Taking You Home is the sequel to the wonderful Boys of Summer. You can easily read this novel without the first one but you get more context if you read both so it’s recommended but definitely not required. The sequel is written in much the same vein as the original story where the conflict isn’t internal but external. The conflict isn’t within the relationship – nor was it last time – but now that Hunter is over his issues being labeled as gay, the two have to get Max’s family over the issues as well. To that end the story is very, very sweet and very, very romantic. Almost too much so in that the language is over the top. Everything is soul affecting, so wonderful it makes you cry, and there is so much love every moment is magical. That’s not a bad thing and reader reaction is going to vary based on how sweet they want their story.
The focus of the sequel is split along two lines. The first is that Max’s family, particularly his sister and father, aren’t comfortable with Max’s homosexuality. Thus with Max and Hunter getting married everyone tries to bridge the gap and give a happy ending. The second focus is reaffirming the incredible, lasting, soul deep love and passion between Max and Hunter. The story wants to hammer home how intensely, magically, and amazingly in love the two men are. The tension with the family helps to alleviate the exaggerated romance but there’s no question of a happy, contented ending and the conversion happens pretty quickly.
The writing is very good and the first person, present tense narration is surprisingly engaging. Usually this is a tricky style to pull off but Hunter’s voice and the easy language combine to create an interesting story right from the beginning. So much so I couldn’t imagine the story written any other way. Hunter blends past events into his musings with current events so the telling feels smooth and seamless. This does tend to leave the story telling considerably more than showing but that’s not likely to bother many readers. The writing is clean of any distractions and imbued with a warmth and charm that will endear readers.
The romance between the two men is lovely and filled with intense passion and love. There’s no question these two are soul mates and so in love with each other they don’t even notice anyone else. Each successive scene shows just how perfect they are together as they work towards converting Max’s family into a supportive unit and accepting every single thing about each other. There is nothing that isn’t perfect between these two and Hunter constantly tells the reader so. So for the right reader, they’ll adore all this over the top, exaggerated romance of soul mates and lovers destined to be together forever. I personally quite like the story but eventually it simply becomes too much.
Part of this is that there is no sense of scale. Every single event from a random glance at each other to the moment they take their vows is a way for the story to reiterate how in love they are with each other. The arguably most romantic moment – their wedding – is actually no more intense and passionate than driving in the car together as Hunter glances at a fidgeting Max. The same sense of awe, love, wonder, commitment, total and complete head over heals love is told in both scenes. This takes away the emotional impact of what should be the biggest highs since everything is so wonderful and magical.
I think this particular book is going to come down to reader preference. If you like incredibly sweet – almost saccharine sweet – romances, then this will please you enormously. If you need a little bite to your love story then know that going in but it’s still a lovely story.