Tate "Talker" Walker has spent most of his life hiding his scars under a bright punk facade, and until he sat next to Brian Cooper on a bus, it worked. But Brian has spent his whole life being the invisible man, and he's used to looking below the surface. What he sees in Talker is a fragile and lovable human being.
Brian is outwardly straight, but Talker is desperate for love, and when Talker's behavior leads to some painful consequences, Brian is forced to come out of his closet—in dramatic fashion. He'll do anything to make sure Talker sees that he's the Prince Charming Talker has always needed.
Two men who have grown up lonely, in need, unsure. Two boys who meet and just click, like that, no questions asked. They couldn't be more opposite. One gay, one straight. One scarred, one beautiful. One brave, one shy. Both hurting. Clearly they are right for each other.
As the story progresses, it's also clear they love each other. Clear they are in love with each other.
But Ms. Lane has kept them apart, as any good romance writer would. Not by just putting a barrier between them. She's put the fucking Berlin Wall between them, and each brick in that wall is made from all the kindness and care they've shown each other since they met.
How does one create conflict for characters out of the very feelings you actually want them to feel for each other? I have no idea. More to the point, how do you break that wall down without destroying everything they've built together? Obviously, you have to read the book to find out if she manages it, but I will tell you this: three pages into this book, I was so hooked on Tate, I actually stopped reading because I knew I wouldn't be able to stand it if something bad happened to him. It took me a week to work up the nerve to get back into it.
Like Tate, I was slower to warm to Brian, not because he's not likeable, but exactly for the reason Tate didn't get it right away: I just didn't see Brian. He's the narrator, everything is seen through his pain at watching Tate struggle, and yet...I didn't see him. Not right away.
And then WHAM. Every bit of him bursts wide open and I've never read 100 pages so fast in my life. I needed to get to the end, to see how it all came out. And so do you.
Just when I thought this book was heavy, in a gut-busting way, Ms. Lane drops one of those phrases that is just so much her natural, gifted, zing of pure brilliant snicker, it had me releasing all that tension, bringing me back down.
...bowing Brian into the bathroom like it was the grand ballroom of the Fantabulous Kingdom of Gay.
Because being roommates for almost a year might not have clued Tate in to how basically boring his roommate was, right?
"You suck me any harder and you’ll be choking on my eyeballs."
"What guy does that for someone he doesn’t want to sleep with?"
Oh yes, you will fall for Talker. You will fall hard and fast, and he will break your heart like he did mine. I would not have missed this read for the world.