I positively adore this book. The author has a wonderfully smooth and evocative writing style that kept me entranced from beginning to end. When you can "hear" the character's voice speaking in your head, you know the author has honed her craft masterfully.
The story is told from the POV of Daniel, a young college professor from Philly embarking on his first teaching position with a small college in middle-of-nowhere Holiday, Michigan. Daniel has tall and thick Fort-Knox walls erected around himself; a defensive mechanism learned from being raised in a single-parent family; all men, absorbed in manly endeavors. Not easy for a young gay man from the wrong side of the tracks. Early on he learned that in order to survive one has to be scrappy with a take-no-shit attitude. Sadly that doesn't bode well in romantic relationships; that is until he runs into the immovable force that is Rex Vale.
Rex Vale is a loner with damage and problems of his own. He's a man who spent his single-parent youth with no roots, moving from town to town as his mom chased dreams of Hollywood stardom. A mother who loved her child, but was so absorbed in her own dreams that she failed to realize that her son is dyslexic and never stayed in one place long enough for the school to even discover it. When she dies, Rex is left alone with only memories and old movies to keep him company and an overwhelming sense that he is not smart enough, especially for a college professor. His love for his mother and mostly stoic endurance of her failed choices makes him extremely caring and tolerant of others, but also leaves him not expecting much from the people he cares for. Always loving, patient, and kind, but always waiting for and expecting them to leave.
So essentially we have two young men who want love, although they refuse to admit that, but are also terrified by the prospect as it always ends in hurt, and both find it hard to believe that anyone would want them in that way.
As if these two wonderful main characters weren't enough to carry the story, the secondary characters are just as fabulous and add such richness to this story. Ginger, Daniel's best friend is the perfect BFF for Daniel. She and Rex have an almost instant mind-meld when they meet, both sharing an uncanny ability to zero their x-ray vision right through Daniel's walls. There's no hope for the poor guy. It takes a little longer for Will, Rex's BF, to grow on you, but he does. And holy jeeze, Leo is the most adorable fictional character I have met in a very long time.
A fantastic book experience from cover to cover... sit back and let this story tell itself to you.