Release Day Review ~ Open Road by M.j. O'Shea ~ (Reviews, Excerpt + Exclusive Giveaway)
Title: Open Road
Author: M.J. O'Shea
Release Date Jul 25, 2016
“I’M SO old.” Angus flopped down on his best friend’s leather couch and closed his eyes. “How did we get to be thirty?” He’d been trying to distract himself for months, but the day was coming. Less than a week and the big old three-oh was upon him. It felt like the end of the world. No, it was the end of the world. The end of him being young and hot and full of potential. It sucked.
Angus got a hard poke in the stomach. He opened his eyes to his oldest friend in the world making the dorkiest face he’d ever seen. Angus couldn’t help laughing. Hot as he was, Reece was seriously good at making himself look completely unkissable. And he also was really damn good at making Angus forget about his temperamental angsting.
“I’m only four months after you, man. If you’re old, what does that make me?” Reece asked.
Angus sighed. Reece would never get it. “Straight thirty and gay thirty are two very different things. Have I not taught you anything?”
“You’re gonna have to explain that to me.”
“You just don’t get it. Like, thirty for you is still young.”
“Thirty for you is young too.” Reece rolled his eyes. “You still look like a teenager, babe. I think you’re going to be fine.”
Reece was so delusional. He had years of being hot ahead of him. In Angus’s world, which was youth obsessed and ready to throw away aging twinks with the trash, twenty-five was getting old. Thirty was… time to be put out to pasture. Angus was starting to feel like a carton of out-of-date milk. Might as well. He was pale enough after the wet, sunless winter they’d had.
And then there was Reece—gold Scandinavian skin, wheat-gold hair and green-gold eyes, big, brawny, smile like a supermodel. Everything about him was… golden. Like he glowed somehow. Reece was annoyingly beautiful, and sometimes Angus hated him. Of course, he also loved him more than just about anyone in his life, so the hatred was fond.
Angus sat up. “I’m not fin—” He was distracted by his phone buzzing in his pocket. Brad. Angus pulled out the phone and waved at Reece to be quiet.
“Hi, baby. How’s Corvallis?” Angus’s longtime boyfriend was off packing up the apartment he’d used all semester when he taught a weekend photography class at Oregon State University—two long hours away from their home in Portland. It had been an endless couple of months with him gone every weekend and a few weekdays as well.
“It’s fine. What are you doing?”
“Oh, you know, just some laundry. Watching a movie. What time are you getting home tomorrow?”
Brad sighed into the phone. “I told you already that I was going to stay until Monday. Some of the staff are throwing me a little good-bye dinner.”
“Do you want me to drive down?” Angus felt a hole in his chest whenever Brad was gone, like he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He knew it was stupid—he was an independent, grownass man, nearly thirty and all that, but still. He didn’t like being alone.
“No. There’s no point for just a dinner. I’ll be home sometime on Monday.”
“Okay,” Angus said quietly.
“I’m surprised you’re not with Reece,” Brad said. The sneer was in his voice.
“Oh, yeah, um, he was busy.”
Reece made an irritated face at Angus. He wasn’t a fan of Brad. The feeling was more than mutual. Angus had been trying to get them to be friends for nearly ten years, with just about zero luck. It had become easier to not inform Brad of his friend dates with Reece. Too bad he couldn’t avoid talking to Reece about it.
“That’s just as well. I’m going to let you go, but I’ll see you Monday.”
“I’ll give you a call tomorrow, see how the dinner went,” Angus said.
“Oh, babe. You don’t have to. I’ll be busy, and it’ll be loud. We can hang on until Monday.”
Apparently Brad could. Angus bit his lip. “Okay,” he said.
“Talk to you later, babe. I’m going to go.”
“I lo—” Angus realized he was talking to nothing. Brad had hung up.
When he looked up, he was met with a stormy-faced Reece. “Are we going to discuss how you have to lie to Brad now and tell him you’re not hanging out with me?” Reece looked like he wanted to punch something.
“I know you two have had some… political problems.” Which was putting it lightly. They’d never actually punched each other, but on a few occasions it had been really close. Angus knew Reece’s face better than his own. “It’s just easier to play Switzerland.”
“Fuck Switzerland.” Reece flopped down on the couch next to Angus.
Angus loved Reece’s house. He’d helped pick every wall color, picture, and piece of furniture over the years. It was just as much home as his and Brad’s apartment. Usually. At the moment, he was feeling a little uncomfortable.
“You’ll understand someday. When you get into a serious relationship of your own.”
“Wow, that wasn’t condescending at all. So I haven’t been Mister Long-term Relationship. That doesn’t mean I’m a fifth grader who needs a talk on how life works for grown-ups.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“It sounded like it. You always get that way when you’ve been talking to Brad. You turn into him.”
“Are we going to bitch at each other all night? Because if we are, I’m gonna go home and do some work.” Sometimes Angus and Reece sniped at each other like the brothers they nearly were. Usually Angus had a great time arguing with his most adored friend in the whole wide world. That night, he really wasn’t in the mood for Reece’s shit.
Reece tossed a pillow and hit Angus in the face. “Don’t you dare go home. We had plans tonight, and those plans didn’t include you taking off with your panties in a bunch just because Bradley the Magnificent called and ruined your mood.”
Reece shrugged. “Maybe I’ll try someday,” he said with a wink.
Angus shrieked and attacked Reece with armpit pokes and a few judicious knees to the balls before he gave up and rolled off Reece… and right onto the floor.
“Ow. Shit.” Reece dissolved into giggles at Angus’s misfortune.
“You laugh like a four-year-old,” Angus said sourly.
“You smell like one.” Reece wrinkled his nose.
Angus gasped and slapped a hand onto his chest. “I smell like a rare and perfect flower.”
“Flower of my ass.”
“You actually are four.”
Reece gave Angus a huge, toothy grin. “Are we getting Thai, sushi, or soup and salad?”
“I want cheese enchiladas. With extra cheese. And sour cream,” Angus said. He announced it like it was a foregone conclusion. He knew his best friend. It most likely was.
“Mexican it is.” Reece raised his eyebrows. “Cheating while the paleo police are away?”
“Something like that.”
Since Brad had been gone most of the week to finalize the semester, Angus had had days on end of no CrossFit, zero green smoothies, and only a single twenty-minute run. It had been kind of amazing. Of course his jeans were fitting a bit tight. After his birthday, he was going to have to put a lid on it and hit the gym again. It would be easy, since Brad was going to be in town a lot more. Fewer Sunday brunches with Reece and Cherry.
Reece shrugged. “I could go for a fish burrito and some flan.”
“And extra chips and guac. And queso dip.”
Twenty minutes later, they were back ensconced on Reece’s couch with their food and a movie. It wasn’t a club—Angus hadn’t felt like doing anything like that in ages—or one of Brad’s fancy cocktail lounges where Angus always felt a tiny bit out of place, but it was fun. The kind of dorky stay-at-home fun he and Reece had been having since they were six years old and just moved in next door to each other.
When Brad breaks up with Angus after 10 years together and announces his engagement to a 22 year old he's obviously been seeing behind Angus' back for some time, Angus goes off the deep end. He spends the next three months in bed crying and drinking to forget the pain. He ignores his responsibilities like work and paying the rent. He also dodges calls and texts from his family and friends, until his best friend, Reece, finally comes to rescue him.
Reece has been friends with Angus since they were in the single digits. Growing up together they have been joined at the hip almost all their lives, well, until Brad came along. Reece can see Brad for what he really is and hates the way he treats Angus, but he holds his tongue and doesn't speak his opinion most of the time to keep the peace between Angus and him.
Reece and Angus embark on a journey of self discovery. Leaving their home of Portland, Oregon, they make their way along the West Coast headed south. They stop in multiple cities and along the way and discover the person they were truly meant to be with has been right in front of them almost their entire lives.
I absolutely adored this book!!! I had my suspicions from the very first page. No straight guy I know would call another guy babe and be as touchy feely with them, as Reece was with Angus, no matter how good a friend they are. The way Reece felt about Angus was so blatantly obvious, but I loved the gradual progression the author used to take Angus and Reece from friends to lovers. It wasn't rushed and felt natural. I was impatient, but I think it happened at just the right time.
It's fitting that I loved this book, because this book is about love. Love that you could feel between Reece and Angus from almost their first scene together. As they traveled that love grows. The love Reece and Angus felt for one another came off the pages at you. They had an amazing chemistry and connection. When they finally do come together, it's magical.
I loved that I got to take this journey with Reece and Angus. Seeing all these cities through their eyes, especially my own hometown of New Orleans, was a really awesome experience. It was so detailed I felt I truly took this trip with them.
The is a well-written story packed with emotion, heartbreak, sweetness, adventure, laughter, healing, friendship, family, but most of all, love! It left me feeling the warm and fuzzies, and the only thing that could have made this book better was for there to be more of it. I didn't want it to end. Highly recommended!!
I am a huge fan of MJ O'Shea and was more than a little excited to start Open Road. I personally loved the story although I will admit I found it quite different than most of her other books. This is the ultimate story of love and friendship. How two people can be so perfect for one another in every way, yet have no idea, while anyone who sees them together immediately tells them they are the perfect couple?
Angus is a mess, I would love to say he's not, but he truly is. Yet no matter what is thrown at him, his best friend Reece is by his side, supportive and reassuring. Reece will fight for Angus even when Angus gives up on himself and he'll do anything in his power to help him. When Angus is dumped on his thirtieth birthday by Brad, his boyfriend of 10 years, Reece is there holding him as he breaks down. When Angus is unable to function and loses his job and apartment, Reece steps in to help. Getting Angus out of Portland and on the road for a road trip, the two men are able to bond once more. The farther they travel, the more they see and the closer they get, until they realize what's been there right in front of their eyes the whole time.
This was a true love story as opposed to your typical romance. So much of the book is about Angus learning to be himself again after living his life for so long as the man Brad wanted. There is a lot of healing that takes place while they are on their road trip and throughout the entire journey, we are able to see how much Reece truly cares about Angus. His actions and behavior are very obvious to those around them. And while in a sense this is slow burn (there is nothing sexual until the last 20% of the book) essentially the love has been there the whole time waiting to be named. It was a matter of acknowledging it and acting on the physical side of it.
Reece and Angus fit so well together that their relationship goes from friendship to lovers and partners seamlessly. I loved Reece, he was so sweet and perfect for Angus. He was also very comfortable with himself and that was what made him truly stand out to me. I found myself frustrated by Angus a few times throughout the story but I still liked him a lot.
I would definitely recommend Open Road.