James Cape has been in love with his mother’s best friend Laurie since James was sixteen and Laurie an inaccessible twenty-six. When he’s turned down flat by the older man just after his nineteenth birthday, James’s best friend Al encourages him to forget Laurie and find someone else. And James tries, he really does. But can he cope with his feelings for Laurie, his best friend’s home-life problems, and the deteriorating health of his father, all at the same time? And will Laurie ever notice the young man who’s right in front of him?
Title: One Plus One
Series: Maths, Book Two
Author: P.A. Friday
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 7/31/17
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Contemporary, gay, bi, age gap, friends to lovers, grief, slow burn
Excerpt from Chapter One
James Cape was fourteen years old when he realised he was gay, fifteen when he came out to his best friend, and sixteen when he realised how he’d recognised he was gay in the first place. He’d thought he’d ‘just known’ until his mother’s friend Laurie came over one day with his new boyfriend, Kieran—the first boyfriend he’d ever bothered bringing round—and James had felt his heart explode with jealousy and rage. Kieran couldn’t have Laurie. Laurie belonged with him.
The longed-for relationship wasn’t—quite—as inappropriate as it might have sounded. Laurie was his mother’s friend, yes, but he wasn’t his mother’s age. Gillie, James’s mum, was thirty-nine; Laurie, twenty-six. They’d met online when James was about nine and had made friends over the next year, despite the age gap. When Gillie had discovered that Laurie was a student at the university she herself taught at, she’d invited him over, and he’d become a regular visitor. To start with, James hadn’t been much interested—the gap between ten years old and twenty was a big one, and James had been more interested in playing with Al, his best friend both then and now. Between them, the pair had teased and hassled and joked around with Laurie, treating him as something between a friend and an older brother; but as the years had passed, James’s feelings towards Laurie had changed. He just hadn’t realised quite how much they had changed until Laurie turned up with Kieran by his side.
It wasn’t as if Laurie had never had boyfriends in the past. He had. But he’d never brought them over to James’s house before, and that made all the difference. When Laurie had been at James’s house, he hadn’t belonged to anyone else. He’d been theirs. With Kieran there, the dynamic was different—spoilt. Al, also over for the weekend—as usual—cocked a knowing eyebrow at James’s moodiness and dragged him out for a long walk.
“You don’t like the boyfriend,” Al said when they were in the woods and miles from anywhere. Trust Al to get straight to the point.
James shrugged. “Bit of a wanker, that’s all. Laurie could do better.”
“Mm.” Al didn’t sound convinced. “D’you remember telling me that you weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because Mary MacDonald had bigger tits?”
“What?” James looked at his best mate in bewilderment. “That was nearly two years ago. Why are you bringing that up again?”
“You weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because she was a girl, and you weren’t interested in girls,” Al said bluntly. “By the way, I’m still pissed off it took you nearly a year to tell me you were gay. You can’t have thought I’d give a toss.”
“You’re still the only person who knows,” James pointed out.
James and Al’s school was not the sort of place where it was safe to be ‘out’. James had no intention of telling anyone else about his sexuality until he’d left. Telling Al was different—Al was Al. And he was quite right; James knew he could tell Al anything and Al wouldn’t care. You could say what you liked about Al—and most people did—but he was intensely loyal. To James, at any rate. When it came to relationships, it was a different matter. Unlike James, Al liked girls and had a steady stream of girlfriends, but none of them lasted longer than a month before he got itchy. Usually it was considerably shorter.
“They get so clingy,” Al had complained. “They want stuff.”
“That’s called dating,” James had told him unsympathetically.
He was amazed anyone still agreed to go out with Al, but there was something about his best friend. He had a strange sort of manic charm, and his very unpredictability seemed to draw people in. However, that was a different matter. Why Al had gone back to harping about old news, James couldn’t imagine.
“Thing is,” Al said, scuffing the last of the autumn leaves with his shoe—the woods didn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it was March, “it didn’t have anything to do with Mary MacDonald.”
“Al, you’ve lost me.”
Al—so very like James to look at in some ways: dark-haired, regular features, similar body shape, albeit several inches shorter—looked seriously at his friend.
“It’s not Kieran you don’t like,” he said. “It’s Laurie having a boyfriend.”
“He’s had boyfriends before,” James said defensively.
“Ah. Hasn’t brought them home, though, has he? Different thing altogether.”
James shrugged petulantly. “I just think Kieran’s an idiot, that’s all.”
Al knew when to stop—usually. “Whatever you say, mate. Just…don’t piss Laurie off by being too rude to his guy, you know? Probably a bad plan.”
Which, as James admitted and worked by, was a sensible idea. But when Laurie turned up a fortnight later alone, James couldn’t help his heart lifting.
This is a contemporary college-age romance focusing on 19-year-old James, who’s in his final year of high school. James realized he was gay, and in love for the first time, at 16 when his mother’s best friend Laurie brings his new boyfriend over. James is jealous and realizes his hatred for Laurie’s boyfriend stems from James actually wanting Laurie for himself. Aww! Been there done that, James!
Okay, don’t freak out: James’ mom is near 40, but Laurie is a much younger 26. Whew! So, while right now these two aren’t quite age appropriate, one day soon a 10-year gap could be doable. James pines away for Laurie, but in the meantime, he’s got a life to lead. His loyal friend Al pretty much lives with James and his family under sad circumstances, his father has advanced MS, and his mom … is kind of cool, actually. The bulk of the book shows James as he progresses through his university years: making friends, finding (and breaking up with) romantic partners, moving in with friends at school, deciding what he wants to do after he graduates. He continues to think about his first love Laurie, hoping one day they can take their new budding friendship to a romantic level. Will James’ patience pay off, or will he find someone else while he’s waiting?
There are some nice relationships in the book. I love that the mom can have not only a guy bff but she has a likable husband that Laurie calls friend, too. Al is sweet and affable, though his parents essentially don’t care about him. Al, who is bi-sexual, wants no parts of a serious relationship and has multiple romantic partners. He seems genuinely happy with that, so no judgement here. James is just a regular guy who likes and gets along with his parents and his pseudo-brother Al.
The story doesn’t drag and is a quick read. I admit my surprise in a few places. A romantic/sexual relationships James enters into and then how that relationship is completed. We also didn’t really get to know Laurie very well at all and I was surprised that James still thought about him after so much time has passed. It didn’t disappoint me exactly, I just wasn’t sure which way the story would end until it was, well, near the end. The story has a few somewhat graphic sex scenes with a happy, if not abrupt, ending.
3 pieces of eye candy
P.A. Friday fails dismally to write one sort of thing and, when not writing erotica and erotic romance of all sexualities, may be found writing articles on the Regency period, pagan poetry, or science fiction. She loves wine and red peppers, and loathes coffee and mushrooms.
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