Series: The Distance Between Us #3
Published by Samhain Publishing Genres: Erotica, Gay
Reviewed by Cassie
Fool me three times... Dale Ramsey is looking forward to his twenty-year high school reunion except for one small problem. Adam O’Connor, his old friend—and old flame. Twice before, Adam has disappeared from Dale’s life. Once after a graduation night fling, and again after a hot reunion years later. When Adam resurfaces this time, single and on the verge of retiring from the Navy, Dale wonders if he’ll want to mend fences...and maybe tear up some sheets. The spark between them is alive and well, but Dale resists. After all, Adam only seems to come around when his life is in flux, and Dale is through being a placeholder until something better comes along. He wants his friend back, but not if he’ll be deserted a third time. Inevitably, though, their attempts to rekindle their friendship wind up igniting something much hotter, and stirring up emotions too strong to ignore. Making Dale wonder if he should put his heart on the line...or if this time he should be the one to walk away. Warning: Let’s face it, Dale’s been sitting quietly (well, kind of) on the sidelines since The Distance Between Us, and he waited patiently through The Closer You Get. Dude is seriously ready for some scorching-hot action, so keep a fire extinguisher and some ice handy. These boys are gonna need it...
Dale Ramsey’s twenty-year high school reunion is coming up, but he’s torn on whether or not to go. He likes the thought of seeing old friends—except for one. Adam O’Connor was his best friend in high school, right up until he left for the Navy. The last two times they saw each other, they ended up in bed together, after which Adam disappeared from Dale’s life. Dale isn’t sure he wants to risk being hurt again.
When he decides to go, he’s not surprised to see Dale. He’s a little surprised to hear that Dale is about to retire from the Navy, however. The attraction between them burns as hotly as it always has. Will this time be different, or will Dale once again end up hurt and alone?
Meet Me in the Middle is an enjoyable tale of love long delayed. Dale tells his story with humor and emotion. Adam had gone from his best friend, to his lover, to completely absent from his life, all in a short span of time. Then, at their ten year reunion, Dale allows his and Adam’s chemistry to lead him into another short fling with his former friend. Both times Adam disappears without much—or any—contact directly afterward, leaving a big hole in Dale’s life. Dale is afraid to hope that this time could be different, but his friends convince him he should go to his reunion anyway.
Of course Adam’s attending the reunion, and this time he’s about to leave the Navy after a twenty year career. Dale tells himself he’s not going to fall into Adam’s bed this time, but he does. Afterward, he tells himself not to get his hopes up. He’s surprised when they keep in touch this time, and begins to wonder if the third time might be the charm, only he’s too afraid of being hurt again to let himself take that risk.
I really liked Dale. He’s a good man, a good friend, and realistic about his own failings. In general, he has a good life, but he’s always felt the loss of Adam, both as a friend and as a lover. Their rekindled friendship is as important to him as sex, if not more so, and because of this he tries to hold Adam at arms’ length. If he doesn’t let himself have any expectations, or feelings other than friendship, he won’t get hurt again. This is easier said than done. Fortunately, he has a group of very good friends who help him navigate the dangerous waters of reuniting with Adam.
Adam himself is more of a puzzle. Seen through Dale’s eyes, it’s difficult to understand Adam’s denial, his string of failed marriages, and his choices. Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a career Navy man had few choices, so that’s one explanation. He manages to redeem himself through his actions toward Dale over the course of the book.
At its heart, Meet Me in the Middle is a friends-turned-lovers tale, but it’s also a story of reunions, friendship, and love lost and found. I think it might have been good to read the previous books in the series first, so I could understand the interactions between the secondary characters better, but Meet Me in the Middle stood alone well enough. It’s a sweet, hopeful story with a well-earned ending. Be prepared to say “Aww!” at the end.