Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
"It's going to be another hot one."
This was the last thing the bubbly radio forecaster announced before Julian Capeletti switched off the radio. It was just too damn early in the morning for that much perkiness.
"Great," he grumbled as he sat up in bed and tried to rub the sleep from his face.
He hated mornings. Some people heard birds chirping, appreciated sunrises, and saw everything through rainbow-colored glasses in the early morning hours, but that just wasn't him.
Especially when he didn't have work.
He just couldn't muster the energy needed to be as functional as he was in the late hours—when he found his groove and could tackle even the most complex third plane mathematical equation anyone could throw at him. Mornings, well, it was a short list. Wake up, shower, drink coffee. Oh yeah, and don't forget to get dressed somewhere in between. He didn't need to have the perky announcer tell him about the weather, he could feel it firsthand as the sweat began to trickle down his chest.
"Fucking gross," he moaned as he rose from bed and made his way to the bathroom.
He followed the same routine every morning. He stared at himself in the mirror, in search of…what, who knew. He splashed some water on his face and looked again. Maybe he should try holy water or some other miracle that would change what stared back at him. He saw the hint of dark circles under his eyes and he hated it.
Vanity wasn't the issue, the dark circles were a reminder of the turn of bad luck that had plagued him for almost two years.
Like a series of snapshots, he always ran the images of that day through his mind. The one that marked the beginning of when it all started going to shit with no end in sight. Well, more than usual at least. The day his last steady foreman project ended because the owner faced trafficking charges and fled the country to avoid his impending capture. With assets frozen, the site was closed down and everyone was out of a job and a steady paycheck. He'd left work early to seek comfort in the arms of his partner, an eternal optimist, and found him busy giving comfort of a different type to another guy.
"Asshole," he mumbled into the towel as he dried his face. Maybe a shower would work. Even if it didn't wake him up, at least it would wash away the disgusting reminder of the South Florida blazing summer heat and humidity.
Freshly showered, Julian read the classifieds as he sipped his coffee. He closed his eyes and exhaled, enjoying the caffeine and sugar slowly bringing him to life. Finally. He skimmed the want ads searching for anything new that morning, something he hadn't already called on that week. He grabbed the monthly community paper and spotted the listing with a large bold headline "Handyman Wanted for Repairs". A long list of requirements followed, far beyond those for a traditional handyman. He exhaled sharply and frowned. He had seen this a lot lately, another potential employer taking advantage of the desperation in the workforce, wanting to hire someone for nothing. The laundry list of responsibilities read like the licensing exam for a contractor, not a handyman's job description. Cheap bastard. "Contact Mr. Boner" it read toward the end, followed by an address and phone number. He couldn't resist smiling at the play on words.
"No wonder Boner wants a handyman." He chuckled.
A knock at the door interrupted his morning read through the ads.
"Hey, Jules, you in there?"
Julian cringed, not just at the nickname he hated so strongly, but at the voice he knew came to deliver bad news. He reluctantly rose to answer the knock.
"Hi, David," he said as he slowly opened the door to greet the short, paunchy landlord.
"So, you got my rent this month?" David asked hopefully.
"I'll have some money for you by the end of the week." He rubbed his hands on his towel and looked away.
"That's what you said last week." David shifted to cross his arms in an attempt to intimidate.
Julian looked down at the short man and couldn't blame him for trying. He knew David well enough to realize that he didn't have a choice but to push at this point. He figured the guy was getting some unneeded pressure from the boss.
"I gave you some money last week."
"That was to cover the rent from two months ago. What about last month or this one?"
Julian's head began to hurt. This had been the ritual almost every day for the last month. He was a creature of habit, but there were some customs he wished would change.
"David, I told you I'd have some by the end of the week. I just need a little time."
"That's what they all say!" His landlord raised his arms in frustration.
"Look, I know I'm late, I'm not denying that, but at least when you come knocking, I don't run and hide from you like your other tenants. I said I'll have money for you at the end of the week and I will. I've never backed down on my word."
"Yet, you're late on your monthly payment."
"And I told you I would be. Fuck, David, I said I was going to be late and you agreed it wasn't a problem as long as I paid you something each week. I'm doing that." He rubbed his shaved head roughly.
"How much? Will it be enough to cover the two months you owe me?" David pleaded.
"I don't know. I'm guessing probably not by the end of the week."
"Jules, I can't keep doing this."
"I know. I just need some time," Julian said quietly, looking away as he rubbed his wrist cuff.
"Why don't you sell your truck?"
Julian looked at him as if the burly man had sprouted another head. "Dude, I'm not selling my truck. I need it for work."
"Please, Jules, I like you, but I can't have you livin' here for free. You know that. My bosses are pushing me for the rent. I need two months' rent by the end of the week or they're forcing me to kick you out of here."
Julian could see both frustration and understanding in the man's eyes. He'd known this day would come. Had dreaded it for the last few weeks. He rubbed his head and looked away. He tried to make an honest living, avoided trouble, and where did that leave him? Standing in his doorway with a towel around his waist trying to think of ways to scavenge up two months' rent just to be back at square one again. He couldn't think of anything to say so he simply nodded.
David looked at him and patted him on the shoulder. "Jules, you're a hard worker and a smart cookie. I'm sure you'll find a way."
Ugh. First Jules now cookie. Seriously?
"Thanks, David," he grumbled, hoping that would give the man the signal to turn and leave.
Mission accomplished. He closed the door and leaned his forehead against it. He blew out a deep breath, willing a new idea to blindside him. He thought of different quickie jobs and crossed each one off for different reasons. Well, he always had the option to sell his ass on Eighth Street, but who was he kidding? No one would give him two months' rent for his bits. He laughed at himself. He had to. It was the only way he'd remain sane when life gave him the shit end of the stick. He turned to see the newspaper still sitting on the table. He walked over and grabbed his coffee and gulped the little bit of remaining java along with his pride.
If the guy needed a handyman, he was going to be the best damn handyman that cheap bastard had ever seen. If that didn't work, well, Eighth Street was actually starting to sound pretty damn good.
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.
Author Interview with Jamie Reese
1: what's your favorite restaurant?
2: what's your favorite room to decorate?
I don't decorate. LOL
3:if one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
The soundtrack would probably depend on whatever I'm dealing with at the time.
Right now, I'd probably say F*ckin' Perfect by P!nk. It's the same message my hubby keeps repeating. I'm in the process of releasing the sequel to my book. I'm questioning everything. LOL
4: Marilyn , Audrey, or Jackie?
Jackie – she had style.
5: if money were no object, what's one thing you'd buy?
A large house on a hill with all the bells and whistles for comfortable living surrounded by plenty of green space and a stunning water view. I'm a homebody. I enjoy the quiet time at home. I've always loved to see pics of
and other places where you see hills of green. It's gorgeous. I grew up (and
still live) in a major city so I'm not used to having that much open space. And
water soothes me. I can stare at the ocean for hours. Scotland
6: best coffee table book?
Not sure if it would be considered a coffee table book, but I love The Art of Patrick Nagel. I've lost count of how many times I've looked through the book.
7: what's your favorite way to spend lazy Sundays?
Watching TV with the hubby, chilling out on the couch.
8: where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
Still shots. An image that flashes by – whether in a commercial, magazine, a billboard, or movie trailer. It's not the scene that plays out, but a single frame that causes me to stop.
Rapid Fire Q's
Blue – except when it comes to food.
No thank you. LOL
Beauty and the Beast. Yes, the cartoon :)
Book Boy Friend?
Too many to list.
Place to visit?
Abs or buns (lol)?
I like the concept of this series most of all.
I think Julian is a strong character and compliments Matt well.
I thought Julian was going to be this big ole smarty pants, and Matt this rich prick.
BOY did they fool me, thank goodness!! I don't think I could have handled Matt if he were truly that much of an asshat.
|The construction can wait for Julian & Matt <3|
As for Matt's mother, there are only a few times i truly wanted to throw my kindle, and she was one of those reasons. She is in my top 5 of people to hate. Although, I think sometimes we need a good villain in a story just for that extra layer of emotion and i think Jamie NAILED it!
I adore Julian, and i hope we get more of his past in the next book. I also cant wait to meet their first resident!!
I adore Julian, and i hope we get more of his past in the next book. I also cant wait to meet their first resident!!
***Was given this book for my honest opinion***
This book really makes you think about what other people face when they have served their time in prison.
This is a very real written story with 2 very secretive and complex characters. Loved Julian’s way of making Matt lose his control and the ability to make him blush.
It‘s about setting goals and proving to yourself that you can achieve those goals no matter what the obstacles.
“Are you always like this?" Matt asked.
“It's the heat. Brings out my charm.”
***Copy received from author in exchange of honest review***
I liked it. I really liked it. I liked the story, how it flowed, how it wasn't insta-love but the chemistry between Julian and Matt was wowza and how the characters evolved, throughout the one-year the story spans.
They were funny, they were hot and most of all, they were the best when together. Took them a little bit to realize but in the end, they got there. Four and a half stars.
"Mr. Boner looking for handyman."
And yes, Julian mistakenly called Matt Mr. Boner.
Looking forward to reading the next one.