Genre: Adult Romance
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook
Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: sexual harassment (challenged), homophobia (challenged), anxiety, car accident, vomiting
Some of my recent reads flattened me emotionally, so I sought some lighter fare. Thankfully, my hold from the library lifted, and I got to read a romance novel. This one is about Hudson and Kian, who are exes. As the title suggests, Kian thinks he’s healed from the heartbreak, but then Hudson invites him as his plus one to a wedding at his family’s estate. Wedding hijinks, pop culture references, and second chances ensue.
A steamy romance between two gay men of color as they overcome their own insecurities to find support in each other, regardless their past.
Jackson is so effective at characterization. I found myself reacting to Kian as if he were a real person. Kian is heartbroken and incredibly (medically diagnosed) anxious. There are moments of frustration that sometimes I found myself agreeing with the badass side characters calling him out and in on his own bullshit. His tough love relationship with Divya especially does a great job in grounding him.
The story also never shies away from the elephant in the room that is the difference in upbringing between Kian and Hudson. Kian grew up middle class and has a painfully true Gen Z outlook towards the future (crap credit score, loads of debt, no job prospects). Hudson, on the other hand, comes from wealth. His family owns the largest liquor distribution company in the world. I found myself particularly invested in Hudson’s relationship with his family, the feeling that he never does anything right for them. Having Olivia there as the other side of the coin added more context. A lot of the insights come from deflective humor and Jackson sticks the landing.
There’s one thing that the story could have benefited from and that’s having more context for the breakup that kicked Kian down into his depression well. There’s echoes of it in reference, especially with regard to how Hudson relates to his family, but having that spelled out more clearly would have added even more tension to their already fragile union.
Overall, I really enjoyed the chemistry between our leads and the incredible set of side characters (Olivia is always right and she knows it).