Fool For Love (Lost in New York #1), Felice Stevens
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Second Chances, Humour, Some Drama, Series, *Potential Triggers – Death, Grief.
Length: 291 Pages
Can there be a second chance for a first love?
When Presley Dawson falls in love with a married man, he knows it’s wrong but can’t help himself. For the first time he’s wanted and desired and not so lonely. When his lover returns to his husband, Presley doesn’t worry. He always comes back—until he doesn’t. Years later, Presley is stuck in neutral and lonelier than ever. He can’t forget his past and doesn’t know how to reach for his future. When his best friend suggests a support group to work through his grief, Presley agrees but without much hope; nothing has helped before. At the first meeting, he’s instantly attracted to Nate and struggles not to fall so far, so fast. He won’t be fooled again. Nate Sherman is only attending a support group to get his family off his back. True, he hasn’t slept through the night in over three years, but he has reasons. Discovering your father—the man you love and idolize—is a liar and a cheater will do that. And dying in his girlfriend’s bed? No wonder Nate has trust issues. Meeting Presley changes everything. Nate sees Presley’s sweet nature and good heart and when he sets boundaries for their relationship, Nate surprises himself by willingly going along. With Presley by his side, Nate is able to sleep again and find the trust that he’s lost in himself and other people. He can even fall in love. But Presley is keeping a secret and if he tells Nate, it could be the end of everything between them. He knows it’s wrong to start another relationship based on a lie. But it isn’t a lie if you don’t say anything. Is it?
I’ve never read Felice Stevens previously but I had this on my Kindle with some other books I bought about a month ago. I thought I’d give it a read while I’m still dealing with this virus. I’m really glad I did. I’ll be honest, I did feel like I missed something not having read the book or series these characters came across from – certainly regarding Presley and his best friend, Frisco. Is it a perfectly fine standalone? Yes. It’s just that I’m fanatical about knowing as much detail as I can about characters. I didn’t know how old the MCs were. I guesstimated Presley at around 34 and Nate around 39, but I can’t be sure. It’s a thing of mine to know all the details.
Presley was the other man in a relationship (other book/series). In Fool for Love he’s left emotionally hurt by being young and in love with a manipulative guy who was married and had a child. Presley didn’t know about the marriage until years later… but he went back. He didn’t know about the child until the end. It’s been six years since Jared’s death and Presley still hasn’t moved on. His best friend Frisco, and everyone needs a Frisco in their life, tells him enough is enough, he needs to live life. Jared is not worth any (more) time spent mourning him. That Presley was silly for being mixed up with him, sure, but shit happens, and Press is a good man deserving of so much more. Enter a grief and loss support group, Lost in New York, and Presley gets a lot more than he bargained for, especially since he really doesn’t want to go in the first place. But Frisco won’t be denied.
Nate Sherman is a lawyer and partner with his older brother in the family law firm. Nate’s father died in the bed of his girlfriend, his mother’s best friend, so he has a lot of anger around what his father did three years ago which has caused more grief than usual. He has a rather large dose of misplaced idealisation of a man who didn’t quite deserve it, but family is family, and Nate can’t let go of what his father did. How fifty years married and then an affair proves love isn’t worth squat. Still, Nate places so much import on his father’s ideas it causes a lot of internal conflict. It’s made Nate a player and an unhappy, cranky man in general. His older brother Ethan suggests Lost in New York and pushes a reluctant Nate to go.
So we know Presley and Nate will meet up and it will go from there. You also know what’s going to hit the fan, cause some drama, and why. I kept waiting but while I did, the story of Presley and Nate took over and I became completely involved with them. I cared for both of these characters, they were a good match. I also liked the secondary characters, including Ethan, but Frisco was my main man. He’s awesome. Just awesome. He’s also a love ’em – a lot of them – and leave ’em kind of guy, seemingly happily so. He’s to the point, and doesn’t pussyfoot around, and he’s loyal – qualities I respect the hell out of. I found myself clipping a lot of lines from the book and when Frisco was involved it was consistently how much I loved Frisco in my own notes.
“Press, you didn’t answer me before. I’m warning you. Don’t waste time on someone who isn’t going to make you his number-one priority. This time I will butt in. I won’t let you be an afterthought.”
I rather loved Presley, the tattooed antiques dealer. He had a lot of pain and growth to work through in regards to what happened with Jared. There were some mitigating and crucial psychological circumstances in his life that contributed to the predicament he found himself in. It’s very easy to judge people without knowing everything. I see people all the time who self-harm through sex, obsessively not believing they deserve better, and who are generally lost. Felice Stevens wrote Presley in a way that was believable. He was clearly remorseful, a (once younger) man caught up in something that ran right over the top of him and consumed him. He’s relatable because he represents the flaws we all have – different flaws for different people – and that there are people who make mistakes, are hurting, and genuinely learn from what’s happened. Life is one big lesson.
Nate, I didn’t love for a while, but I did like him. He was right for Presley because he saw the good in him, but as with his father, he tended to have this ideal of what Press was. Something he needed to deal with, because when you put people up on pedestals you unrealistically and incorrectly leave them no room for error. However, for the first time Nate allows someone else to dictate some terms. Lets someone else in. Presley says no sex because he needs to find someone who knows him as an individual and whom he knows in return. He wants to date and find comfort and ease in his partner because relationships based solely around sex don’t work. Nate didn’t know it, but he needed to understand what love truly meant.
Felice Stevens has an effortlessly comfortable writing style. The well titled Fool for Love has characters that are easy to engage with and cheer for. It’s passionate and sexy without being all about one sex scene after another. The storyline delivers emotion through thoughts, words, actions, including moments of happiness, tenderness, personal emotions and reflection, and a build of background issues that needed resolution. It made the MCs likeable/ lovable, the story engaging, the contemporary NYC backdrop come alive, and for Presley and Nate’s HEA to be worked for. I’m very much looking forward to book #2 now. 4.5 Stars!