A fragile heart needs extra care.
Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years—boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas—and a difficult homecoming.
Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.
Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?
Is it kind of weird that I don’t want to let this book go?
I mean, ha, I’ve already let it go in the big ways. It’s been written, edited, published. It’s out there for people to read and enjoy. It’s done. That part’s over. But there’s more to writing a book than just setting it free in the world. I think writers have to let it go with their minds and hearts too, so they can move on to the next thing. And that part, well…that’s not coming so easily this time around.
Normally I’m good at multitasking, good at the act of releasing one thing and reconnecting with something else. When I wrote Handle With Care, I was working on two or three other novels all while being pregnant. I was working full time. I was busy. I finished the rough draft, polished it up, submitted it and went on my merry way. Since then, though…
I thought I was busy before. HA! Now I have a baby. Now I have to earn money in other ways, mostly by writing and editing during the hours when said baby sleeps. Very little of that writing is on my own, original work. In fact, the last book I finished on my own, for myself, is…
Yeah, Handle With Care. No wonder I don’t want to let it go. If I do, I face the fact that I’ve got nothing new in the hopper. The next big thing isn’t done yet—I don’t know when it will be done. I kind of feel like Aaron, one of the main characters in Handle With Care, as he contemplates the fact that with his job, he’s never “done.” I kind of feel the same way. I really enjoyed writing this book, and despite the fact that it was produced during what I thought of as a chaotic time, right now I’d love to have those kinds of uninterrupted hours to devote to writing. I wouldn’t trade what I’ve got now for anything, but dang. I was spoiled.
I’m still learning how to adapt to my new status, and my options are a little different than Aaron’s. But I have no doubt that like him, and with a little help, I’ll figure it out.
PS—his way involves the St. Louis Arch, uncharted emotional territory, and a strip club. Could be fun 😉
Cari Z. moved far away from her normal, gritty, work to write Handle With Care, and I loved it as much as some of that gritty work! This Dreamspun Desires category romance was friends to lovers, with a road trip, and a small appetizer of angst all rolled into one. Just the right amount of “I’m gonna need a tissue right here” along with two MC’s who clearly have supported and adored each other most of their adult lives.
What I loved about Aaron was seeing his growth in just the short time that he and Tyler were on this road trip. He didn’t just grow in his relationship with the man he’d loved his entire life, but he grew into a more well rounded man, by allowing himself to enjoy his vacation, letting go of the stress of his job, and what he was leaving behind for others to care for. He was able to enjoy his time with Tyler, but also able to learn to re-engage with family that he had felt disconnected from (for very good reasons).
The reader was able to connect with Tyler, through Aaron, and through small glimpses into his past. However, the strongest connection was in how he clearly felt about Aaron. He made it his goal to ensure Aaron was safe and happy, had fun, and lived. And not just during the book, but even in those moments we glimpsed from their past. To bring this man into his family home, when they were both teenagers, connect him with his own family, and not let him go after it was only the two of them in the area, showed his commitment to Aaron on a day to day basis. It was heart warming, because the reader knew that this was about his deep love for Aaron, as a friend, as a brother, but definitely as the man he wanted to love the rest of his life.
These books are all about the HEA, and Tyler and Aaron definitely got their HEA, but also found a joy with their newly found family, which was so much what Aaron’s journey through this book was about. I enjoyed the road trip, the fun they found along the way to the wedding. But even more so, I loved that they found more than that, they found love in many forms, and embraced it.
4.5 pieces of eye candy
Cari Z. is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She has a wonderful relationship with her husband, a complex relationship with the characters in her head and a sadomasochistic relationship with her exercise routine. She hopes that you enjoy reading what she’s put out there as much as she enjoyed writing it in the first place.
Social media: Twitter: @author_cariz