprises, and the characters were really what got me invested in the story. Derrick is looking for a sense of family in a lot of ways. The Navy has served as that for him, and that’s definitely part of the appeal of continuing the fake dating charade. Arthur very much feels like the odd one out in his family, and he has mixed feelings about it. I really appreciated the fact that Derrick could see both the good and the bad of the Euler family and seeing both how that effects Arthur and what Arthur misses because he’s so used to his family. I do sort of wish that there was some realization on Calder and the rest of his family’s part about how what they perceive as teasing makes Arthur feel alienated from them. Arthur does come to a better understanding about parts of his family over the course of the family, and I wish that they had done so as well. But that’s a minor nitpick and probably the only thing that annoyed me about the book.
Overall, I really liked the character dynamics, especially just how supportive Arthur and Derrick were of each other. From the way that Derrick respects Arthur’s career and the way Arthur encourages Derrick to have things outside of the Navy. They both are doing some reevaluating of some things they’ve believed throughout the book, and they’re both pretty good at communicating with one another. In all honesty, the biggest stumbling blocks in their relationship is themselves, and they both managed not to sabotage their developing relationship too badly. I also like the fact that there’s a fair amount of compromise rather than one character completely giving up something in order to make the relationship work. It a nice satisfying romance. Four out of five stars.
CBR15 Bingo: Hold Steady – Both Derrick and Arthur are kind of stuck in ruts with their thinking at the beginning of the book.