My rating: 3.5of 5 stars
Aaron has no idea what he’s walking into when he shows up to pose for a famous—and famously bad-tempered—photographer. He certainly doesn’t expect to end up working as Jake’s assistant for five frustrating, thrilling, and crazy years instead of in front of the camera.
It all works until Jake realizes Aaron has become the focus of his life, a life that’s threatened when Aaron actually leaves him to start a relationship with someone else. Though it breaks his heart, Jake realizes he has to set his beloved muse free to have any chance of winning Aaron back.
Reprint: This short story was originally published in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Size Still Matters.
So what did I think?
I was expecting more of a light-hearted story, instead I got a story with humour but also emotion and sadness.
This was one of those books that drove me crazy, wondering why the characters couldn’t/wouldn’t just say what they felt – It’s not that hard to say “I love you” and their situation seemed so obvious!
Both characters are in their early twenties. Jake is a bit of an accentric, a photographer who had had success early. Aaron is an aspiring sculpture, with an almost manic sense of humour, who moves to New York and takes a job as Jake’s assistant.
They immediately hit it off, bouncing smart comments between one another. Over the next few years their lives become fully intertwined but they don’t acknowledge it is love although it is plain to others such as friend Alyson. They call at all hours and sneak into each other homes in the middle of the night and put each other before boyfriends…. not usual behaviour for people even if they are best friends.
The early part of the book covered the first five years of Jake and Aaron’s version of being ‘just friends’ but really illustrated how much they meant to each other. It was interesting to view their interactions but at times the ‘craziness’ was a bit much as it was exhausting keeping up with the banter!
I did feel a real sense of sorrow when Aaron and Jake split up but still struggled to fully understand why both men were loathe to put their feelings on the table. It is a lovely sentiment that “I want him to be happy more that I want him with me.” but why did Jake think he couldn’t make Aaron happy, particularly with Alyson telling him how much Aaron loves him? “He’d let him leave, let him out of the box, to go where he would. Jake owed him that much. For how long he had trapped him, he owed him his freedom.” Trapped him?
I liked the ending – it brought the men together, it was passionate, it was like it was meant to be. But as much as I wanted to see Aaron and Jake together, the story just drops poor Matt like he never existed. Matt is the man who loves Aaron but makes him see that his place is with Jake and even takes him to their final reunion. I would have liked reassurance that he was also happy.