This is the first book in the Opposites Attract Series:
- Red+Blue (book #1)
- Leather+Lace (book #2)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fresh from backwoods Minnesota, actuarial student Ben Dutoit is ecstatic to land a job with Sydney Sutherland Family Insurance, one of the few companies that offers life insurance to people in the high-risk category. The fact that he gets to work in Gay Central, aka San Francisco, is just the icing on the rainbow-colored cake. Ben sets himself just three goals: be out and proud enough to participate in the Pride parade; seek out the company of like-minded souls in the clubs; and maybe, if he’s lucky, fall in love. But the men Ben meets are everything he’s not: suave, confident, sophisticated, and sexy. Unlike redneck Ben, they’re blue bloods from blue states, born with status, wealth, and the responsibility that comes with the package. Ben’s still wondering if red and blue can mix when he discovers what risk really means. The global economy tanks. The job he looked forward to is in jeopardy, and every dream Ben ever had is threatened, especially love, the biggest dream of all.
So what did I think?
This is the kind of story that delivers exactly what I like in an m/m romance – complex main characters, lots of emotional soul searching, a journey fraught with obstacles, some hot sex and a happy ending.
The story is first told from Ben’s point of view, introducing a young man out to make his mark on the world. Moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, he is out, living a good life, with a good job. Ben respects his boss Adrian and they slowly develop a friendship which eventually leads to Ben having feelings for his ‘straight’ boss. “There was a connection between them. It wasn’t merely a boss-employee relationship thing. There was more than that. Deep down, Ben knew there was more, wanted there to be more.”
The next section of the story is told from Adrian’s point of view. Adrian is very much in the closet. He has strong ideals and has been forced to lead a life, not of his own choosing. He denies his feelings for Ben for many complicated reasons. Adrian is so different from Ben, afraid to risk so many things.
The men finally confront their feelings when they spend a week together canoeing in the wilderness. But this very special time is also the catalyst for heartache to follow.
I really enjoyed the section of the book as the men travel through the lakes. There were some beautiful descriptions of the landscape, the weather and the journey. There were some wonderful descriptions blending the sexual experience with the location, very poetic… “Colors swirled and danced. The blue of Ben’s eyes merged with the indigo lake and clear azure sky in the background.”
There were also some wonderful analogies in the story, exploring the themes of risk and choices. As Ben and Adrian, head through the lakes to their drop off point, they need to reassess the direction they are taking and risk another path. Adrian needs to rely on Ben’s experience and knowledge and trust they will reach their destination. “If only he had Ben’s confidence to know which was the right path to take as far as his life went.”
The ending worked well for me with separation and heartache, followed by life-changing decisions and the ultimate reconciliation.
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end!
For more information on A.B. Gayle and her books visit her website.