Title: The Closer You Get (Distance Between Us #2)
Author: L.A. Witt
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (170 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Could someone as determined as Keiran resist the hold that Alex had on his heart?
The virgin isn’t the only one with something to lose...
Self-described manwhore Kieran Frost is loving the single life. Two years after moving to Seattle, he still has his friends with benefits, Rhett and Ethan, plus a never-ending supply of gorgeous, available men wandering through the bar where he works. A relationship? Spare him the drama and heartbreak. He’s got no complaints about his unattached lifestyle.
When Rhett’s daughter introduces him to newly-out-of-the-closet Alex Corbin, Kieran’s interest perks up. After all, the quiet ones are always the freaks in bed. But Alex isn’t just shy and reserved. He’s a virgin in every sense of the word, having never even kissed anyone else.
Kieran is no one’s teacher, and his first instinct is to run like hell in the other direction. But his conscience won’t let him throw the naïve kid to the wolves for someone else to take advantage of. The plan is to introduce Alex to his own sexuality, pull him out of his shell, then go their separate ways.
It’s the perfect, foolproof plan…assuming no one falls in love
The Distance Between Us introduced Keiran Frost who was “friends with benefits” with two horny older men, Rhett and Ethan, with whom he shared a house. Ethan and Rhett were going through some major relationship issues, in fact they had broken up and were only sharing the house until they could sell it once the real estate market improved. Enter hot looking Keiran who was looking for a place to stay, and both men’s libidos woke up with a vengeance as they hooked up with Keiran separately and together. At the time I wished that Keiran would return in his own story because he was such a wonderful character and this book is L.A. Witt’s response to the pleas of her fans.
It’s now several months later and Keiran has his own apartment and Rhett and Ethan are back together. One evening Keiran dropped by as they were celebrating their daughter Sabrina’s twenty first birthday and she asked Keiran to show her friend Alex around Seattle as he was new in town. Initially Keiran wasn’t keen until he saw him. Alex was shy, sweet and innocent from a small town in Montana and Keiran agreed to keep him away from the big bad wolves; unfortunately he was the biggest and baddest wolf around. Although Keiran wanted Alex, he had a policy of no attachments in his life and he realized that he really shouldn’t have anything to do with Alex because he could end up hurting him. But life has a way of ignoring the plans of mice and men and Keiran’s attraction to Alex accelerated until he was faced with a major stumbling block – Alex was a virgin. Keiran didn’t know if he wanted to be with someone who was so inexperienced that the fallout could be disastrous when they eventually stopped seeing each other. In his mind there could only be one outcome.
Their journey of discovery was fascinating as it revealed a different Keiran, one who was tender and loving who didn’t try to give in to his baser instincts and actually showed a great deal of restraint by not pushing Alex into something he might not be ready for immediately. He wanted Alex’s first time to be a positive one, something he would remember for the rest of his life as a wonderful experience. Keiran had one rule and that was “no expectations”: as far as he was concerned this would be nothing more than helping Alex with his first sexual experience. As for Alex he didn’t even know how to be gay since he had never even kissed a man, so this was all new to him.
This book is very romantic as Alex was gently wooed by Keiran into a world where sex was only part of what was on the menu. L.A. Witt showed the complexity of both characters by demonstrating how their strengths and weaknesses complemented each other’s. Even though Alex was inexperienced he was no one’s boy toy and he was definitely calling the shots. As for Keiran, no one had affected him the way Alex did and he was out of his league and falling hard for the shy kid from Montana. However his parents’ marriage and divorce still soured his outlook on love so he wasn’t looking for anything more than a brief hookup.
The way the characters evolved is what made me re-read this book immediately. Alex gradually changed from the sweet, innocent, uncertain man/boy into a fully actualized man who knew what he wanted and made his needs clear. Despite his doubts about relationships due to his experience with a father who was a serial cheater, and a mother who could or would not move on with her life, Keiran changed from a perpetual manwhore to becoming addicted to Alex as he was no longer the goal oriented man with sex as his #1 objective. I loved watching how Alex confounded and distracted him; what was remarkable was that while the sex was very much what they both wanted, it was an undercurrent rather than the driving force. They wanted to be together all the time as they got to know each other, and the progression of their relationship moved from giving Alex a great first sexual experience to becoming involved.
L.A. Witt’s books always manage to give a clear sense of time and place. In this case she chose Seattle, her old stomping ground, as the background for her story and the prose was delightful as she described the gay scene in the city as well as distinctive landmarks, which made me feel as if I were there with Alex and Keiran.
What set this book apart for me was that the sex really advanced the plot, something that seemed to be missing from a lot of the books I’ve read lately where having sex is like something as mundane as going to the grocery store. The first kiss they shared was special:
His fingers tightened on my shoulder. I tilted my head, closed my eyes, and pressed my lips to his. For a moment we were both still. With the release of a long breath across my cheek, he relaxed against the wall. With the release of my breath, I relaxed against him, though I somehow found the presence of mind – and the restraint – to keep our hips from touching.
Inhaling deeply through my nose, I parted my lips, gently encouraging him to do the same. He didn’t resist….
The Closer You Get is funny, it’s about family and how they screw up the lives of everyone around them, it’s about living in fear that your deepest secret would be found out and the possible consequences, it’s also about choices and most of all it’s about the love of one person becoming as essential as breathing. I loved the prose and internal dialogue, and Keiran’s first person POV showed his vulnerability despite the self confident image he projected as Alex shattered his defenses.
L.A. Witt has improved incredibly as a writer since I read her first M/M book and the growth of her characters in The Closer You Get indicates this better than I expected. This book can be read as a standalone but it would probably be better enjoyed if you read The Distance Between Us first.