Thursday, December 17, 2020

Roan Parrish - Where We Left Off

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.
For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.
But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

Comment: Having liked the previous book in this series and existing only one left, I've decided to give myself some closure and read this story as well.

Leo is a young man, just now entering university and he chose New York because he knows it's where Will, a man he met because of an older friend, lives currently. He thinks it will be a good idea to be in that city and to be with Will now and then, especially because he is quite aware he is in love with Will. What he didn't count on were all the challenges such a big city puts in his path plus the fact Will seems to only see him as a kid, a friend. Or does he? Could it be that player Will can actually like innocent Leo and want to be with him? There is a lot for Leo to learn, in particular about himself ...

In this final third book, we finally have the story of Leo and Will, two characters introduced in the first book, who hooked up briefly but apparently left quite an impression on readers. To be honest, I barely remembered them after so long, and even less because of book #2, since they were not the focus. I only remembered that Leo and Will were not an item at all, just tow guys who met through mutual friends and kissed. Now Leo can't seem to understand maybe their connection didn't go both ways...

In fact, this is likely the biggest issue most readers probably had with this story. Leo is a 18 year old when the story begins and we follow him through an year in his university life. Will is closer to 30, he's 27 if I remember correctly, and besides being a man who can't seem to settle, he is at a different stage in his life. Are they friends, do they get along well, romance aside? Yes, the things they have in common align well and the different tastes are respected enough for their friendship to work. The problem is when they go into romance territory.

I belong to the team that says "no". Again, they are in different places in their lives and they just don't mesh. Most of the story is about Leo finding himself while dealing with Will's aloofness, friends-only attitude but still carrying a torch for him. Had the author made the age difference less obvious (or non existent) I think the story would have gained a lot in terms of reward. I'll explain: there's no way there could be a believable HEA between these two, they just don't mesh in terms of maturity. Leo isn't a young but mature young men nor is Will an older but understanding guy. Both have flaws that make a romance between them doomed from the start.

However, the author tries to convince us of that and I don't think it worked because there's a lot more scenes with why it doesn't than why it does. I'll say I kind of wished the romance could have been with other people, perhaps while Leo and Will kept their platonic friendship and still gaining something from it (Will could give advice and Leo could give faith of youth), some sort of perspective. I very much preferred Leo's interactions with other characters instead of with Will.

As one can imagine, Leo's journey isn't without rejection and devastating truths. I felt sorry for him but I also thought how he didn't have to be in that position. I could also understand Will's side, his difficulty in not wanting to push Leo aside completely so he sent mixed signals...this was also annoying, if he was so much more clever and aware of his personality, why didn't he explain things to Leo in a better way? Obviously the author wanted to let things be in the air, for a possible HFN. I, honestly, didn't like this choice.

Like I said, my favorite part was following Leo's learning experiences through college and the friends (his own age!) he met, how he started to understand himself better... but the romance, or its potential, no. Another idea could have been to place these two later in life, still an age gap but with an older Leo... I think there were other ways to give the reader an emotional story with a better romance.

Grade: 5/10

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