Author: Riley Hart
Pages: 230 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: An emotional, wonderfully written story that is a great addition to the series
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: A double shot of devastating news turns Justin Evanson’s life upside down. When he learns his father has cancer, and he has siblings he never knew existed, he leaves everything behind and moves to Virginia to support his dad as he tries to make amends with his family—a family Justin’s not sure he has a place in. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers his recent hookup is his newfound sister’s brother-in-law.
Drew Sinclair never expected to see Justin after their night at the club or to discover their family connection. If anyone found out, it would give Drew’s brother another reason to hate him. But there’s something about Justin that draws him in, and it’s not only because they burn up the sheets together.
One meeting leads to another, and before Justin realizes it, Drew has become the only thing in his world he feels is his. And for the first time in his life, Drew knows what it means to be needed. Being there for Justin and supporting him when things spiral out of control feels right. But with so much happening so quickly, it’s hard to trust their feelings. Is this thing between them real? Or just a test drive before life forces them down two separate roads?
Review: I recommend, before jumping into this book, to read the prior books—especially book two, Shifting Gears, to better understand the current situation for Justin.
Justin’s father has cancer, and upon finding out his father is dying, he also learns that his father has been lying for most of Justin’s life. Hiding siblings and an entire life Justin knew nothing about. His father wants to spend what little time he has left making amends to his other children, Sharen and Landon, and ex-wife, Joy. Justin, being a supportive son, puts aside his own feelings and drops everything in his life to support his father in this endeavor. But really, putting aside feelings like that doesn’t happen, he just keeps them inside and is haunted by them. Can you even imagine the inner turmoil that Justin has to go through, and the gambit of emotions the situation would bring out in him?
Landon, Sharen and Joy have each other and their significant others to lean on while they work through the chaos of emotions. But Justin is essentially alone and breaking himself, keeping all he feels inside as to not make things harder in his father’s last days. No one really stops to think about Justin, who has literally no one there other than his father, who he can’t talk to about any of it.
No one, until Drew.
Drew is solid and confident and at the same time, laid back. He is the outcast of his family, the son who didn’t follow in the family’s footsteps, the one who follows his dreams and is okay with the way things are—other than his relationship with his brother. Drew and Justin begin hanging out, talking and learning about each other, though no one else knows, and Justin sort of likes it that way. Drew is the one thing in Virginia that is Justin’s. First his friend, then more. I absolutely adored Drew. While Drew is coming to terms with his own situation, allowing himself to experience his attraction for males for the first time, and trying to fix what is broken with his brother, he’s steady when it comes to Justin. He was cognizant that Justin was being torn apart, with everything else going on, so instead of demanding time and attention, he waited to give comfort when Justin came to him. He made sure to find ways to help Justin escape the torment of his feelings, if only for a little while. Their “trips” were a perfect reprieve for not only Justin but the reader.
A good portion of the story revolves around the horrific disease of cancer, and the reader accompanying Justin as he struggles in an unthinkable situation, takes care of his father through chemo treatments, watches the man who was his hero deteriorate before his eyes, and struggles with the anger at the same man for the lies and deceit. We watch as Justin envies his siblings their relationship that his father denied him, when he wonders what would have happened if he had met them before. He has so many emotions, some of which he doesn’t think he has a right to feel about his dad and his siblings, adding to his torment and making him feel guiltier—an awful cycle he can’t seem to escape.
The writing is on point in this book. The way the author captured the physical deterioration, the decisions, the denial, the emotions involved with the terrible disease is without a doubt some of the best I have ever seen. You can’t help but feel for Justin as we see his internal dialogue and the whys of his feelings. It broke my heart. But you also see how well Drew and Justin are matched, where their strengths and weaknesses complement one another.
This book simply was amazing. I have always enjoyed Riley Hart’s books, as her characters are always dimensional and I become invested with the outcome. With this one? She took it to a whole new level with the capturing of such an emotional ordeal.
If you are a fan of the series you won’t be disappointed, but you may need some tissues.
You can buy Test Drive here: