Rafael Patino has a great life in Rain Valley. He’s a teacher at the high school, has a great group of friends, and enjoys the occasional baseball game. Other than the sporadic call from his drunken mother, he’s pretty content.
He’s also been in love with his best friend Dustin for nearly a decade. Years of keeping those feelings under control are put to the test when they begin a summer project together.
Dustin Vance builds furniture for a living, has just earned his pilot’s license, and has an amazing best friend. When he buys a 1976 Cessna Skyhawk, he asks Rafael to help restore it, then travel with him to Wisconsin for the largest aviation convention in the world.
As they spend their days working on the plane, they begin to spend their nights together. Will they find love in the clouds, or will they stall out before they even take off?
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Friends to Lovers
Word Count: 54094
Setting: Rain Valley, MO
Languages Available: English
A cool breeze blew past him as he walked into the night. Rafael texted Dustin before he pulled out of the parking lot, letting him know he was leaving and asking about Mac’s phone number. But since Dustin was probably sound asleep, he’d likely have to get that number after sunup.
As he turned onto his street, he saw a vehicle in his drive—Dustin’s Honda. His best friend had a key, so was probably inside.
He eventually found Dustin sprawled on his sofa, sound asleep, his arm crooked over his head. Rafael felt drawn to him like a magnet, but being too damned tired to fight his urges, he let himself look. Dustin’s T-shirt had ridden up, showing a stripe of pale skin, and Rafael imagined it soft and silky. His fingers itched to slip under the hem. He stared a little too long, though, and by the time he dragged up his gaze toREAD MORE
Dustin’s face, he found his friend staring back at him, smirking.
“You want to take a picture of…something?” he drawled teasingly.
Heat flooded Rafael’s cheeks and he forced a chuckle. “Whatever.”
Dustin rose and hugged him hard, as if just remembering what had happened. “God, I’m so sorry, Raf. Is the girl going to be okay?”
Rafael nodded, but wrapped Dustin in his arms, his head falling on the man’s shoulder. They stayed like that for a while. With anyone else, Rafael might have been embarrassed that he was fighting the urge to cry. Dustin held him tight and shared his strength. It crept into Rafael, shored him up. Helped him get past the image of Daisy huddled in that hospital bed. At least for a while.
When he finally pulled away, Dustin kept his arms around him and Rafael was too exhausted to read anything into it.
“Why are you here?”
“Because I know you, Raf. I know you care about your students—you open your heart to everyone. But I also know you’ve been particularly worried about this girl. I just didn’t want you coming home to an empty house.”
Rafael’s heart cracked more and he felt raw, open, and vulnerable. The world had reared its ugly head and shown its hideousness. He also felt lonely. Bone tired and so lonely. And he didn’t want to be lonely. At least not for the night. He swallowed hard. “Will you…stay?”
Dustin nodded, no hint of hesitation in his blue-green eyes. “Is there anything else I can do?”COLLAPSE
Amy on Amy's MM Romance Reviews wrote:
Rafael and Dustin met in college and have been best friends ever since, now, ten years later, those feelings of friendship have grown into so much more for Raf. He’s fallen in love with his best friend, but Dusty will never return his feelings, permanently relegating Raf to the friend-zone, or will he?
I love a good friends to lovers and this one was well done. The progression from friends to lovers was smooth. They questioned the move from one to the other just enough to make it believable without going so overboard that you want to knock their heads together.
Raf and Dusty had amazing chemistry and were smoking hot together. The sex was off the charts hot and truthfully, not many authors can pull off dirty talk without it coming across as cheesy. There’s tons of dirty talk in this story and it’s anything but cheesy. *fans self*
I loved watching Raf and Dusty work to restore Dusty’s plane, and I’ll admit to googling the plane to see what it looked like. Haha
This was a great story, well-written and with lovable characters, who fit together perfectly and that you could really root for. If I had one complaint, it’d be that I found the middle a bit slow. I think the story needed a bit more angst or action to move it along, but other than that, I loved it and can highly recommend it!
Mikku-chan on Mikku-chan: A World Full of Words wrote:
Love In The Clouds, by Sarah Hadley Brook is a feel good, friends to lovers romance.
Rafael and Dustin, best friends, are so close that most people assume they are a couple. As a friend tells Raphael, "You guys talk - what? - five times a day? You spend nearly every evening together. You two might not realize it, but trust me, everyone else is pretty sure you're dating."
After hearing this, Raphael starts to notice Dustin in a new light. But, can friends become lovers? Can they even take that risk? Raphael has no idea how to deal with his new feelings.
Meanwhile, Dustin is excited to take Raphael on a trip in his new plane. Raphael is the only one he would even consider taking with him. And suddenly, he is noticing his friend's body and is feeling something more than friendship.
We get to follow this couple along, as they traverse the complicated world of falling for your best friend, being scared to tell them, and then allowing yourself to love them wholly.
Rafael and Dustin are perfect together, best friends who care for each other whole-heartedly. Adding a physical relationship to their friendship only makes their bond stronger.
One of Rafael's students, Daisy, lends a lot to this story, as she is being abused and Rafael is the one who comes to her help. I found this part of the story to be so well written, with heart and thoughtfulness.
Love In The Clouds also contains family issues, and some great friends. I hope we get to read about some of the other men soon. But for now, I suggest this Sarah Hadley Brooks to anyone who loves a friends to lovers romances.
Love in the Clouds was an adorable best friends to lovers story and I liked how the tension was build, how we saw through both guy’s eyes how their feelings changed – and how actually both felt the same right from the start.
What I didn’t knew – and which was a nice surprise – was the depth of the story with the subplot of Rafael’s student, a shy girl named Daisy. I was impressed how well this fit to the overall setting and it was something which wasn’t mentioned.
In fact I thought about the way how the events in the blurb were displayed and through the subplot we saw different sides by Rafael but also Dustin.
I snickered several times when the guys were totally oblivious about their feelings and how their other friends make remarks like: “Aren’t you two married yet?” or “You guys are attached from the hip. When is the wedding?” XD It’s adorable how deep they are in denial the first time. No way is the best friend allowed to be seen as hot or attractive, but their feelings can’t lie.
Due to their connection the two are very close to each other but they talk about insecurities too and that’s one thing I also liked about the book. They are aware of their feelings for each other at some point, acknowledge it in secret but the fear that the easiness is missing when they become a couple is a little obstacle, same as Dustin’s experience with a former boyfriend.
Both guys are well fleshed out and I liked how we see a character who’s caring about his students, one who can’t look away when he sees something terrible; also is he interesting with his hidden dominance; Dustin, his friend, has more layers than you maybe expect in first place and you can agree with Rafael that he’s adorable when he’s into his “I’m a pilot, I know how to fly that thing”-mode.
4 out of 5 stars for this.