Length: 86,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Jay Aheer
An Hoang hasn’t had a real relationship in years. With his pediatrics practice and a niece to care for on his days off, he doesn’t have the headspace for more than a simple roll in the sack. But when he meets Nate—who just happens to be the gorgeous construction worker he encountered in the lobby of his apartment building—something about Nate makes it impossible for him not to care. When Nate needs An’s help with his son, An doesn’t refuse.
What happens when Nate’s past and An’s old-fashioned parents interfere just as the two men begin to fall for each other? Will they find the means to be brave and give their love a chance to flourish?
“I’ve had plenty of lovers, but they’ve mostly been one-night stands. People I meet on the internet who are well aware I don’t want anything more than a hook-up. I tried relationships once or twice, but they never got past the beginning stages. I couldn’t—” He stopped. He’d been staring at the lines on his palms and tracing them back and forth with his fingernail, until they turned pink, but now he looked up into Nate’s face. “I may as well still be in the closet. I don’t deserve to be called brave.”
“Hey,” Nate said, trying to stop his mind from fixating on An’s words, I don’t want anything more than a hook-up. He remembered the conversation from earlier. An had said he never brought guys around. “If you knew your parents would suspect any guy you were with of being involved with you, why didn’t we go somewhere else for lunch?”
It wasn’t what An was expecting to hear from him. He had that quizzical expression on his face, like he just didn’t understand. “You and Dai wanted dim sum.”
“We could’ve gone to another place even if that one was Dai’s favorite. Why’d you risk it? It worried you from the beginning, even before we left.”
A few moments of silence stretched out between them. An blinked, as if Nate’s words had surprised him. “I wanted to take you there. You and Dai. I didn’t want fear of my parents to stop me from doing that.”
Nate nodded. Pride and admiration for An welled up inside him. “That’s you being brave. I’m sorry if you don’t agree, but that’s what bravery is—having something you’re scared of and facing it head-on. You’re stronger than you think, An.” If he hadn’t grown up with Amy and with parents as understanding as his were, would Nate have been strong enough to do what An was doing every day?
“Don’t,” An said, and there was something in his voice. A soft tremor that Nate had never heard there before, which made him want to take An in his arms and— “You’re always so nice, and you shouldn’t be.”
“I’m just telling the truth. And why shouldn’t I be nice to you? You’re the nicest guy I’ve ever met.” The nicest, the bravest, the best.
An’s lips quirked into a tight smile. “Am I so very nice? It’s easy to be nice to someone like you. Nate… You don’t—you really should stop.”
Nate couldn't understand this. Not completely. But he knew it was important to resist. “No,” he said, and his heart beat faster as he spoke, “I don’t want to stop being nice. Why should I?”
An didn't answer for a moment. He had his eyes glued to the palm of his hand again and he was digging fingernails into the skin there. When his words came they were in a whisper: “If you don’t, you’ll make me fall for you.”
Nate reached over and grabbed the offending hand, held An’s fingers tight enough that An looked up at him again, startled. Nate could feel An’s pulse, frenetic beneath his skin. His own breath quickened, and his mouth was suddenly so dry he could barely get his words out. But he did anyway.
“Would it be such a bad thing if you did? Fall for me?”
Brave for You is Crystal Lacy’s debut M/M romance, and she does a good job of telling An and Nate’s story. The characters are likable and will have you rooting for their happy ending, and the writing is solid if a bit over-informative at times.
I really liked Nate, and admired how he handled becoming a full-time working single parent under difficult circumstances. I didn’t understand though with his wife having been gone as long as she was by the start of this story why he hadn’t started any kind of official court proceedings, especially once he decided to pursue a relationship with An. As for An, I liked his character even more, and empathized with his reticence to get too close to Nate given Nate’s situation with his marriage.
Those who know me know I’m not usually a fan of kids in romance books. In this case though, the story would not have worked without them. Nate’s son Neil is one of the sweetest babies, and I’ll bet every parent would hope to have such an agreeable infant to deal with—he was like everyone’s dream baby. An’s niece Dai is precocious for her age, but I found her adorable most of the time.
Nate’s sister and her partner are great supporting characters, as is An’s friend and business partner Freddie, and his sister Linh. An’s parents on the other hand…yeah, I wasn’t a fan and I think it’s safe to say fans of this genre will probably say the same.
The relationship between Nate and An starts slowly, going from unknown neighbors to friends to lovers—at no time did I feel like anything was rushed between them. It was good to see the relationship development as they became closer and closer. That made it all the more difficult to stomach the scenes with Olivia (Nate’s past coming back), even more so once she started explaining herself.
Brave for You was a 3.5-star read for me, with my rating being most affected by those scenes when Olivia showed up, but also by the fact that there was quite a bit of extra information—like food descriptions…a lot of them—that wasn’t really needed to advance the story. It was an entertaining story though, and I’m interested to read about one of the minor side characters that was introduced here in the next book in the series. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
Crystal is a long-time fangirl and writes slash fanfiction for the Harry Potter and NBC Hannibal fandoms. She has a deep love for fandom culture, and can be frequently spotted on Twitter and Tumblr reblogging pretty fan art.
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