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They met at ten, they kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen.
Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist–literally.
One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe.
I’ve always secretly admired friends who’ve been coupled since, like, birth. So it’s no surprise that an m/m story along those lines appeals to me like warm chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. YUM. YUM.
Caleb and Nico have been best buddies since they had swimming lessons together at age 10, and they discovered pretty early on that they only had eyes for each other. How sweet, and later sexy, is that? They got to work through and share so many experiences together. I mean, imagine how much better all those teenage growing pains could be when shared with your best friend, who (BONUS!) also happens to be a smoking hot guy…like you?!?
But yeah, growing up. There’s also jealousy, and friends and family to contend with. Add an abusive parent into the mix and things did get pretty rough for Caleb and Nico. The abuse Nico suffers is heartbreaking, but I loved how Caleb was always there for him.
I liked how the story was told, too: something really tragic happens at the beginning and then there are flashbacks to Caleb and Nico’s relationship over the years, then back to present day. Something that didn’t work for me, though, was how the kids talked to each other. These are teenagers we’re talking about, and there was an awful lot of tender embracing and face cupping. I’m 40, and as much as I’d like to have face cupping in my life, let’s face it: that shit doesn’t happen. (Sad, right?) Anyway, I think if the boys had been a little older, the tenderness might have felt more realistic.
One other thing that concerned me was Caleb’s jealousy when girls found Nico attractive. First of all, we’re talking about GIRLS, second, Caleb’s reaction was fairly violent at one point. Knowing that Nico comes from an abusive home, that bugged me a lot.
Overall, I really, really liked the romance, and the sexy time was totally sweet and packed some heat (I’d go with an NA category v. YA, with that in mind!). I recommend Safe if you’re looking for something short and non-angsty between some of your heavier reads.