I absolutely loved the first part of the This Will Hurt Duet and couldn’t wait to read the second part with Roe’s POV on this emotional rollercoaster friends-to-lovers, bisexual awakening, slow burn MM romance. And the second part did not disappoint in the beautiful friendship and all pining and suppressed attraction between Jake and Roe, but there were some parts that I felt conflicted about morally.
The This Will Hurt Duet follows the two friends and business partners Jake and Roe from their first meeting as young and broke film students and onwards over the years as they become best friends, roommates and partners in a very successful travel show and production company. Over the years they get married and have children, but there is always a burning attraction between them. In the first part of the duet, the story was told from Jake’s POV, where we got to see his struggle with internal homophobia and the ‘forbidden’ feelings for his friend. Here in the second part, the story continues from Roe’s POV after him getting married and becoming a father, while still loving Jake.
I love Jake and Roe as a couple, and how they first of all are friends, always there for each other and happy for each other even though it means getting hurt yourself. I also love the way the interacted with each other’s children and how they created a new kind of family with Jake’s ex and sister and the company crew.
But there was a major set-back for me in this part of the duet compared to the first one. Please be aware that there will be spoiler alerts from now on, so stop reading if you haven’t read this book yet.
Cheating is a big no no for me, and even though I can understand and sympathize with the reason behind it, and even though I wanted nothing more than for Jake and Roe to be together, it really made it hard for me to accept the way Cara Dee made it happen. I wish she could have made them achieve that in a different way and without crossing that moral line and making the beautiful love story between Jake and Roe felt petty and dirty.
I also reacted to the way Roe treated Sandra and especially how the post-partum depression was used as a way out from his marriage without making him the bad guy.
“I’m already a secondary character in your life.” Sandra said to Roe.
I completely agree with Sandra here. It felt like Roe was cheating on her long before he did it physically. I think he should have been honest with her way before, and found a way to co-parent instead of holding on and even getting more children together. And the way she completely avoided the twins and refused to get any help without Roe or Sandra’s mother intervening more forcefully just seemed like the author was making up excuses as to why it was ok for Roe to cheat.
There was also something lacking in the passion and angst in regard to the relationship between Jake and Roe. Maybe because Roe didn’t have the same struggle with internal homophobia, commitment issues and denial that Jake had. I can’t help feeling that it might have been better for the story to be told in alternating POVs rather than in two separate installments. But that’s just my personal opinion of course.
But those objections aside, overall, there were so many things I loved about this series and the wonderful relationship between Jake and Roe that only grew stronger over the years. The story was so realistic and authentic, and I truly rooted for Jake and Roe. The love story itself is definitely a five star one, but because of the moral lines that were crossed, I have to settle for a three star rating.
But please don’t let that discourage you from reading this beautiful and emotional story about friendship, love and family. Despite my moral objections it’s still a wonderful story about overcoming internal struggles and past trauma for a chance of true love.
I received a free ARC of this book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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This Will Hurt was such a delightful, addictive and entertaining first installment in this new friends-to-lovers, bisexual awakening, slow burn MM romance duet by Cara Dee, and I’m counting the days to the release of the second installment! I need Roe’s story NOW!
This duet follows the two friends and business partners Jake and Roe from their first meeting as young and broke film students and onwards over the years as they become best friends, roommates and partners in a very successful travel show and production company. This first installment is told from Jake’s POV, but in the second one we’ll get to see it all from Roe as well.
Jake is a former Marine, who’s been a war photographer and who has a lot of baggage with him from the war and from his upbringing in a conservative religious and homophobic home. He suffers from internal homophobia after a childhood trauma, and problems with expressing his emotions as well as with closeness and commitment. The only one who seems to truly get him is Roe. But when Roe reveals that he’s bisexual, it stirs a lot of thoughts and complicated emotions for Jake.
There were so many things I loved about this book! Like the wonderful relationship between Jake and Roe, and how it was both a classic bisexual awakening story at the same time as it had a new take with Jake’s internal homophobia and denial of his own emotions. There was so much angst and pining!
I loved how the focus was on Jake’s and Roe’s friendship, and how there was no immediate lust or desire when they met, which made it feel much more authentic and made me root even more for the slow burn romance. The book spanned so many years, which gave the characters room to grow and learn, and to build their feelings for each other in the most believable way.
I’m personally not a fan of the internal homophobia trope, but Cara Dee did a wonderful job with it here. I really appreciated how she showed that there are many nuances to finding out and accepting who you are, especially if you’re pre-wired a certain way due to your upbringing.
Another of my least favorite tropes is the accidental pregnancy one, but I could live with it here considering how wonderful Jake was as a dad, and how sweet baby Colin adds to the home-building part of Jake’s and Roe’s relationship.
Some of the other things that made this book so special was the funny bantering and authentic dialogues, Jake’s badass grandmother, their group of friends and the fun and spicy scenes with Jake and Roe bartending at a gay club and doing the ‘Tequila Licker’...
All in all, this was an emotional rollercoaster, which opened up for important discussions about internal homophobia at the same time as it was fast-paced, fun and addictive with authentic characters to root for. I desperately need to continue this duet, even though I already know how it will live up to its title and hurt me emotionally!
Thank you so much Eliza Rae Services for the ARC! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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