“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.” ― Nick Hornby
Author: Jaime Reese
Pages/Word Count: 211 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
Review: When the story begins, we are introduced to Julian Capeletti, an out of work licensed contractor. He has been out of work for a couple months, and an ad for a handyman is the only option left to him if he wants to actually pay his rent this month.
Matt Doner is an ex-con who is using his inheritance to build a halfway house for other ex-cons to assist them with their transitions when they have nowhere to go. The house he purchased for this project needs a lot of work, and Julian seems to be the answer to his prayers, and not just for the remodeling job. For months Matt and Julian dance around their mutual attraction. When they finally give in, the results are mind blowing.
As easy as it was for them to fall into bed together, making their relationship work outside the bedroom will take a lot of work. They both have at least a metric ton of baggage between them, and the results of carrying this baggage influences just about every choice they make. Between Matt’s overly controlling mother and Julian’s childhood with an abusive father, they are going to have to work hard to achieve something close to normal.
When Julian and Matt start to get closer to that HEA they both want, Matt decides he has to face his demons. The biggest step for him is realizing that he doesn’t have to do it alone. He soon recognizes that having a partner makes even the scariest situations easier to survive.
Both of these men have to tackle their pasts if they have any chance at a future together.
Jaime Reese has created a wonderful foundation for what promises to be a very emotional series. I can’t wait to meet all of the tenants of Matt and Julian’s halfway house. The characters we have met so far are wonderfully written, and I think you will find yourself rooting for them the same way I did. I can’t recommend this book enough. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.