Reviewed by Ami
Title: Handle With Care
Author: Cari Z
Series: Dreamspun Desires #68
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 194 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: A fragile heart needs extra care.
Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years–boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas–and a difficult homecoming.
Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.
Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?
Review: I think Cari Z. is a wonderful storyteller and I love her work. Decorated with a little drama – not over the top, mind you, just a combination of siblings separated due to circumstances and a wedding to attend – as well as ROAD TRIP, Handle with Care is another solid contemporary, friends-to-lovers romance.
Social worker Aaron McCoy is forced to take vacation by his boss who thinks that the way he dedicates himself to the job is no longer healthy. Not knowing what to do for two weeks, Aaron lets his best friend, Tyler, cajole him to attend his younger brother’s wedding, as well as taking a road-trip together.
The thing is, Aaron doesn’t really know how to feel about seeing his brother again after so many years apart – Zach was adopted by his current foster parents while Aaron wasn’t – as well as being together with Tyler in a closed space because, well, he’s been having feelings towards his best friend.
I really, really LOVED the dynamic between Aaron and the family here – as in, his younger brother, the foster parents who adopted Zach but not him, and the sister-in-law to be. I loved how Cari Z. explored Aaron’s turmoil about it – he still feels a bit bitter about not being adopted, but at the same time, Aaron understands why the Ellis family chooses Zach over him. Aaron is a little bit awkward about it, but then his future sister-in-law manages to reel him in, and I LOVED those scenes.
Aaron and Tyler’s relationship from best friends to lovers feels natural… nothing was forced, and I loved how they are complete opposites but perfect for each other. I honestly cannot think of anyone for Aaron other than Tyler, and vice versa. Cari Z. manages to make me root for these boys so hard!!
The only slight complaint I have is between Aaron and his birth mother – it comes as a bit of a surprise. I’m not sure if it was needed. Also with Zach’s obnoxious friend. However, I figure that Cari Z. put those characters to add flair to this novel.
I devoured the majority of Handle with Care on a flight back from Banyuwangi (East Java) to Jakarta (Indonesia’s capital and my hometown) during my last office trip; it was a very good read and definitely helped me pass the almost two-hour journey.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*