It can take years, not to mention a good deal of heartache and self-discovery, before most of us find that special someone, while others are destined to spend their entire lives searching in vain for the right partner. In this sweet and unexpectedly spicy novella by C. Kennedy, however, the heroes strike lucky. They, like only the fortunate few, connect with their soul mate at a young age and never look back.

Caleb and Nico meet when they are just ten, during a series of swimming lessons given by Caleb’s mom. Soon the two have become inseparable, and at twelve, they admit their feelings for one another and exchange their first kiss. By the time they reach seventeen, having shared all the ups and downs of high school, they’re more in love than ever. Of course, no one has any idea as to the true nature of their relationship. It hasn’t been easy, but both know it must remain a secret until they leave for college the following year, and not purely to avoid potential bullying from their classmates.

Caleb has always been protective of Nico, hardly surprising given the other boy’s violent home life. It isn’t unusual for Nico to arrive in school with bruises to show for his father’s particular brand of discipline. If his dad ever uncovered the truth about his sexuality, the consequences could be disastrous. Caleb has made it his mission to keep his boyfriend safe, but when he loses his head one day and kisses Nico in view of a teacher, he finds himself confronting his worst nightmare. Both their parents are informed of what took place, and Caleb is left powerless to defend Nico against his father’s anger.

This is a sexy coming of age story about true love, and learning to accept the rough with the smooth. Though it does deal with the sensitive subject of domestic abuse, the overall feel is upbeat and full of genuine affection. I especially enjoyed watching Caleb and Nico’s relationship blossom, as they progress from best friends to tentative boyfriends, and eventually lovers. If you’re a romantic at heart, and reading about two young people who are so obviously made for each other gives you a warm glow, this book is sure to put a smile on your face.

Written for Rainbow Book Reviews

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