Book Review: Where He Ends and I Begin by Cardeno C.

Where He Ends and I Begin by Cardeno C.Title: Where He Ends and I Begin
Series: Home, Book 3
Author: Cardeno C.
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided by author
Published: June 6, 2011 by Dreamspinner Press

Jake Owens, aggressive, physical, blunt and brave, is a football hero turned city cop. Nate Richardson, his best friend since before forever, is thoughtful, quiet, and kind, a brilliant doctor who has always known who he is and that Jake is the love of his life—and loyal, courageous, straight Jake has never had a clue.

But Jake has been nursing his own case of the unrequiteds, and he’s never been as straight as Nate assumes. Nate may think their passionate explosion is a fluke, a result of too much closeness for too long, but Jake is bound and determined to prove to him otherwise. For Jake, the question isn’t how they ended up in bed together... it’s how can he convince Nate that he wants and needs to stay there.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: Emotionally laden romance with excellent alternating dual first-person narration that I devoured. Its cloying sweetness and perfection hit my romance sweet-tooth perfectly.

The Set Up: Jake and Nate grew up best friends. They’ve shared life’s ups and downs but neither told the other they were in love. This changes on a vacation and will alter the course of their lives forever.

Why I Read this Book: I’ve been enjoying this author’s backlist.

What I Liked: I loved this book’s narration. Jake and Nate alternate first person narration but they overlap. For instance, there is a sexual encounter at book’s beginning and readers see Jake’s feelings and thoughts and then get Nate’s about the same situation. I loved this intimate and holistic look at the men’s thoughts and feelings. I think this was especially important since this book is sole about the men’s relationship; there is no big mystery or suspense plot to distract from the emotionally charged friends to lovers romance. On the flip side this offered me a pathway of knowing what was coming up in the romance development. For example, Jake overhears Nate’s friends warning Nate away from the seemingly-straight Jake and reacts before readers see Nate’s response. Then the narration shifts to Nate’s viewpoint and readers see what Nate says and does. I loved this narration so well when normally I detest first person narration.

Also part of the narration is the inclusion of Nate and Jake’s life together. Each of the men will remember anecdotes from childhood or early adulthood, like when Nate came out to Jake or when Jake’s parents were killed in a car crash. As a reader this helped me understand how symbiotic Nate and Jake’s relationship was from their birth until they became life partners. This deepened the emotional intimacy of the romance and I loved it.

What I Also Liked: I’m a sucker for the friends to lovers romance trope and I got that here but without a lot of angst that usually happens for the previously “straight” lead. Jake’s total acceptance of his love for Nate had a simplicity that is rarely found in gay-for-you books and I ate it with a spoon! This book is emotionally intense where every sex scene is steeped in the men’s grandiose feelings for each other and I loved this huge romantic relationship.

The other unique thing about this romance is how much of the book (about 70%) happens after the I-love-you’s are spoken. The bulk of the romance tension is how these two men embrace their changed relationship. They figure out big things like exes, and where they’ll live as well as small things like taking care of each other and public displays of affection. Some readers may be bored with this but I really loved it.

What I Didn’t Like: I admit this book is unadulterated emotional cotton candy. Even the sex (and there is a-l-o-t!) is full of how perfect the men are for each other and how they can communicate without needing to say a word and how in tune they are with each other that they know when the other walks in the room. I suspect this may make some readers’ romance sweet tooth ache but it hit mine perfectly.

My only real complaint with this book is Jake is keeping a pretty large secret from Nate about the death of Jake’s parents. Jake even discusses this with Nate’s mother and acknowledges he’s keeping it a secret from Nate because he doesn’t want Nate to have guilt about it. As a reader this seemed huge and I wanted the secret to come out but it didn’t and this felt like a big miss in the men’s relationship. I suppose the argument could be made it shows Jake’s total devotion to Nate and his happiness but it slightly reeked of paternalism in my opinion where Jake decided what was best for Nate.

IMO: I loved how this romance was told as well as the huge, idealistic relationship between two nearly perfect men.

J9’s Rating:
4 Frogs


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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.

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