Title: It's Complicated
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4/5 Smooches
It's Complicated (Tucker Springs #7)
After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.
Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business — and himself — with her.
Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.
L.A. Witt has a knack for weaving a great plot and developing complex, realistic characters, and she does not disappoint in the latest installment of the Tucker Springs world, It’s Complicated. In the case of Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden, the term “it’s complicated” is a mild understatement. Every aspect of these men and their relationship is complicated. No matter how much love they have for one another, life keeps getting in their way.
Wanting each other had never been an issue. Sex was the one thing we’d gotten right from the start, and it was the last thing we’d finally given up when things had really soured. I’d promised myself when we started dating again that we’d take it slow, get our feet back under us as a couple before we went back to bed together, but damn it, that was easier said than done. Right now, I felt closer to him than I had in months, and I couldn’t see tonight ending any other way than getting as close as humanly possible.
Heart beating faster by the second, I turned into the driveway. My hard-on hadn’t lasted the entire drive, but it was sure as hell coming back now. I took my usual spot in front of the garage, and Brad parked next to it in the place that had been his before he’d moved out. Seeing his car in that space that had been empty for so long was weirdly familiar and alien all at the same time, but that thought vacated my brain when our eyes met over the roof of his car. If my cock hadn’t already been fully hard by then, it would’ve been in very short order.
At the beginning of the book, Brad and Jeff seem to be perfect for each other. The way they seem to want each other and connect both emotionally and sexually is tangible. But under the haze of that love and connection, there is a concrete layer of tension and frustration. The tension between the two men is palpable.
Brad is in love with Jeff, but he seems distrustful of the man. Although he seems to understand that Jeff has other responsibilities, Brad’s frustrations stems from the fact that he is not the number one priority in Jeff’s life. Jeff owns his own business with his ex-wife, and that business seems to take a lot of his time away from his relationship with Jeff.
Although Jeff’s bisexuality did not seem to be an issue when the couple discusses the issues that caused them to split up, Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner, Christine, plays a very prominent role in the turmoil. Now that she is pregnant with Jeff’s baby, Brad’s insecurities about the closeness of the two come screaming to the forefront. That, and the fact, that Jeff obviously had unprotected sex with his ex-wife after he and Brad were already in an established relationship.
I stopped at a coffee shop in the Light District. I wasn’t all that hungry, not with my stomach doing all these somersaults, but caffeine sounded like a winner. As I waited for my order, I sent Nathan a text. You busy?
It was ten thirty on a Saturday morning. There was a good chance he and Ryan were still in bed. Couldn’t blame them — if I had a smoking-hot guy like that in my bed, I wouldn’t be up this side of noon either. Especially since a Saturday off was a rarity for me. And yet, here I was, wide awake and grasping for coffee while my hot guy went to see his ex-wife. About a baby. His baby. Their baby.
What the fuck?
Of course, understandably so, Jeff is freaking out, too. He loves Brad. He does not want to get back together with Christine. But, he does want to be a father.
This was utterly insane. It had to be a prank. A joke. Something. A baby? Now? With my ex-wife? Really? For fuck’s sake. Every time I thought I had a handle on things, something else threw a monkey wrench into it. And the monkey wrenches seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.
No. I wasn’t going to freak out. Wiping my palms on my jeans, I took a few slow, deep breaths. I could handle this. It was overwhelming, and it wasn’t exactly a minor thing, but I would deal with it and not lose my mind in the process. I was thirty-five years old, not some fucking teenager who’d knocked up his girlfriend on prom night.
But how could I not be panicked over this? My ex-wife and business partner was pregnant with my baby. My boyfriend—ex-boyfriend?—and I were on ground that was way too fragile for any kind of upheaval. Cursing under my breath, I thumped the wheel with my fist. This was insane.
Neither man seems mature enough to make their relationship work.
This is not a typical man meets man romance. It also is not a typical romance between two men in an established relationship. Witt has tackled a complex topic, and the idea of happily ever after seems way out of reach for these two men, yet, Witt drags in the reader who hoping for that HEA. It is Witt’s writing style, prose and dialogue that catapult the reader into this story hook, line and sinker.
Witt does a wonderful job of showing how messy and complicated real-life can be, even when two people seem to love each other and want things to work out. By alternating point of views with each chapter, Witt is able to show the perspective of each man as he struggles through trying to figure out what he wants and whether or not the four of them (Christine, Brad, Jeff and the new baby) can have a life together. The back-and-forth perspective is what makes this story so engaging.
As with other Witt books, the characters in this book have very real flaws, which contribute to the elements of realism and perpetuate the angst. There is not a lot of action in this book, but the plot, though simple in construct, is intense. Witt does a great job pulling the reader into the emotional turmoil of the characters and their lives, which seem to be spiraling out of control at points in the story.
The fictional town of Tucker Springs is located on the western slope of Colorado, in between Grand Junction and Silverton. One of the themes of Tucker Springs is that what you see is not what you get. The collaborative world of Tucker Springs, with a population of approximately 75,000, has been created by L.A. Witt, Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. The books in this series can be read as standalone novels, but the characters do interact from book to book.
Thank you to Net Galley and Riptide Publishing for providing a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.