This book was EVERYTHING. It was also quite frankly TORTURE. If you put social norms a side for a second (or a few hours at least ;)) it's one of the purest romances I've ever read. Fin and Ethan's love story was tender and heartfelt. It started when they were young, so very young, and though they tried their best to simply be what society - and mostly their parents - wanted them to be, at a certain point it hurt too much. Like with the previous ones this is another re-telling of Jane's Austen novels, this one being "Mansfield Park" (which I haven't read or seen before). Also, we only get one POV - Finely - and while Ethan's emotions were so very obvious I have a feeling being in HIS head would have been an even greater torture. Fin was always more true to who he is and what he wants, for Ethan it was different with what his father tried tough-loving him to be.
Finely Price's life crashed down (the second time) when at 15 his mother announces she is going to marry Tom Bertram. As he is still struggling with losing his father, moving into Tom's mansion - Mansfield - is too much too soon. Tom tries to include Finley, be friendly and accommodating but he won't have it. He wanted to hate Tom's son - Ethan - as well, but it simply wasn't possible. As Ethan puts it "You can always try to". They become fast friends. There is something so easy in communicating with each other. Ethan struggles a lot with his emotions, with what he wants or being expected to be (which isn't what his father has in mind) so simply BEING with Fin who says and expresses his feelings openly was liberating .
There IS something else under the surface, surely from Fin's side, and yet their connection and friendship has always stayed platonic. Loving, caring, yet still keeping a certain distance. Their first kiss is shared 2 years later, on Ethan's graduation party, right before he leaves for a year of traveling in Europe. This sweet and tender kiss should have lasted them the two years apart with a hope (not even a promise) things could be different later on.
But when they are finally home and maybe even ready to share what they have been feeling towards one another for years now, another family declaration makes theirs impossible. It doesn't help that now they are both adults, Tom expects them (mostly Ethan) to start taking care of themselves and build a financial future. Tom's eyes are RIGHT THERE and he doesn't like what he sees going on between them. specially when he witnesses something he shouldn't have - TWICE. Staying apart is difficult yet also spending time just the two of them - like they did in those first two years - with them being surrounded by friends. Fin's friends from high school - Maria and Rush - the couple who should have broken up YEARS ago and the twins Cress and Ford from London - who have their own motives to staying in they guys' orbit. We Also get a bit of Bennet Keene (Finley's first boyfriend as well as the MC from the previous one). All of them together made things ever MORE complicated and added more layers to the story. It was also nice seeing a slightly younger Bennet than the one we met in the previous installment.
When I say THE STRUGGLE WAS REAL I mean Ethan and Fin but I also mean ME! It was heart breaking reading of their feeling towards each other and how much they fought themselves and each other to have the little they allowed themselves. I was suffocating with tears half the book. Yes in society's eyes (and more so in Tom's eyes) they are considered brothers even if they never actually WERE ones to each other. There was something so innocent about the way they connected, what they shared, trying to keep them apart was a punishment they shouldn't have had to endure.
There were so many conversations that broke my heart. Between the two of them naturally, but also the more revealing ones with their friends as well as the more final ones with their parents. One short conversation between Fin and Tom literally BROKE me. I simply don't have any more words. This was one of the most tender, sweet and heart breaking story I've read in a LONG time. Maybe ever. I don't really know at the moment. I'm so happy I found a whole day to immerse myself in it, simply being in my "happy place" (granted, tearing up and choking on tears.. so maybe not the best word there..) what more could I possibly ask for?
Only for the next installment to come soon! (It's less than a month.. I'm be counting the days!).
ANOTHER MUST READ!
16 September 2021
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Love, Austen is a Contemporary Romance series by Anyta Sunday. Each book delivers an updated (and gay) version of the 6 novels written by Jane Austen. I don't think I've actually read any of the original novels (though I've seen a few in film) but it doesn't really matter, Anyta can write about penguins on the moon and I'll read it hehe. This series is simply SUPERB. I love each of the characters, their personal arc and as a couple. Each is so simple yet complex. ALL are simply a MUST READ.
[ If you've felt the ending of the second novel a bit rushed, trust Anyta, she will make it better, continue on to the next one - and that's ALL I'm going to say here :) ]
HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
1. Emerett Has Never Been in Love - "Emma" [Emerett “Lake” Lakewood & Knightly "Knight" Dixon] (Published 15 March 2021) ★★★★★
2. Cameron Wants to Be a Hero - "Northanger Abbey" [Cameron Morland & Henry Tilney] (Published 17 May 2021) ★★★★★
3. Bennet, Pride Before the Fall - "Pride and Prejudice" [Bennet Keene & Darcy Tilney] (Published 30 June 2021) ★★★★★
4. Finley Embraces Heart and Home - "Mansfield Park" [Finely Price & Ethan Bertram] (Published 21 September 2021) ★★★★★
5. Elliot, Song Of The Soulmate - "Persuasion" [Elliot Anneston & Wentworth McAllister] (Published 11 October 2021) ★★★★★
6. A Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility - "Sense and Sensibility"  (To Be Published 2021)