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A Work in The Guy Series
Aaron Weiss knows how to escape. Years ago, he ran from a romantic disappointment and impulsively joined the Army. Now, he’s forced to take a medical discharge and readjusting to life at home proves a challenge.
Jesse Ross knows how to hide. He realizes he’s an oddball, and that he’s an outsider within his own family. He also knows his secret love since childhood, Aaron, only wants his good-looking, favored older brother. Yet Jesse could never completely abandon his intense feelings for Aaron. Over the years, Jesse was a faithful pen pal to him. Still, he’s shocked to his core to find Aaron on his doorstep.
As long-buried secrets and past hurts take center stage, the two are overwhelmingly drawn to each other. But it’s their future that may force them to risk everything.
The second book in Skylar M. Cates’s “The Guy” series takes readers out of Glamour, Arizona, to a secluded wild farm outside of New York City – where Aaron Weiss (Dean’s best friend from book one) is visiting Jesse Ross, his best friend’s younger brother, to persuade him to attend Jesse’s parents’ anniversary. It is the “falling in love with your best friend’s sibling” trope that I happen to enjoy.
Aaron takes relationships lightly – he is not interested in a long-term relationship. It stems from his not-so-good experience with love: his parents were divorced and his first experience of liking someone ends up in rejection. Meanwhile, Jesse is used to being a cast away from his family, to be a disappointment. Jesse has an anxiety problem and spent the last few years perfecting the art of a reclusive.
I loved book 1 of this series so much that I decided to immediately read this one – and I loved it just as much! Cates has the ability to weave a romance story between two men with different characteristics and combine it with a few subtle layers of other different plots, all resulting in a well-rounded storyline.
Just like in the first book, I loved the dynamic of these two different men. Aaron liked to joke around, to tease people, but with Jesse, he learned that he didn’t have to hide his fear with trying to be funny. He could just admit that he’s scared and he knew that it would be okay, that Jesse would not judge him for it. While Jesse learned that he could fight his fear of being in a crowd when he was with Aaron. That Aaron can calm him and that Aaron is proud of him (and his arts). Jesse can be just who he is, odd duck and all, and not having to worry about rejection.
I think Cates’s secondary characters are just as interesting to read. Take example Aaron’s new stepmother. Much younger than Aaron’s father, it is easy to judge her as another no brainer type of female we often find in books. But Valerie shows that she has smarts, like when she actually suggests a job to Aaron. Another example is Jesse’s parents … it’s also easy to hate them for what they’ve done to Jesse and don’t get me wrong, I really don’t like them … but Cates gave us the back-story that made things more complicated than what it was on the surface. Again, I’m not justifying what they have done, I think Jesse is better without them, but it is an example that there are complexities in Cates’s characters. Something I truly appreciate in a romance. Characters can easily win me over if the storyline is just mediocre. Luckily, this one has depth in both characters and storyline.
There was one moment where I feared that Cates would bring the much-dreaded martyrdom plot – you know, where the guy will push away his love interest because he thinks it is “for the best” – when Aaron suffered a set-back on his health. Luckily Jesse was able to cool his head down and challenged Aaron for it. That made me just love Jesse even more!! It also reminded me of a similar plot in the first book, where Anthony pushed Dean to talk about what was bothering him when Dean pulled the “I don’t think this is going to work” attitude due to his jealousy. I guess I have to trust Cates for not taking the cliché path after all.
With this second book in the series, I am very much convinced that “The Guy” series is one that I will pay attention to. Luckily, book 3 is coming in December. It will be about Anthony’s friend Henry and the new sheriff, which means that we will be back in Glamour. Judging by the ‘seeds’ that have been planted in this book – it seems like it will be another promising one. I’m looking forward to it.