After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective—but fabulously shiny—outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project—as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.
Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.
Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content—not presentation—that matters.
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Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Adopted Child, The Bargain, Best Friend’s Sibling, Class Differences, Enemies to Lovers, Families/Raising Kids, Geek and Jock, Hurt / Comfort, Interracial Relationship, Office / Workplace Romance, Opposites Attract, Smartass Twinks
Word Count: 74000
Setting: Portland, Oregon
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Becky Condit on USA Today Happy Ever After wrote:
Gideon and Alex overcome family and job stresses as well as their own biases and insecurities to find their way to a happy-ever-after.
Alex Henning, who's African-American, has had a crush on his sister’s white roommate, Gideon, for years, but to Alex, the brilliant computer geek is "way out of his league." When they meet again under less-than-perfect circumstances, Gideon doesn’t even recognize him, then proves himself to be a supercilious jerk. Probably a good thing, since Alex doesn’t have time for a social life anyway. With his father suffering from dementia, he’s had to work practically every minute he’s not helping his mother care for his dad. Usually Gideon is a web designer, so when he winds up working as a hands-on contractor for a computer system build-out on a construction project, he’s a little out of his element. Alex, an electrician, turns out to be working on the same project, and Gideon is impressed and chastened when the man he was incredibly rude to goes out of his way to help him. The two are attracted to each other, but before they can move forward, Gideon has to confront his judgmental attitudes. In addition to being African-American, Alex is blue-collar and also a big bear of a man, something Gideon is afraid of because of a painful experience with a former lover. Step by step, Alex shows patience and understanding as Gideon overcomes prejudices he never knew he had, but just as he’s realizing that Alex may be his unexpected but perfect life partner, pressure from Alex’s family situation may draw them apart. Russell explores expectations and preconceived notions from a variety of angles in this sexy and satisfying M/M romance, and the full cast of characters offers Gideon a variety of racial and class biases and stereotypes to overcome—a welcome addition to the narrative but not always subtle.
A poignant, thought-provoking love story on many levels.
Why you should read it: Clickbait is a fun read with stressful moments. The characters are well developed and easy to relate to, even if you are not in the business of construction or information technology. I particularly enjoyed the interjections of geek-speak definitions.
Alex is an electrician but has many construction skills. Right now money is his main concern. He lives with his parents in order to help care for his father, who has Alzheimer’s and has begun forgetting people and places. He also tends to wander off in the night, which is particularly worrisome for Alex. Alex’s mother, a retired nurse, seems to be a little too laid-back considering the circumstances, so the main anxiety and resolutions fall on Alex. Business has fallen off, bills have to be paid and Alex is the one who is responsible. Unfair, but this is the situation he faces 24/7.
Gideon is a Web designer who finds himself working for unpleasant people who have no idea what they actually need as they redesign their offices and implement a new IT installation. Instead of working on their Web pages, Gideon has to first set up their servers in a space that is not yet built nor is it designed correctly.
It is during this set-up-to-fail construction circumstance that Gideon meets Alex. Talk about opposites. Gideon prefers to be neat, clean, fashionable and actually working in the area of his expertise. Alex doesn’t care about his clothes because he’s usually working in a dusty or wet-paint environment. Both men are gay, but initially they are pretty judgmental of each other. As they learn to depend on one another to get this job done right, friendship develops, followed by love.
There are a number of secondary characters who are very important to either Gideon or Alex or both. They would lead me to call this book character-driven except for that trap-sprung construction that has to get done under untenable requirements, which leads to a more plot-driven style of writing. Either way, this is a wonderful book, full of successes, failures and the need to work (and love) together.
This book resonated with me for a personal reason. I once was in charge of setting up a multimillion-dollar data center, so the geek in me enjoyed and understood Gideon’s concerns and problems. It also spoke to me as a sweet m/m romance. The main characters are good men who carry heavy burdens of responsibility, aren’t looking for love, but have to respond when love finds them.
Becky Condit is a widow, mother of three and grandmother of 10 who reads all kinds of books, but her go-to comfort books are romances. She reads and reviews more than 250 books a year, so you won’t often find her without her iPad in hand, but when you do, she’ll probably be gardening or spending time with her family.