Ten years ago Zeke Malloy had everything:
A happy childhood, a shot at a state championship wrestling title, a best friend, a boyfriend (albeit a secret one but that was okay because, once they graduated, that would change).
He had love, happiness……a heart.
All of that changed in the blink of an eye.
One moment he was deliriously happy, looking forward to a future with Digger Brandt, building a life, a home, a forever, with him.
And then it was gone, disappearing like the tears that flowed down Zeke’s cheeks as he watched from the back of the church as Digger married Lisa – with his father sitting proudly in the front pew. Those tears were still flowing when he walked out of that church and went directly to the nearest recruiting office. Because he didn’t just lose the love of his life that day, he lost his hopes, his dreams, he lost…..himself.
For the next ten years he was a machine – the best Marine, the best friend, but like a machine, he did it all without a beating heart. His was dead…..or was it?
Was ten years too long?
Was a broken heart too much?
Zeke didn’t know. Hell, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know.
From the moment Digger walked up behind him and said in that smooth, sexy voice that used to light Zeke up six ways from Sunday, “The man I knew never had a problem with it,”, the only thing Zeke knew now was that he was about to find out.
Book Title: Who We Used to Be (Do-Over Series, Book 1)
Author: Dara Nelson
Publisher: Dare Publishing
Cover Artist: Dara Nelson
Cover Photo: Dan Skinner/DWS Photography
Release Date: June 15, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: Second-chance love
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: 51 356 words/280 pages
Zeke stared at the amber colored liquid in his glass while trying to figure out what he was feeling. That was just the thing. He wasn’t feeling anything.
He was numb.
If he really allowed himself to think about it, he’d been numb for a decade. Since the day he’d opened his front door and had seen that invitation sticking out from under his doormat. That was the last day he’d felt anything at all. And what he’d felt then was total, utter devastation as he collapsed onto the porch swing as those words penetrated his brain. Such a profound sense of not only sadness, but the devastating knowledge that life as he knew it was over.
Everything he thought he knew was shattered.
How could he do this?
Everything he thought he could have was gone.
Did he know her? Had he been cheating the whole time?
And anger – god there was so much anger.
The cowardly fucker didn’t even have the balls to look him in the eye when he destroyed him.
He swore he could feel his heart shattering into a million pieces. It was also the day that he lost all hope of finding his happily ever after.
It was the day he was forced to come to terms with the fact that he and Digger were not meant to be.
Shit. Every time one of Zeke’s crappy relationships ended, he always thought of Digger.
Digger Brandt. The first boy he’d kissed. The first boy he’d touched. The first…and only…. boy he’d ever loved.
Digger Brandt. The man who had destroyed Zeke Malloy. Ruined him for all others.
“Fuck,” he mumbled as he scrubbed a hand over his face. He really needed to stop doing this.
He had to find a way to get over Digger Brandt once and for all.
As he brought his glass up until it touched his lips, he felt a presence behind him, the heat of someone close, someone big, someone strong, someone that Zeke might be able to get lost in.
“I don’t bottom,” he said, getting that shit outta the way right quick.
A deep chuckle rumbled out of the man’s chest. It was so sexy it made Zeke’s balls tingle.
“The man I knew never had a problem with it.”
Zeke’s eyes squeezed shut.
He knew that voice.
He’d felt that voice.
He’d swallowed that voice into his body when the man came, dozens of times.
He still heard that voice every time he jacked off, despite trying to fight it with everything he had.
If he allowed himself to, he could easily get lost in that voice again.
He shook his head.
No. Not again. Never again.
“The boy you knew doesn’t exist anymore,” he growled and then he tipped back his glass, welcoming the burn as the liquid slid down his throat.
He felt the change in the man behind him, knew without looking that he’d gone from self-assured, cocky even, to unsteady, remorseful…..guilty.
“Don’t, Digger. Just fucking don’t. Go back to your perfect house, your white picket fence, your beautiful wife, your two point five kids. Go back to whatever fake little happy life you built and leave me the fuck alone.”
God. Ten fucking years of trying to forget him erased in sixty seconds.
He signaled to Joe, the bartender, for another and tried to ignore the fact that he could still feel Digger behind him.
When Digger slid onto the empty stool next to Zeke, he wanted to turn and walk out.
But he couldn’t.
He felt like he was anchored to his spot with a one-ton boulder.
To be honest, he was anchored, but not by a boulder; by a six-foot-one heart-breaking asshole named Douglas Digger Brandt.
Zeke refused to turn and look at the man.
Truth be told, he was afraid to look.
Afraid that he just might drop to his knees and beg the man to love him, to really love him, the way Zeke thought he had all those years ago, the way Zeke had loved him, the way a still fucking loved him.
Hell, he’d probably even offer to be his dirty little secret if Digger asked him to.
Just anything to get the man to touch him one more time.
Nobody had ever touched Zeke the way that Digger had, like he was trying to fuse them together, like he was pulling whatever it was that made Zeke, Zeke, into himself. He didn’t even have to touch Zeke’s dick, although that was amazing too. Just the tips of his fingers on Zeke’s skin or the brush of his lips on his neck made Zeke feel like he was the only thing in the world that mattered.
Everything that was Digger slid effortlessly together with Zeke like the pieces of a perfect puzzle.
A puzzle whose pieces Digger had scattered to the wind the moment he had walked away.
Maybe nobody had ever touched Zeke like that since because he’d never allowed it, because he’d never let someone get that close.
A heartbreak like that was something you never forgot – it changed you.
You ever just in the mood to cry?
That’s where I was when I read this blurb. I knew it was going to be one to kick me in the feels. I was not wrong. Zeke and Digger were young, sure, but there love was so big and important, netiher one of them doubted their forever… that was, until
Zeke came home and found a wedding invitation to Zeke’s very hetero wedding. It all happens before the book starts, but you get the first few chapters of his heartbreak….
Then we get to see Digger’s heartbreak and his reasons that things happened the way they did all those years ago. I have to admit…. I didn’t feel like they were good enough. I mean, he and Zeke were both adults… and ten years is a really long time to let things go on that way when you live with regret every single day and still love each other…. I mean, a decade, especially from that age is like a whole lifetime.
Zeke was in the military, has this whole family of brothers that now apparently own a garage together and kind of remind me of the Golden Girls….
SO MUCH DRAMA!!! With everyone! You could not go one chapter without the most random drama.
Do guys really talk about their feelings and cry that much around each other? I mean, I know good friends and family, I’ve got tons of them….and maybe the guys I know or have read about just don’t get that invested in their friends life or relationships…it was odd to me. I loved that they’re all so close and I love that they all support each other though….but again…. There was so much drama with so many different people, I just couldn’t keep up.
And who was Diggers dad? He was a big shot in the community, sure… but did that mean he could kill people and get away with it, just cuz his son is gay and wouldn’t produce an heir? It was just so unbelievable to me.
Anyway… backing up..here it is ten years later and Digger and his wife are divorced but still best friends, because she wants him to be happy. Another odd part to me… why they let it go on for ten whole years…. But now Digger is back and will stop at nothing to get Zeke to just stop and talk to him. The wife seems kind of crappy about it, but chick, your husband did kind of break the guy… Zeke isn’t having it though… he says at least 125 times that he can’t do this… and the number of times these two jumped to conclusions…. The wrong conclusions just made me want to pull my hair out.
And the ex-boyfriend trashing the house and then coming to ask for money…. So much cringe. I haaaate when bad guys just get away with being bad guys… I needed karmic justice.
Eventually though, after Digger fighting for his man back, things work out the way they’re supposed to. The dad isn’t a problem like I thought he was going to be. I dunno why he seemed so scary well into adulthood, but he was over and done with pretty quickly.
I am very curious about Dallas and Bulldog, but I don’t think I wanna revisit this family of so much meddling and drama. I think I’ll leave it here. I’m glad everything worked out for these two, second chances are always satisfying, and I liked both guys and loved them together, but this one just wasn’t for me. It was just too much….
2.5 Pieces of Eye Candy
I did not choose to write…..writing chose me
Kendel Duncan is the pen name for Dara Nelson. Why a pen name? I first chose it because I was initially writing in two different genres (M/F Paranormal and Gay Romance). I’ve since transitioned into a strictly gay romance author – writing romance, action, suspense and second chance romances.
I’ve tackled subjects that I’m very proud of, including losing a spouse, living with HIV, among other things.
I was born and raised in the Bay Area of Northern California but have made my home in the Pacific Northwest for more than two decades. My husband & I live on a small farm surrounded by chickens, goats, 5 dogs, and a cat, in the shadow of stunning Mt Rainier.
With my grown children and grandchildren nearby, my life is always busy, happy and full of laughter.
I am an active Blogger, having created Love Unchained Book Reviewsout of my love for all things reading – mostly MM books.
Owner of Dare Publishing & Design– Offering quality, affordable services for indie authors, including:
Editing, Publishing, Book Cover Design and more!
When I’m not on the phone with my best friend (which is at least once every day) – I am an avid, addicted reader. It is my passion, my escape, my joy
And I am most definitely a writer. The characters in my head are constantly demanding that their story be told.
But above all that – I am a human being. My passion for people is unparalleled, my firm belief in Love is Love unwavering, my hope that all can be accepted, undying. I do not write because I want to, I do it because I haveto. I write because these voices, these beautiful men, have chosen me to tell their stories – and how damn lucky am I for that?
As an author, I write under both my name and my pen name (Kendel Duncan), with total transparency and honesty.
Dara Nelson is the author of:
Author of the successful ‘Healing Hearts’ series (Love in the Aftermath, Love After Chaos, Love Worth Fighting For – and more to come soon)
“5 stars5 stars Amazing!!”
“This is not your average romance story. It is so much more. A book that touched my heart.”
“OMG!!! This was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read.”
“This is the first time I’ve read anything from Dara Nelson, but it won’t be the last. I need more of her writing!”
Under the pen name Kendel Duncan:
Author of the popular & critically acclaimed ‘Black Ops Heroes’ series and the new top-selling ‘Doyle Global Securities’ series
“I can’t recommend Kendel Duncan or Black Ops Heroes ENOUGH!!!! OMG, everyone who likes strong vulnerable men will love these stories!!!”
“I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK AND THIS AMAZING SERIES!!!!!”
“I love how you keep the story going and keep all the characters interesting. Can’t wait for the next book!”
“The emotions are so raw and just I don’t have the right words to express how amazing the books are. You have to read them to understand. I can’t wait for the next installment!!”