Who would you become if you lost the only person who ever mattered?
For twenty-six year old Dylan Hopkins, the answer is easy. He’s become no one. Memories of the happier times are all he has left as he finds himself meandering numbly through his now dull life. Though he cares about his work and family dearly, he’s yet to let himself find love again. Afraid of letting go of what he once had, Dylan chooses to keep his heart buried, where it belongs, having died a long time ago.
Conner Michelson is about to change everything Dylan knows. He’s every bit the bad boy persona - tatted up, ex-MMA fighter, but after an injury leaves him unable to fight, he has to rethink his goals. Having just opened his own gym, Conner can cross his first major life accomplishment off his very short list. Next up: find a man he can settle down with and build a family. Seems simple enough - a dream most people have, but when he meets Dylan, his carefree, easy-going life is thrown into a tailspin.
Determined to keep Dylan in his life, Conner vows to resurrect Dylan's long ago buried heart and let love live once more.
*warning this review will contain spoilers*
I bought this book 2 and 1/2 years ago, but then someone told me what happens, so I've refused to read it. My co-bloggers have been trying for some time to get me to read it, and even knowing my heart would break, I finally caved. I wasn't wrong. As I finish and sit down to write this review, it's through tears and with a heavy heart.
••Part one Dylan and Shane's story:
Dylan and Shane have been best friends since they were young boys. When Shane accidentally finds out that Dylan is gay, he pulls away and practically cuts off all communication with Dylan for almost a year. In their final year of high school and getting ready for college, Shane can't deny the feelings he has for Dylan anymore. When Shane's plans to attend the same college as Dylan are lost, he is forced to stay behind while Dylan goes off to school. They continue to see one another, but Shane's life is filled with so much turmoil. He feels trapped and unable to get away from his alcoholic, abusive father. After a misunderstanding between the boys, and with Dylan refusing to answer Shane's phone calls or texts, an already depressed Shane is left alone and broken. Feeling hopeless, he takes his own life, leaving behind a distraught and guilt ridden Dylan.
••Part two Dylan and Conner's story:
It's been eight years since Shane's suicide, and Dylan has made a life for himself as a gay-straight alliance counselor. He has a satisfying and fulfilling career, a family that loves and supports him and has recently reconnected and become best-friends with Reid, Shane's younger brother, but he still isn't capable of opening himself up to or giving a romantic relationship a real chance. Then he meets the owner of a new gym in town, Conner. Something about Conner calls to Dylan and makes him want to open up and maybe give love another try.
Watching Dylan and Shane explore first love was so very bittersweet, because I knew it would end in tragedy, but I'm glad I was able to witness it. Dylan and Shane's portion of the story was so heartbreaking to read. I absolutely hated Shane's father, and I could have killed him with a good heart and not an ounce of guilt. If you look up evil in the dictionary you'll find his picture there. I loved these boys together. The connection between them was amazing and you could feel the love between them coming off the pages of this book.
While I enjoyed the second half of the story, and I'm happy for Dylan and Conner, I didn't feel that emotional connection between them that I did with Dylan and Shane. I know their stories are the same length, but Dylan and Conner's portion of the story felt rushed. It moved too fast and was a bit instalove. I'll be honest and say I think it's because I was just too heartbroken and I wasn't ready to move on, yet. At the end of the story I'm still so very heartbroken and crying.
The story was well-written and filled with so much emotion. As a person who has and does still suffer from depression, Shane's story touched something that I think will stay with me for a very long time. It left me somewhat broken inside, and even though the story didn't have the ending I would have liked, I'm glad I read it. Recommendable, but with plenty of tissues.
**Book purchased by reviewer**