Title: Berry Blue: Lessons Learned
Author: T.C. Blue
Cover Artist: Alessia Brio
Publisher: Torquere Books
Buy Link: Berry Blue: Lessons Learned
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 283 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: This fifth book in the Fruit Basket series, gives us Peter’s story but left me with a few questions and became rather self indulgent towards the end.
Peter Jamison has spent half his life believing he betrayed his first love, so when Dex is suddenly back in his life, he’s thrilled. Sure, they have their problems. They’re not the same young men they were before. They’ve grown and changed, been molded by their lives and circumstances into completely different people, but there’s still the echo of their previous relationship. It might not be enough for some people to build a relationship on, but they’re happy.
Leonard Dumfries is a lot of things. School teacher. Martial arts student. Father. He’s also thirty-nine and still single. When he finds out that the super-hot hunk he met at his own birthday party is not only involved with someone but is also his friend Riley’s uncle, Leonard is disappointed but still willing to be just friends with the man.
Life is pretty good for everyone, right up until it’s not. When Peter’s world starts to crumble around his ears, it’s up to Leonard — with a little help from friends and family — to step in with a more-than-friendly shoulder and maybe, possibly, find his own happiness while trying to ensure Peter’s, too.
Those readers who have been following this series by TC Blue will, like me, have been curious about the odd relationship between Peter (Riley’s uncle) and his lover, Dex. They seem a very ill matched couple and I don’t think I was the only reader who wanted Peter to ditch Dex and find another man who would appreciate him. Well, that’s certainly what we get with this book!
The story begins with Peter realising that things aren’t going so well between him and Dex. They were reunited a couple of years ago when Dex came back into his life after a break of about 20 years. All those years ago, Peter did something terrible which led to them splitting up and he’s doing all he can to make up to Dex all the problems his actions at that time caused. Peter goes out for the evening with his nephew Riley to celebrate the birthday of a friend of Riley and Kelly’s (the couple from the third book in the series). When Peter meets Leonard, they hit it off straightaway and become good friends. Leonard finds himself falling for Peter, but knows that nothing could happen between them because of Peter’s involvement with Dex.
I really liked the start of this book and the way that Leonard and Peter’s friendship develops. Leonard is a very sympathetic character who works hard at his job as a kindergarten teacher but who is also a little lonely. At first he’s really happy to fall into the close friendship with Peter as it helps to ease his loneliness, but his growing admiration and attraction to Peter leaves him feeling uneasy. He doesn’t want to get between Peter and Dex. I admired Leonard a great deal, liked that he was a decent man with moral fibre who was willing to set aside his own feelings. Peter is a rich older man with a slightly sleazy past but even that wasn’t enough for me to dislike him. He may have played the ‘sugar daddy’ role for a few years but he’s working hard now to redeem himself. When secrets are revealed that show Peter in a more positive light, I was pleased that the way was cleared for him and Leonard to give things a go. They worked as a couple and their romance was realistic and left me feeling happy.
I had two niggles to the story. The first is to do with Dex. After the big secret is revealed, Dex just disappears from the book. We are never told where he goes or what happens to him, even though we get some of the story from his point of view earlier in the book. This bothered me a little, although I suppose it was a case of ‘good riddance’. Another thing to do with Dex is the big betrayal of Peter when the men were young guys. I don’t want to go into details because that would constitute a major spoiler but I was left with lots of questions over how Peter was unable to remember his actions at the time.
My second niggle was to do with the last 30 or so pages of the book. TC Blue has a particular written style where her characters have an awful lot of internal dialogue. Mostly this works for me because I get a good idea of how the characters are feeling. However, I found that as the book drew to a close, the story became a little too far into the HEA and the internal dialogue began to grate a little. It seemed too self indulgent and I wished the book had ended at an earlier point. That might just be my opinion though and other readers may feel that it was necessary to see the guys work through a couple more issues before leaving them to their HEA.
Overall, though this was still a good book. I really liked Leonard and Peter, and it was fun to revisit some of the characters from the other books in the series. I think there may be another one or two books planned for this series and I shall look forward to reading those.