Ashby Sebastian Sterling-Haynes has had a lot of boyfriends, but he's never found the one.
The only person he can form an attachment to is his fourteen year old niece, and even that is in jeopardy when babysitting her cat goes all kinds of wrong.
Veterinarian, Connor Lawson is much happier working with animals than with people. He has deliberately returned home and to the Summer House he recalled from childhood holidays for peace and quiet and the chance to heal from wounds no one would ever see.
When his next door neighbor comes into the practice with a cat that has been in a fight he hides in his office because this Ashby guy is all kinds of dangerous. Too hot, too rich, too titled, and way too sexy for his own good.
Can two men who refuse to believe in love ever learn that love is the easy part of the journey to forever?
Buoyed by the support, Connor focused in immediately on the bleeding cat in someone’s arms. He and Rachel took the poor animal straight into the examination room, aware that the person who’d carried it in followed.
“What happened?” Connor asked. He was examining the cat, which looked to be covered in a lot of blood, and noted several deep gashes at the back of the neck and lesser cuts to his belly.
“I didn’t see,” the owner said. “A cat fight, I think.”
Connor immediately looked up and was faced with the very man he needed to apologise to. Seemed Ash was as shocked to see him as he was Ash.
“Did you see the other cat?” The knowledge this was a fight made sense of the fact there was no visible broken bones, but a lot of cat claw cuts and bites.
“Big,” Ash said helplessly. “Ginger.” He waved his hands to indicate a large cat.
“Muffin,” Rachel said with a shake of her head.
“Bloody menace,” Connor said. He wasn’t lying, the cutely named Muffin was a neighbourhood terror, a cat with nothing better to do with its time than pick fights. Old Mrs Flaherty, who had been owned by Muffin for going on ten years now, was about the only person or animal Muffin seemed happy to be with.
Ignoring the fact that Ash looked like he was going to cry or shout or both, Connor rounded on him. “You need to leave. Let us do our job.”
“It’s my niece’s cat. His name is Tux. He’s… I’m in charge… Please don’t let him die.” Ash backed out of the room.
“Wow, your bedside manner sucked,” Rachel murmured. Connor ignored her. The cat would need to be sedated, and then Connor could have a proper look at what was going on.
Once Tux was out, he concentrated on clipping the hair all around the wounds, cleaning them, and stitching the really bad ones. There were two deep scratch-bites across the cat’s shoulders, but they weren’t quite deep enough to necessitate a drain. Seemed like Tux and Muffin were evenly matched.
Finally Connor placed Tux in a recovery cage and stepped back to check all looked okay. There wasn’t anything else to do now except the bit that Connor was dreading: talking to the owner, in this case, because the owner was Ash.
He washed his hands, then stripped off his white coat, which had way too much of Tux’s blood on it, and replaced it with a clean one. Then he washed his hands again and realised he was delaying the inevitable.
“Try and be nice,” Rachel warned as Connor left the surgery and moved into the consultancy room. He ignored her and instead waited until Evan the receptionist showed a shell-shocked Ash into the room. He looked oddly vulnerable, his dark hair messy and his white T-shirt bloody and loose out of his board shorts.
“Okay, surgery went well,” Connor said immediately. “Follow-up will be antibiotics, pain medication, and probably a cone to keep the cat from messing with the wounds.”
Ash merely nodded. He looked to still be in a state of shock, and at one point he opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again.
Connor began to feel sorry for him, his normal compassion for animals and their owners pushing through the awkwardness he was feeling and the animosity he couldn’t help creating inside to balance the embarrassment.
“Tux will be fine.”
Ash visibly relaxed. “Really? He was the only thing I was supposed to do right and I fucked it up.”
“Started up a cat-fighting ring, did you?”
Ash blinked. “What?”
“Unless you’re in the game of setting up cat-fighting events, this wasn’t your fault. Cats fight, particularly over territory.”
“They do that?”
“No I mean, is there such a thing as cat-fighting events?” Ash looked horrified. “Like the dog ones?”
“No, of course not, or well… anything happens, I guess, but not here.” Suddenly Connor felt like an idiot. He’d been trying for dry humour and ended up starting a conversation about something he hadn’t wanted to. Because conversation meant talking to Ash, and while at some point in the future, he did want to do that, he didn’t want to do it now. Here.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
Readers who enjoy watching opposites attract will be drawn to the complex relationship between veterinarian Connor and rich boy Ash in this sweet and sensual read. Over the course of one summer these two men will find themselves at crossroads that will not only push them together but pull them apart as they discover who they really are and what they really want. The quietness of village life is the backdrop to this relationship that is antagonistic at first but slowly becomes more profound as they deal with their pasts, prejudices, and expectations and readers will find themselves quickly caught up in the drama.
As a youngster Connor's sweetest memories were of summers spent at a cottage in Upper Fordham and it's where he came to heal after a very painful relationship left him bruised and battered inside and out. This painful past also left him fearful, doubtful of his feelings, and prejudice against those with money. His existence now revolves around his vet work and the very small group he allows into his heart...the sweet Rachel and the wise old man who owns the cottage that has always represented happiness, safety, and love. At first this all seemed fulfilling enough but meeting rich boy Ash has his heart racing and his hormones awakening. His fear and anger weigh heavily on him though and it takes a lot for Ash to finally break through his emotional walls but the journey is one that shows Ash in an unexpected way and has Connor growing stronger within himself and healing from the past. I enjoyed seeing Connor come out of his shell as he's a truly kindhearted person who deserved some goodness after being betrayed. His emotions were believable and had me aching for him early on but smiling as he and Ash grew closer.
Ashby comes from a well-established and wealthy family and with that comes many expectations that are slowly smothering him. He's always been the fun-loving brother flitting from one short-lived relationship to the next but meeting Connor has him wanting something more. At first he just enjoys the challenge but as they spend more time together he discovers a more meaningful bond forming between them. Getting rid of Connor's preconceived notions has Ash discovering things about himself he didn't want to admit before, but wanting Connor has him embracing the more mundane things in life that are more fulfilling to him. Throughout his own journey of self-discovery he and Connor grow closer in a relationship that starts out sweet and slow but quickly combusts in sexy and playful encounters. From start to finish I found Ash an enjoyable, larger-than-life character who was utterly charming. He wasn't afraid to go after Connor and that carried over into his embracing of a new stage in his life that was far more rewarding for him.
Though this story was very slow at the start it allowed the romance to progress in a believable way as Connor and Ash morphed from enemies to friends to lovers. The narrative sometimes got caught up in the history of the town too which left me clamoring for them to finally get together. When they finally gave in though it was a richly rewarding moment that was sweet, steamy, and playful. With two strong lead characters there was an equally memorable cast of secondary characters that were charming and supportive. The depictions of the quaintness of the town and its denizens created a safe and idyllic environment from which these characters could find themselves without judgement. The brotherly interactions between Ash, Ben, and Landon were also heartwarming and showed a different side to Ash that gave us our first glimpse of the substance behind his style. Ultimately Connor and Ash had a lot of intense personal baggage to work through and I found myself captivated by their journey and recommend this to fans of the m/m genre and all lovers of romance.
My rating for this is a B+
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.
As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.
With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.
Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.
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