Missed Connections: I Swear to You by Sloan Parker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really liked this little novella and tore through it right up until the end. It ended so poorly that it affected how I viewed the story as a whole. Other than that blip, the writing is good with solid characters and some seriously hot sex scenes. I also say that as a reader who has become somewhat inured to sex scenes since they are so ubiquitous within the genre. The premise has enough innate tension to hold my interest without the addition of the crazy ex-boyfriend, which was by far the weakest aspect of the novella. Prior to that ending I was thinking this was a story I kind of loved and would rate at least 4 stars. With the sad ending that had me rolling my eyes and saying “really?!” out loud the rating dropped unfortunately. I’d still recommend this though as I think it’s a really good and engaging story, just know the ending sucks but it’s quick so try to get by it.
Grady and Mateo were inseparable childhood best friends that grew up together, went to high school and college together and even played college hockey together. Somewhere along the way the two guys sexually experiment together. An incident that meant the world to Mateo scared Grady so much that he ran from his best friend and severed the relationship. Now six years and two failed marriages later, Grady is finally ready to be with Mateo and be open about his sexuality. The only bump in Grady’s new plan is that Mateo doesn’t want to be found, by Grady or anyone else. Putting a post on Facebook and craigslist gets him closer to Mateo but only with some fast-talking and judicious use of handcuffs will Mateo start to listen to Grady’s apology.
In many ways the story reads like a classic m/f romance, just with two guys. That isn’t a criticism by the way, merely a fact. The prologue sets up what happened between the two best friends six years ago, kind of, and it was smoking hot. I really didn’t want it to end and furthermore it left me confused about why Grady left since it offers nothing of the bad ending. I still never really felt as though the answers offered fully explained what happened since Grady seemed fine with the sex as it was happening and the next scene is six years later and Grady is again fine with sex with Mateo. We’re told that Grady got scared and ran away but since it all took place off page I never really felt satisfied with the explanation. However, that’s a minor point. I liked the two men and their nuanced characterization. They felt fully realized as characters and their chemistry leapt off the page. The innate tension between the two due to broken trust really was enough to carry the story.
Here is where I have a problem. If the story had just focused on Grady and Mateo overcoming their past and reconnecting I think the story would have been stronger and more interesting. Watching the two men together, trying to pick through the minefield of emotions and needs even after they had sex was engaging. It really drew me in and made me connect to the characters and care about them. I didn’t assume all problems were gone just because they had sex. Given the experiences Mateo has had in the intervening years, of course it would take time and consideration for the two men to really feel safe and together again. Therefore I think the addition of the still alive ex-boyfriend was just silly. The entire plotline was over the top and way too easily resolved in a manner that had me rolling my eyes. I don’t want to give away any additional spoilers but let me just say – no way would Grady have accomplished what he did. So realism and believability are out the window on this ending but what annoyed me the most was how unnecessary and detrimental the entire subplot was to the story. It was a great little novella with very engaging characters and clean narrative that feels ruined by throwing in some late breaking tension that is resolved in almost the blink of an eye.
That said, it is a really small portion of the story so I’m trying not to remember only that. The writing is very good with a good amount of description without overwhelming. I like the cadence of the author’s prose. It feels easy to read and quick to turn pages while enjoying the pace and engaging story. This is definitely my favorite book of the author’s and based on how much I enjoyed this I’m very eager to read more of her new work. I would recommend this novella just know the ending sucks but try (like me) not to let that bother you too much.