Although this is the fourth book in the series, it could be read as a standalone. I have not read all four of these in order and didn’t feel like I missed anything important as each book focuses on a specific couple. Witt flees to Sawyer’s Ferry after horrible violence. His friend Logan and his partner Jackson take him in while he’s recuperating. Mason is the brewmaster at Copper Creek; he met Witt once and there was just something about Witt that stuck with him. When Logan and Jackson need to leave for both a family visit and their preplanned vacation, Mason offers to watch over Witt while he’s still in his cast and dealing with the fallout from his situation. Mason’s sister April is a cop, so when Witt’s past trouble follows him to this small Alaskan town, he just may have the help he needs to rebuild his life.
I would call this a great beach read. This is a sweet, summer romance with dark bits that turns into more. Witt is introverted and has had a series of heartbreaks in his life. If you are a fan of the hurt/comfort trope, this is in dual first person POV so the reader can see Witt is not being taken advantage of. Mason helps Witt learn self defense–a main point of this story is Witt taking his power back and trying to make decisions about what’s best for himself rather than to make others happy. With this being the first major relationship for either of them, they have more than enough to deal with in a matter of weeks. Yet, the difficulties they face draw them together rather than tearing them apart, giving them a solid foundation to move forward with. I appreciate that some might find this instalove or think the plot a bit unrealistic. It is particularly low angst for the subject matter. The epilogue takes place in the future and gives the reader the opportunity to see the HEA due these two. If you want likeable characters, coming out for you, and first time stories, you could try this one.
Ethan just graduated college and is working as a barista. Jase is a firefighter for the Seattle fire department. Ethan’s girlfriend Allison calls Jase to say they broke up so Jase races over to check on Ethan and ends up taking him out of town to his uncle’s cabin where they spent a lot of time as kids. Jace is in a really bad spot here, trying to be friends to both parties during the breakup and this could have been explored more to give this a bit more depth. The story is told in alternating POV so we get both views of what is happening.
The care that Jase shows Ethan, the thoughts he has and the actions he takes, really clue us in that this is beyond most friendships. It is also clear he has no idea; to him it is natural to be this way with Ethan. Jase never thinks about why he hugs and cuddles Ethan so much. This is mostly about reminiscing about their relationship. When Ethan tells Jace he is gay, Jace is utterly shocked. He feels angry and betrayed without being able to articulate why. Once Jase sees Ethan differently, he starts to notice things he didn’t before, like subjects they avoided. And now he’s picturing things he shouldn’t be. Ethan’s coming out has him questioning everything he knows about his best friend.
The author has framed this as a coming out bisexual story. When they come together, it seems natural, like an extension of their relationship. Ethan is terrified it will change their friendship or that Jase will freak out. But, a vacation in the woods in a place that holds sentimental value for them is different from day to day life, with jobs, friends, and family. As soon as they leave the cabin, they both falter in completely different ways. Jase falters about being honest with his friends and starts treating Ethan like we imagine he’s treated his girlfriends. Ethan has always been with Allison and has no frame of reference to deal with dating or navigating a relationship with anyone else. The author provides a sounding board for Ethan in the form of a friend named Tyler. Poor Jase seems left to work it out for himself.
Jase coming out to his colleagues was a little worrying without knowing whether they would have his back. He could have actually been putting his life in danger and that wasn’t addressed. Also, I have to say that I read an uncorrected advanced reader copy, so maybe this issue will be resolved before publication, but I was confused about time periods/ages as they conflict in a few places.
The epilogue takes place a year later so we can catch up with all the characters for all the feels to get our HEA. I would recommend this for a short, low angst, easy read.