No matter what he tells himself, wealthy NYC architect Liam has never been able to forget his first love, Ben. But as he approaches midlife and realizes something is missing, can he forgive himself for the worst mistake he ever made—the one that left a hole no amount of career success can fill? Or will fear keep him from the full life he really wants?
Liam and Ben were childhood sweethearts, then college boyfriends. But when Liam cheated on Ben, Ben forced himself to cut ties and move on. He’s still living in the small town where they grew up, teaching, but it’s not the life he imagined for himself as a younger man. Still, when Liam returns, he can’t risk his heart again. He certainly can’t allow himself to love Liam again after fighting so hard to get over him.
Neither man wants to let go of the past and face their apprehension at starting over. They don’t want to fall in love a second time—but sometimes love happens whether it’s wanted or not.
Secondary characters in m/m – the women
Female characters sometimes have a hard time in m/m romance. The main characters don’t want to sleep with them, so some authors don’t seem to have much interest in them, either.
For me, though? If I were to go through my books and pick out my favourite people, I bet a big chunk of them would be my female secondary characters.
The romantic leads are great and everything, but they’re too damn serious! They’re going through big crises and having explosive emotional experiences and that’s all great, but… it doesn’t make me want to pour a glass of wine and just hang out with them.
No, it’s the secondary female characters I want to be friends with. We’d laugh at the male leads together, but then try to help them out with our superior wisdom… we’d be excellent.
In All That Glitters, Dinah is the wife of Ben’s best friend, and a friend of Ben’s in her own right. So when Ben re-encounters an old love after a long time apart, Dinah’s right there to wring the details out of him. And later on, when she gets the old love alone, she gives him the treatment, too. Dinah is a force of nature, and I love her!
Ben and Dinah excerpt
“What does he look like?” Dinah asked. She and Seth had been reasonably discreet while Tamara was with them all in the yard, but now that Seth was off supervising Tamara in the bath and Dinah and Ben were relaxing on the back patio with well-earned drinks, the questions were coming out. “I’ve seen old pictures, obviously, but has he aged well? Sometimes guys like that—I mean, he was so pretty, wasn’t he? Sometimes they kinda lose it when they fill out. Is he still pretty?”
Yup, there it was again. The same conflict, the same desire to talk about Liam, to obsess over him, fighting with the absolutely commonsense instinct to avoid the topic and work on banishing him from Ben’s mind. But Dinah was his hostess and was making pleasant conversation—it would be churlish to shut her down. “He’s not so pretty. But he still looks good. Just in a different way.”
“Still has the cheekbones, though?”
“Really, Dinah, where would his cheekbones go?”
“They could get buried under fat. That happens. Or just—I don’t know. Saggy skin, maybe?”
“We’re in our thirties. I don’t think we need to worry about saggy skin. Not yet.”
She took a sip of her lemonade, then said, “You’re still pretty, in case you were wondering. A bit more manly than in the old pictures, but if I compare now-you to then-you, I’d say you’re still at least as good-looking. He wouldn’t have seen you and been disappointed. In case you were wondering.”
“He’s spent more time with Uncle Calvin than he has with me. Whatever he was doing in North Falls, it had nothing to do with how good-looking anyone is. And he’s gone back to the city now—at least, he was supposed to have—so none of this is important anymore.”
“Was it important before? When he was still here?”
“No.” But Ben really tried not to lie to his friends so he added, “It might have felt important. But it wasn’t.”
“I guess so. I mean—he’s gone. We cleared the air, which was good, and he’s gone back to the city. Which is also good. He’s got a life there.”
“A career,” she said with a sage nod. “And you know about all that because you’ve googled him a bunch of times over the years, right? You probably have an alert set up for any mention of his name.”
“Lots of people Google-stalk their exes every now and then.”
Right now, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like…because RL happens. I’m having a good week if I can read one full book, and listen to half an audio book…again, RL. It usually takes me about five days right now to read a 250 page book. I read All That Glitters in two days, that says a TON about this book for me. In addition, I will admit I was a bit scared to read it. If you read the blurb carefully, you’ll see that Liam cheated on his boyfriend Ben years previously (there are mentions/discussions about it in the book, but no “on screen” cheating), and having been in that situation, I was not sure it was something I wanted to read about. But it was Kate Sherwood, and I had to hope that she would make it so I could get through without too much pain. I need not have worried. I didn’t even cry! (Okay, I got a little teary eyed, but I was expecting it would be an ugly cry, so I was happy!)
Man…Ben made Liam work for it, he really did. And to be fair, Liam deserved to work for it. He messed up badly when he cheated, more than once, on Ben. Meanwhile, Ben realized that he was a party to it, by not confronting the situation, despite knowing what was happening behind his back. However, what I appreciated the most was the the author made Liam a deeply flawed character. He clearly had spent years trying to be an image of himself that he thought he needed to be, he kept trying to live up to that, and yet kept coming back home, because he knew that was where his heart was, not just with Ben, but with everyone in North Falls. Liam had spent years trying to amass enough money and prestige, and yet never was satisfied, always wanting to be the one who won, who left the indelible mark.
Ben, at the same time, was afraid of being hurt again, and so avoided it at all costs. He lived in the same town, had the same friends, and worked at the same elementary school he’d gone to as a child. He even had dated a nice steady man, one he knew would not be able to hurt him, but still missed and loved the man who’d broken his heart so completely. His lack of trust for Liam was evident in so many ways. I loved how immediately upon seeing Liam he was still so angry and raw, cursing at him, telling him to leave. It was evident that his pain was as real as the day Liam left, and he wanted the source of that pain away from him. Yet, Liam could not keep himself from going back to North Falls, not necessarily to see Ben, but because he needed the grounding of the town and the people who’d known him his entire life.
On a side note, the secondary characters (including the wife of Ben’s best friend, Dinah, who Kate discusses about) are fantastic in this story. Calvin, well, if every reader doesn’t fall in love with Calvin and his rather pushy matchmaking skills, I will be very surprised. Even Seth, who himself was hurt when his two best friends split up, and Liam went to NYC, couldn’t help but be a little bit of a matchmaker as well. Even Liam’s parents provided some hilarious entertainment (who knew!) while discussing their next stage in life.
This book isn’t about sex either (as I’ve said before there doesn’t have to be a lot of on screen sex for me to love the read, and this is a perfect example for me), it is about love, and the recapture of it, after it has been split right down the middle, cut apart, and then slowly, one painstaking stitch at a time, sewn back together. It was about a deeply flawed character not only trying to get back the love of his life, but find a new life of his own, and a new love of himself. None of that could happen without the love of the man he’d been missing for years, and the time he spent reconnecting with a place and the people that had been the best part of his life.
I highly recommend this book. (And PLEASE don’t let the “cheating” throw you off as a reader…I promise, I don’t like it either, but it is off page, really tells a part of the story that is important to learning who these characters are now, and how they became the men they needed the other to be.)
4.5 pieces of eye candy
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!
Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!
Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?
Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.
When she’s not writing as Kate Sherwood (m/m romance), there’s always Cate Cameron (m/f romance, YA romance) and Catherine Dale (everything else). There are so many stories just waiting to be discovered!
Social Media Links:
booklives.com (website and blog)
Kate has generously offered a giveaway today of All That Glitters AND an ecopy of anything from her backlist. Lots of ways to enter! Enjoy!
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