Cover: Emmy Ellis
Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright room together as Harvard undergraduates. An immediate friendship forms, but as the years pass it deepens into something neither man understands. As attraction simmers under the surface, lines begin to blur. When they move back to Manhattan, they gradually slip into the lives their families have envisioned for them.
Both men marry, but in time, Riley realizes he’s ended up in a passionless relationship like his parents’ while his career takes center stage. Although he loves his wife, Carter misses the emotional and physical connection he shared with Riley.
The weight of Riley’s feelings and his growing discontentment with his life eventually push him to tell Carter the truth about how he feels. Shocked and unable to face his own feelings, Carter rejects Riley.
As each man comes to terms with the lies they’ve told themselves, each other and the people around them, they find their lives changing in ways they never imagined. They soon discover that the truths they’ve been longing to tell shake the foundations of their friendship.
A love worth the wait.
When Riley Porter-Wright comes out as bisexual and confesses his feelings for Carter Hamilton, it severs their friendship. Carter’s rejection forces Riley to move on and he’s shocked to learn Carter’s marriage has fallen apart.
Overwhelmed by his failure as a husband and father, Carter misses Riley, but feels guilty for disappearing after Riley's coming out. After Riley extends an olive branch, the former friends agree to repair their relationship.
Slowly, Carter pieces together a new life. He admits his attraction to men, and confesses his feelings for Riley. Leery of Carter's initial rejection, Riley turns his focus on a new man, Will Martin.
Riley and Carter’s renewed rapport intensifies, and Will becomes insecure. Will's resentment increases until he issues an ultimatum, forcing Riley to refocus his energies away from Carter.
Disappointed, Carter fosters new friendships with men like Jesse Murtagh. Aware of the changes in Carter’s life, Riley is uncomfortable knowing Carter has moved on.
Carter and his ex-wife, Kate, navigate new waters as their children learn their parents are dating other people. Will can’t deal with his jealousy and ends his relationship with Riley.
Unattached for the first time in years, Riley and Carter slowly transition their friendship into a relationship. Carter comes out and leaves his job, accepting the reality of being disowned.
Riley and Carter go public with their relationship, but worry the fallout will affect their families. Drawing strength from each other, they meet the challenges of being an out couple head on.
About a week ago this tweet showed up on my timeline and Twitter feed quite a lot. Today, while reading Calm I was reminded of the tweet again. Not because Riley and Carter act like teenagers so much — they’re actually very grown up and sensible about how they’re dealing with their lives and their relationships — but because of all the things they have to figure out all over again, and for certain developments that closely resemble growing up and moving on to lead your own life.
I apologize, I was horribly vague in that previous paragraph but that is very much on purpose. While I am perfectly comfortable revealing that this book centres around Riley and Carter figuring out who they really are, both as individuals and together, I much prefer not to go into details. Trust me when I say that the journey these two men undertake is beautiful, realistic, and unputdownable.
I’ve said it before and I’m not afraid to say it again: I love books that take me away from the tried and trusted and give me a new (to me) sorta story. Calm, like Wake before it, is such a story and it managed to totally take me by surprise. For example, I had prepared myself for high levels of angst (which, as regular readers will know, I’m not very good with), only to discover that while the story is bursting with emotion it’s not angst-driven at all.
There was so much in this book I absolutely adored I could easily write a novella length review without sharing all the details. I’ll spare you that and will try to limit myself to one or two things that really stood out for me.
First and foremost, the story-lines in these books can all be caught under the same label: realism. All too often in romance novels there are one or two moments when the reader has to suspense disbelieve and just go with the flow. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it was wonderful to read a book in which the story and the character development felt so real that I could almost believe I was reading an (auto) biography or memoir rather than a novel. And, for me, this was most obvious in the way the various relationships played out. Carter building a new relationship with Kate, his ex-wife and the mother of his two children, felt real, not to mention that it closely resembles how I feel divorces should play out, especially when there are kids involved.
Furthermore, I loved that there are no perfect characters or easy solutions in this story. This is a slice of life and while the happily ever after was definitely there when I reached the end of the book, even that was coloured by realism rather than fairytales. And that is what made this book so very special; I not only believed that Carter and Riley would be happy ever after, I’m also convinced theirs is the sort of happy ending all of us can aspire to.
The secondary characters in this book were wonderful and I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am that the authors are working on a spin-off series in which we’ll get to see more of Jesse, Kyle, and hopefully Will. And the fact that I can’t imagine Riley and Carter not making regular appearances in those new books too only heightens my delight.
Long story short, Calm and Wake are well written, captivating, and truly unique stories featuring characters I came to care for deeply and a story that will stick with me for a very long time. Well done ladies, you created an absolutely stunning two book series! I’m looking forward to any future co-writing you may end up doing.
Related Review: Wake
September 14 - MM Good Book Blog Tours
K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.
K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.
Brigham Vaughn is starting the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.