Asher Schenck and his husband John opened their downtown gastro pub in the midst of Detroit’s revival. Now, five years after John’s sudden death, Asher is determined to pull off a revival of his own. In a last ditch attempt to bring Idlewild back to life, he fires everyone and hires a new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. Tyler is a cheery balm on Asher’s soul, and their relationship quickly shifts from business to friendship. When they fall for each other, it is not the differences of race or class that challenge their love, but the ghosts and expectations of their respective pasts. Will they remain stuck, or move toward a life neither of them has allowed himself to dream about?
I absolutely adored Asher and Tyler. They had such a wonderful journey to be together. Watching them start as coworker and then move to friends, and eventually lovers and partners had me not wanting to put the book down. They were each damaged in their own way and they needed time to trust each other and let down their walls and insecurities. It was a super slow burn but the story wouldn’t have worked any other way. Tyler and Asher needed that slow build to get to where they could be together.
Tyler was hard to pin down at first. Though he’s written that way on purpose and is part of how he needed to grow. You could see all the facets and angles he had but you could never truly tell which were him and which were the persona he had at the time. It was interesting having Tyler in a different relationship at first. I was worried there would be cheating when I first started. However, I realized quickly that’s not Tyler at all. He’s very faithful and would never disrespect himself or the person he’s with in that way. Tyler lives his life with his heart on his sleeve and wants to take care of everyone around him. Though he struggles with taking care of his needs at times too. I loved how he cared for Malik at first and then Asher as their relationship grew. By the end I couldn’t love Tyler more and how he expressed his wants and needs more was learning when to give what the other wanted and when to be himself.
Asher was someone that revealed the depth of his grief, sorrow and pain slowly. He seemed far more put together at first and unraveled as the story progressed. I actually really liked it since it showed how a person can seem fine on the surface but the more you did the less fine they truly are. His awkwardness with Tyler before they became a couple was endearing. He walked that fine line between friends and more very skillfully. It was kind of funny to see Asher analyzing every word he says and move he makes to be sure it isn’t too overt or too flirty. Once Tyler is single all bets are off and the overtones become far more obvious and it’s deeply sexy to see the tension increase dramatically all at once.
I actually wound up liking the first half with Tyler dating Malik. It showed a side of Tyler we wouldn’t have gotten to know and it was a vital part of Tyler’s growth. Though there’s clearly tension between Tyler and Asher during that part, it’s not the main focus at first. It increases the closer to the halfway mark the story gets, but they’re clearly friends and this point and wouldn’t be together yet even if Tyler were single. I really would like to see Malik get his own story. I want to see more of his background that’s hinted at in this story. I want to see him stay friends with Tyler and be a part of that family, but also find a family of his own with someone (or more than one person if that’s his ultimate happiness!) and be solid and happy.
Once Asher and Tyler are together you can see how good they’re going to be. The way they complement each other and give what the other needs to be whole again was amazing to watch. Their happy ending is so sweet. I adore them together and love how in love they are. Though I would like to know what the future holds for them and if they expand their family. However if we never get that then you can be safe knowing they’re happy together and will stay together.
Four and a half
I love that Asher had a chance to stop by today. He gets to talk a bit about what’s next. For him, for Tyler, for them together. I love some of his hopes for the future. Hopefully you do as well. Read and enjoy!
Living with Tyler is eye opening; the more comfortable he is with me, the more his truly happy energy fills the room. I never thought it would be possible for such a charismatic person to become even more charismatic.
What’s more, he works hard – but he’s really gentle and understanding about it – to help bring out my happiness. I know more now how unhappy I let myself be for so long. I just didn’t realize how many people I let down because I withdrew. Tyler would hate to hear me say that. I guess that’s why he wants me to call my in-laws….well I guess my former in-laws, for the holidays. I’ve missed them; I realize this more now. I only hope that they can forgive me because I stopped talking to them.
Thanksgiving is around the corner but Tyler is already thinking about Christmas. He’s been trying to figure out how I feel about doing something for Hanukah too. He says the holidays are as much about tradition as they are about religion, and that I should try to reach out to my family.
It’s crazy, but already when he talks about family, all I can think is that he is my family.
I’m such a serial monogamist. I loved being married to John (my late husband) so much. I loved being with him period, and although we got crap from some of our friends about buying into heteronormative traditions, there was something about the promising, the honoring of commitments in particular ways, the living of them every day, even through bad times… I loved that.
I don’t want to scare Tyler away, because he’s so young, but I think about it. In the future, for us. I can see it happening. If I got to have anything I wanted in the next five years, Idlewild would still be thriving. Tyler and I would be married. Maybe even talking about kids. John and I used to dream about having kids and what it would be like. It’s nice to let myself dream about those things again.
And to be honest, while I love not living in the loft at Idlewild any more, I can see us moving out of our current apartment. Finding a house and fixing it up. Tyler keeps telling me he’s better with tools than people give him credit for; I wouldn’t mind seeing that in action. It’s a pretty sexy image now…tool belts…maybe he’d work in a tank top…
Okay, I should stop now. No one needs to hear what comes after that.
Today when Asher greets him, he seems more present. Tyler knew this place was in dire straits, but if he needed confirmation, the harried expression on Asher’s face when they first met was it.
Although his clothes hint that he’s tried to put himself together, his hair is a mess. It’s longish, with a hint of curls and is the kind of tousled only some men can pull off. Though deep brown, Tyler can see some gray at the temples. Asher has dark eyes and sports the shadow of a beard. Despite the pallor of his skin that indicates he hasn’t gotten sun in a long time and his slightly sloppy appearance, Tyler can’t help but notice how handsome he is. He’s taller than Tyler by a few inches—most men are. He has no idea how old Asher is—it would hardly be polite to ask—but he thinks maybe in his thirties. That’s hardly old, but it’s older than he; that’s never been an attraction. But, it’s working right now. Tyler swallows and smiles.
“So,” Asher starts. He sits at the same table. It’s just as covered in paperwork. “What are your thoughts about working here?”
“Are…” Tyler eyes him. “Are you hiring me?”
“I am strongly considering it.” Asher doesn’t smile but his eyes are friendly.
“It would be great to work here,” Tyler says. “Really. This building has a vibe.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Something here feels right.” He wonders if he’s making a fool of himself. Tyler sometimes can sense the energy of a person or place. It’s nothing he seeks—but some people and places he’s encountered just feel right.
Empty, Idlewild brims with potential. It’s a building with great bones, long but narrow, with high groin-vaulted ceilings and a bar that curves down the length of the front-of-house floor. Cream-colored wainscoting lines the bottom of the walls—he sees it running up the stairs to the second floor—and the walls are a rich deep red that’s brightened and warmed by an eclectic assortment of antique lighting fixtures. Wide wooden steps with carved spindles lead to the second floor seating area. The dark wood and walls are offset by light through the large glass window.
“Well, I hope so.” Asher looks around, then shrugs. “Or that I can make something of it.”
“Just you?” Tyler asks. “That sounds exhausting.”
Asher tilts his head with a tiny smile quirking his lips.
“Well, if you wanna take a chance on me, which I recommend, I want to help you with that.” Tyler smiles as warmly as he can and is gratified when Asher’s eyes catch his. They share a second of eye contact that leaves Tyler short of breath. He looks away quickly.
Jude Sierra first began writing poetry as a child in her home country of Brazil. Still a student of the form, she began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007, and in 2011 began writing in online communities, where her stories have thousands of readers. Her previous novels include Hush (2015) and What It Takes (2016), which received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.
a Rafflecopter giveaway