I have no words. This book was angst galore, but the best kind. I couldn't put this book down. I only did when I absolutely HAD to. The pits of despair were open wide, but I was hoping and wishing Luis and Paolo will come out of it in one piece arms around each other. They did. It was one HELL of a ride, but it was SO worth it.
Luis Pope had very little choice in his life. His father died when he was very young and his mother couldn't have cared less about her children. Dante, his big brother, found his way in life through selling drugs and such in a gang and Luis found himself doing his brother's bidding with nothing to really look forward in life. Until the day he got arrested and realized that THIS is his way out of the life he despises. 6 years has passed and now that he is out he has no idea what to do. So much has changed and besides, who would want an ex-gang member? Wanting to warm his bones a little with a hot cup of tea he stumbles into Toni's Cafe with the job notice on the front - this HAS to mean something, right?
Paolo Cilberto's life has also been predetermined for him. Raised by his loving grandparents, now both in assisted care homes, he is running their cafe. Considering what his last few workers have said about him, it seems he's not an easy boss. Well, what can he say, he has a bit of a temper.. When Luis asks for a cup of tea and a job he offers the tea but doesn't feel desperate enough for the job. Yep, he recognized him, even if it had been years. But seeing him a few more times helps change his mind. Especially when the days aren't getting shorter or easier without any help.
Luis fits right in. He works efficiently and silently asking for very little in return. He is just content to do his honest work and easily steps up to do more when he sees Paolo needs it. He isn't alarmed by Paolo's temper, maybe because he can't hear him half of the time due to an injury in the left side of his head. It doesn't take long for Paolo to feel like it has always been this way - the both of them working side by side. But there is something more under the surface - attraction - and after a night with a bit too much to drink the share a kiss.
It doesn't take long for the already shared existence they share to become even more entwined with days starting and finishing together. Yet even though they both get to know each other and see each other as no one ever has, Luis is still dealing with things he can't share with Paolo. Or maybe he just doesn't want to, not wanting to destroy his new found happiness in Paolo's arms. Paolo sees much more than Luis gives him credit for, but he also mostly allows Luis his space. Trusting and hoping what they have together would be enough and Luis would settle down and relax. Feel safe. But how can Luis feel safe when everywhere he goes he is haunted by his selfish and manipulative brother?
It was agony. Heartbreaking and crashing and yet so tender and beautiful. While it wasn't always easy for Paolo the things he saw in Luis made him put the effort and patience I'm not sure he even knew he had. I had so much respect for him, I'm also envious in a way. I think we all wish and hope for our own Paolo.
“Why do you see me so well? I don’t get it. No one else does.” “Maybe no one else is looking.” “That’s too fucking true to contemplate right now.”
That's Paolo for you. There's no wonder Luis says more than once “I’ll go anywhere with you.” Truth been told? So would I.
This book kept me at the edge of my seat. I wanted everything to work out but I couldn't see it happening or rather I didn't know HOW Garrett is going to make it work. The noose seemed to be closing around Luis's neck and I was losing my our breath seeing both men struggle to keep each other and the life they have started to built together.
I honestly think this is one of my absolute favorite books by Garrett and since I've read ALL of her books and absolutely LOVED most of them that's saying something. If you're a fan of angsty books this is simply a MUST READ, though even if you aren't I truly recommend this book, it's not your "typical" romantic read, there is much darkness in the cruel cold streets around them yet there is still warmth and tenderness that balances the whole thing BEAUTIFULLY.
The 2nd book in the series "Deliverance" tells the story of Benito Martell and Mickey Larwood. It was very different especially in the interaction between the two MCs. Sadly it just wasn't for me.