[Close Proximity 1]
Zeb Evans doesn’t do messy.
The product of a disorganised and chaotic childhood, Zeb likes order and control, and as the boss of his own employment agency he can give that to himself. Life runs along strict lines and he never mixes business with pleasure. Everything in his life lives in neat, alphabetized boxes. Until Jesse.
Jesse Reed is Zeb’s complete opposite. He’s chaos personified. A whirling cyclone of disorder. He’s also charming and funny and a very unwanted distraction.
Which is why it comes as a complete surprise to Zeb to find himself asking Jesse to pose as his boyfriend for a few days in the country at a wedding.
Zeb doesn’t do impulsive, but as the time away progresses, he finds himself increasingly drawn to the merry and irreverent Jesse. But can he bring himself to break the hard-won lessons he’s learnt in life? And even if he can, how could Jesse be attracted to him anyway? He’s so much older than Jesse, not to mention being his boss.
From the bestselling author of the Mixed Messages and Finding Home series comes a warm and funny romance about one man’s fight for control and another man’s determination to circumvent it.
I can’t remember the last time a book made me so happy.
Jesse is a fascinating character, an interesting dichotomy of sass and strength. He has laugh-out-loud funny moments juxtaposed with somberness, and an insight into people that occasionally makes him seem older than his years. He cares about people in a way that occasionally means he forgets to care for himself, but he also knows what he wants and how to go after it.
Zeb is almost his complete opposite, clinging to his self-control for reasons that fit well with the rest of his character. When he lets his control slip the leash, however briefly, he has a well of snark and dry humor that humanizes him and makes him just as appealing a character as Jesse. He’s also flawed–just because he’s older, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wiser, as he makes most of the mistakes in their burgeoning relationship–which just adds another level of charm.
What am I doing? I’m not sure, but as a testament to my stupidity, I carry on doing it.
The tension between Jesse and Zeb is taut and intriguing, and I love that it’s acknowledged by them both without it being beaten over the reader’s head.
I drive an Audi which, according to the salesman, is known for its spacious interior. He obviously hadn’t travelled with Jesse before though, because sitting next to him it’s like the space has suddenly shrunk. Like we’re in a reverse Tardis where I’m preternaturally aware of the scent of green tea that seems to cling to his skin and that sun-warmed long body.
By the time it snapped, I was truly invested in their happiness and the roller coaster that followed.
I also enjoyed that they spent time together without falling into bed; the scenes where they got acquainted were sweet, and it was refreshing to see them get to know each other with their clothes on (as well as without).
The supporting cast wavered between fun, supportive, and absolutely aggravating–all within the purview of the story and very well done. Even minor characters had their moments.
Xavier is walking towards us with a sheet wrapped around him.
Max groans. “What the hell are you dressed in?” he mutters as Xavier saunters up to us as cool as an ice cream.
He looks down at his outfit and up at Max as though he’s a moron. “A toga.”
“I can see that,” Max murmurs. “I should have actually said why are you wearing that?”
“It’s period dress,” he says, frowning at Max.
“Thank you,” I say triumphantly. “I told you that invite was badly worded.”
The story itself isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, but it was done so well that it was easy to overlook and simply enjoy the ride. The appeal of the characters and their interplay made everything new again, to the point that it was hard to put down, even when my eyelids were drooping.
The writing was a delight, with clever touches throughout.
I fold my arms and look at Zeb. He’s wearing white jeans with a faded denim shirt and leather deck shoes, but I’m particularly loving the way he’s accessorised with a severe case of the fidgets.
If it wasn’t apparent, I particularly enjoyed this book. I have already added Gideon to my reading list… and will probably keep going from there.