Friends since childhood, Brad and Zack have weathered good, bad, success, and failure. Their closeness has remained despite distance and professions. So when Brad needs help Zack is quick to provide. Zack's regulars offer a solution to Brad's employment and health care situation but neither of the men take it seriously. The idea lingers, though, because it's also a fantasy for Zack so he takes it from a joking possibility to a reality. Brad doesn't hesitate to accept. What they find in all of this craziness is something lasting, something forever.
I enjoyed the story and thought it was fun and humorous with a large, bumbling, endearingly sweet Brad as the balance to Zack's creativity, energy, and quirkiness. They make a great pair and watching them go from friends to married friends to a romance was delightful.
I'm all for a big man who is more teddy bear than alpha dog and Brad fits that bill. I do find that he's a bit too simple, though. There's not a lot of complexity to him and he comes off as a bit slow, not just in realizing his desire for his friend, but mentally. Like he's a big kid and not necessarily in the sweet, fun way. Despite that, his tenderness grows on you and his earnestness is engaging. I genuinely like him.
Zack is quirky to say the least. He's a bit of a scatter-brain emotionally and Brad's calm, stable presence is the perfect complement. His zeal to win the competition makes him a bit manic and gets them into a situation that's a bit awkward and pretty funny. I mean, a gourd? Definitely brought out the smiles until they had a run-in with the lake.
Speaking of the competition, Luigi read as fake from the start so I was a bit surprised that when things were revealed it was done in the way it was. Not that it was bad, it was just a little much when combined with Luigi's outburst. I felt that competition scene was a bit over the top, like it was trying to compensate for the slow progress of the romantic relationship through most of the book. If it were toned down and made more realistic rather than outrageous I would have enjoyed it more. It threw off the slow, sweet story and drew the focus away instead of enhancing it.
Also, in regards to the purpose of their marriage, there were other ways Brad could have shown their world they were indeed a real and valid couple, but there are also a ton of reasons that could have just been eliminated. The fear of being caught was more a small nagging worry in the beginning and by this point Brad and Zack were already completely clear about their feelings and intentions. The marriage had nothing to do with the competition and Luigi was just trying to kick up the dust around his already incredibly embarrassing performance. The situation could still have been dramatic without this kind of a scene.
Overall, however, this was a sweet book with a romance that was more sedate than exciting. There's a bit of confusion about past relationships and experience and the sensual scenes were more wordy and flowery than I expected them to be, but things worked out alright between them. Their story was tender and warm all throughout.
*99¢ on Amazon!