Between the Lines (New Milton #2)
Theo Wishart has given up on finding love. Luca Moretti doesn’t want to find it. A handful of summer days may change their lives forever—if they’re brave enough to look between the lines. Eyes might be windows to the soul, but for Theo Wishart they’re all shuttered. His dyspraxia makes it hard to read people. He doesn’t do relationships and he certainly doesn’t do the great outdoors. Two weeks spent “embracing beach life” while he tries to close the deal on a once great, now fading seaside hotel is a special kind of hell. Until Luca. Gorgeous, unreachable Luca. Luca Moretti travels light, avoiding all romantic entanglements. Estranged from his parents, he vows this will be his last trip home to New Milton. His family’s hotel is on the verge of ruin and there’s nothing Luca can do to save it. He’s given up on the Majestic, he’s given up on his family and he’s given up on his future. Until Theo. Prickly, captivating Theo. No mushy feelings, no expectations, and no drama—that’s the deal. A simple summer fling. And it suits them both just fine. But as the summer wanes and their feelings deepen, it’s clear to everyone around them that Theo and Luca are falling in love. What will it take for them to admit it to themselves—and to each other? This book is approximately 73,000 words One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Between the Lines (New Milton #2) Details

TitleBetween the Lines (New Milton #2)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseDec 10th, 2018
PublisherCarina Press
Rating
GenreRomance, M M Romance, Contemporary, Lgbt

Between the Lines (New Milton #2) Review

  • Judith
    January 1, 1970
    Another enjoyable story by Sally Malcolm with engaging characters in a quaint small town setting.If you've read Perfect Day by this Author you'll be familiar with the town and some of the characters.Luca Moretti is a bit of a free spirit,not one to be tied down to any place or anyone.He's back in his home town after five years to try and persuade his mother not to sell the place he used to call home....the ageing Majestic Hotel.His mother,Jude,feels she doesn't have much option other than sellin Another enjoyable story by Sally Malcolm with engaging characters in a quaint small town setting.If you've read Perfect Day by this Author you'll be familiar with the town and some of the characters.Luca Moretti is a bit of a free spirit,not one to be tied down to any place or anyone.He's back in his home town after five years to try and persuade his mother not to sell the place he used to call home....the ageing Majestic Hotel.His mother,Jude,feels she doesn't have much option other than selling to a large investment company.The hotel needs time and money spent on it...something she's unable to give.Luca arrives in town full of hostility which is directed at Jude's husband who made his views on Luca's sexuality very clear years ago and this is the first time Luca has returned in years.Theo Wishart is the man given the job of persuading Jude to sell the beautiful old hotel but it's not going to be an easy transaction.Jude offers Theo a life line in negotiations....stay at the hotel for two weeks and feel the beauty of it and the town.Theo and Luca don't get off to the best start but their attraction for each other soon becomes apparent.And yes,it was insta lust/love but this is one of those books that just worked for me.Their feelings moved fast but I found it believable and they are pretty cute together.Theo has dyspraxia,he can't read people well and his last 'relationship' with a man didn't end well.He's adorably awkward and has no idea how to relax and embrace his experience in New Milton.There are some lovely moments between them....Luca teaching Theo to body board,beach top walks holding hands,slow dancing at a wedding.Can Theo dare to hope Luca might be the one and will Luca be prepared to give up his wanderlust and settle down?And will the hotel be rescued?Recommended read.Review copy provided by the publisher,via NetGalley.
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  • ☆ Todd
    January 1, 1970
    Strike another one in the *WIN* column for Sally Malcolm. After really enjoying "Perfect Day", I had high hopes for this story and wasn't disappointed. Theo was a bit of a persnickety oddball right from the start, but I immediately loved him, though, I think his overall strangeness could've been pumped up a few notches. And his dyspraxia was rarely even touched upon in the story, actually. But Luca was the MC that I connected most closely with in the book, though. Yes, he could be a bit of a sta Strike another one in the *WIN* column for Sally Malcolm. After really enjoying "Perfect Day", I had high hopes for this story and wasn't disappointed. Theo was a bit of a persnickety oddball right from the start, but I immediately loved him, though, I think his overall strangeness could've been pumped up a few notches. And his dyspraxia was rarely even touched upon in the story, actually. But Luca was the MC that I connected most closely with in the book, though. Yes, he could be a bit of a standoffish, broody prick at times, but right from the get go, you could see that he had a heart of gold and a lightness about him that drew others into his orbit. Luca was a bit like Finn from "Perfect Day", now that I think about it. The guys for sure didn't start out on the right footing with one another, but I loved seeing them spend time together and get to know one another better, until they finally gave in to the immediate attraction that they'd both felt. The book had a few angsty, dramatic moments, but I felt that it never crossed the line into unrealistic territory. Both MC's had their issues, which they worked through. Slowly. And sometimes painfully. But they did the work, especially Theo, and came out the other side better off for confronting their fears. “Hey, you okay?” He wasn’t really. The song, and his startling revelation, had left him feeling raw and unbalanced. Rash.Which was probably why he said, “I wish I could have that, you know? That kind of love.” With you. In regards to steam, there was some, but not so much as to feel gratuitous. For me, the frequency of the sexy times hit the Goldilocks zone pretty dead-on. The resolution for the problem with the sale of the hotel, Luca's childhood home and family legacy, went almost exactly as I'd predicted, although I didn't care. Not one bit.But guys, JOSH & FINN'S WEDDING!!! Christ, I normally *loathe* Big Gay Wedding plots in stories, but this one was seriously amazing and heart-felt.Pro Tip: When they mention the title and artist of "The Song" in the book, stop and watch the YouTube video and really *listen* to the lyrics, then continue reading. All the feels, people! ALL of them. Purrrr-fection.Aaaaand that's probably the first and last time you'll ever hear me gushing about a storybook wedding, but this one was extremely non-Disney'esque, so some major points there. ;- ) This second book in the New Milton universe was not based upon a Jane Austen book, so we blessedly weren't forced to endure the repeated "chase and run away" scenario seen in "Perfect Day". Praise the Lawd!The book worked perfectly fine as a standalone, with very little exposure to the characters from the first book -- except for the very touching wedding scene, which was a huge highlight of this story for me.In regards to pacing and length, there were a few times when events were a bit slow, and the story felt a bit long, but I never got bored and lost interest. I simply wanted to get to the next bit of excitement.I'd rate this book at around 4.25 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys "some" drama and steam, but not an overabundance.-----------------------------------------------My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.See All My Latest Reads (Review Quick-Links)-----------------------------------------------
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  • ~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
    January 1, 1970
    ~4.5~With this book, Sally Malcolm has proven that she can hold her own in the M/M romance arena. She's clearly an accomplished writer and has a flair for language. Between the Lines is set in the same world as Perfect Day. We're even invited to Joshua and Finn's wedding! However, this book, which is not based on an Austen novel, can be read as a standalone. Theo arrives in New Milton ready to prove himself to his successful hotelier father. The Majestic is a grand hotel owned by the Moretti fam ~4.5~With this book, Sally Malcolm has proven that she can hold her own in the M/M romance arena. She's clearly an accomplished writer and has a flair for language. Between the Lines is set in the same world as Perfect Day. We're even invited to Joshua and Finn's wedding! However, this book, which is not based on an Austen novel, can be read as a standalone. Theo arrives in New Milton ready to prove himself to his successful hotelier father. The Majestic is a grand hotel owned by the Moretti family, but it's seen better days. The elevator is broken; the rooms are empty; and Jude Moretti and her husband, Don, are barely making ends meet. Theo is determined to buy the Majestic and turn it into a golf resort for the wealthy. He's just not prepared for the force that is Luca Moretti. Luca is back home for the summer. Resentful of Don (his stepfather), angry with Jude for even considering selling their family legacy, Luca has no time for uptight guys with snooty British accents. Luca is like a wounded animal, quick to lash out in rage, licking his hurts in secret.Luca and Theo meet by running into each other. Literally. Hot coffee is involved. The next time they meet they're both wearing a suit and negotiating the sale of the Majestic. Jude begs Theo to get to know the hotel and the town; she's not ready to make a decision regarding the sale. So Theo spends time in New Milton, and he and Luca develop a tentative friendship that turns into a summer fling. Think walks on the beach, bodybording lessons, and intimate conversations. The enemies-to-lovers theme is really well done. Luca, especially, blows hot and cold, and isn't willing to share himself with Theo. Even though Theo initially comes across as arrogant, nothing could be further from the truth. Theo has a disability that affects his coordination and time awareness. He's always been clumsy and terrible at sports. I love stories with imperfect MCs, and I fell for Theo almost immediately. Brash, charming Luca was harder to like. I hated the way he treated Theo, but Luca's behavior didn't ruin the story for me. Luca, Jude, and Don are flawed characters. Luca's beef with Don wasn't unfounded, far from it. Don tried, but he didn't try enough. I wanted to hate Don, but I couldn't. It was obvious how much he worried about Jude's health and wanted the best for her.That was one of my favorite things about this story: how nuanced the characters were, how they were motivated by their fears, and how Luca had to forgive, not just for his mom's sake but for his own. The ending is inspirational and heartwarming. It speaks to following your dreams, even when you're scared, even if rejection is a real possibility. The epilogue made me super happy. This story has a wonderful HEA!My one complaint, besides the lack of communication between the men (which was sooo frustrating!), is that the steam level was quite low. It's not a deal-breaker by any means; the slow burn was subtle and sexy. But I wanted more passion, damn it!I certainly hope this isn't the last story set in New Milton.
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  • Optimist ♰King's Wench♰ & MANTIES Champion
    January 1, 1970
    ✚✚✚4.5✚✚✚It happened again. Except this time my face leaked a lil. Seriously, who and where in the hell did this Sally Malcolm person come from? She's gone 3 for 3!It's her penchant for the enemies to lovers trope and the masterful way she builds tension that appeals but the way she wields words to craft characters and create the atmosphere of this sleepy little Long Island town that hits my feels with laser-like precision every time that's landed her on my auto-author list with lightening speed ✚✚✚4.5✚✚✚It happened again. Except this time my face leaked a lil. Seriously, who and where in the hell did this Sally Malcolm person come from? She's gone 3 for 3!It's her penchant for the enemies to lovers trope and the masterful way she builds tension that appeals but the way she wields words to craft characters and create the atmosphere of this sleepy little Long Island town that hits my feels with laser-like precision every time that's landed her on my auto-author list with lightening speed.This time we have Luca and Theo. Luca is kind of a beach bum who bounces around the country with his surfboard never far away. He's the ultimate rolling stone. On the surface. Underneath that feckless exterior lies hidden depths and a broken heart.Theo is driven, no nonsense and comes across a bit sanctimonious. He's posh and buttoned-up. But underneath lies the heart of a romantic.I liked both of them but I really loved Theo for too many reasons to count.Their journey from enemies to lovers is one I'll not soon forget and will likely have to reread for the comfort of not just Theo and Luca but New Milton. New Milton is hard to resist. The town is charming and I love catching up with its inhabitants. I can't wait to see who'll be next to fall in love in this series and get on the Sally Malcolm Express to Feelstown again. Speaking of, you could technically read this one as a stand alone but I'd recommend at least reading Perfect Day beforehand as Finn and Josh have a fairly significant role here.Recommend to readers who enjoy enemies to loves, loads of tension, don't mind a little miscommunication and maybe are a card carrying member of the Squishy Marshmallow Club.
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  • Ele
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5 stars*I had a hard time rating this one. I struggled a lot because, although I really enjoyed the story, my complaints were too many for me to round up. In any case, Between the Lines proves that Sally Malcolm is a new a force to be reckoned with in MM, and an author I'm definitely interested in.The writing is absolutely beautiful. I like the dialogue but I love the prose. Not flowery but not too sharp either, just very evocative. Perfect for this type of slow burning, sweet romance. I usu *3.5 stars*I had a hard time rating this one. I struggled a lot because, although I really enjoyed the story, my complaints were too many for me to round up. In any case, Between the Lines proves that Sally Malcolm is a new a force to be reckoned with in MM, and an author I'm definitely interested in.The writing is absolutely beautiful. I like the dialogue but I love the prose. Not flowery but not too sharp either, just very evocative. Perfect for this type of slow burning, sweet romance. I usually get so bored with inner monologues but the words just flowed here.I have all the love for Theo. What a sweet, kind-hearted and caring person. Because of his dyspraxia, Theo struggles with a lot of everyday stuff. This makes it very hard to connect and read other people. Luca was harder to like but I loved how protective and sweet he was to Theo.The epilogue was perfect and necessary to the story. Extra points for Josh and Finn's cameo appearance. So, what didn't work?For starters, this felt a little bit insta-lovey. I mean it had only been nine days before the "I love you's" came. For me it's just too little time for all these feelings to develop and for Theo to make his grand gesture. The epilogue, though, made it a little better.Speaking of which... I felt that Luca should have been the one to reach out and even grovel. He was awful to Theo but he did nothing to make things right, not even after he learnt the truth about the way things happened.Another thing that frustrated me was the amount of miscommunication between the characters. The "fight" in the end could have been avoided in my opinion, if only the characters had been willing to talk instead of interrupting each other and jumping to conclusions.Last but not least, Jude. I rarely base my rating and review on how secondary characters behave but this was important to the story. So MANY hurt feelings between Luca and his mother. Nothing was resolved in my opinion. They didn't really talk about the core of the problem, Jude just defended her love for Don and Luca just forgave her. And as much as I love flawed characters, I draw the line at mothers who put their homophobic husbands above their kids. I know I'm kinda opinionated about this but it's just how I am.I realize I sound like I have a lot of niggles, but I still recommend this book to all MM readers and I sure hope there are more books to come in this universe.
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  • Zuzu
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThis story was about 2 guys - 1 who never thought he'd have an HEA and the other who thought he didn't need one.I liked this book but didn't love it because I felt like there were some unresolved issues.Luca didn't ever resolve the issue he had with his mother, Jude, marrying someone who had homophobic tendencies. Luca felt his mother betrayed him when she married Don and I never felt like this issue was resolved between them even though the story tried to make it seem that way.I also w 3.5 starsThis story was about 2 guys - 1 who never thought he'd have an HEA and the other who thought he didn't need one.I liked this book but didn't love it because I felt like there were some unresolved issues.Luca didn't ever resolve the issue he had with his mother, Jude, marrying someone who had homophobic tendencies. Luca felt his mother betrayed him when she married Don and I never felt like this issue was resolved between them even though the story tried to make it seem that way.I also wanted to see Theo stand up to his overbearing father. At the end, when Theo revealed he (view spoiler)[bought the hotel from his father (hide spoiler)], it was just stated as a fact but I felt cheated in not seeing how that all went down. It just seemed too easy when it never seemed like his father would allow that to happen.And while I don't mind instalove, these 2 just didn't spend a lot of time together and I never truly felt their connection. Yet I still enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a straightforward romance with fairly low angst.ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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  • Jassy
    January 1, 1970
    **4.5 stars**Between the Lines is the first book I’ve read by this author and I didn’t know what to expect in terms of writing style but also plotwise. Let me just say… it totally took me by surprise. The writing style is very, very good – fluent and funny. The blurb makes sense in retrospect but when I first read it I didn’t get the right feeling what the actual story is. So I will try to sum it up: Luca has left home because his mother decided to marry a homophobic guy. He should have inherite **4.5 stars**Between the Lines is the first book I’ve read by this author and I didn’t know what to expect in terms of writing style but also plotwise. Let me just say… it totally took me by surprise. The writing style is very, very good – fluent and funny. The blurb makes sense in retrospect but when I first read it I didn’t get the right feeling what the actual story is. So I will try to sum it up: Luca has left home because his mother decided to marry a homophobic guy. He should have inherited the family hotel Majestic but doesn’t want it anymore. It’s anyhow on the verge of ruin. That’s where Theo comes in. His father’s company wants to buy the hotel and turn it into something modern. So in the beginning Theo is basically Luca’s enemy. However, Theo is forced to make a deal to stay two weeks in order to understand the beauty of the hotel better as it is. And he spends a lot of time with Luca during those two weeks and of course they both fall in love (very beautifully…)!The characters are both very well developed: Luca is resentful and scared of loving anyone - perfectly understandable concerning his past. Theo has dyspraxia, meaning his motoric coordination is not that good and he has a hard time reading people. He is a romantic at heart but has given up on ever finding love… until Luca. I loved the Romance (yeah, capital R) in this book. Just a tiny example… Theo cannot dance and is scared of making a fool of himself. At a wedding Luca just dances with him anyhow and that was so emotional for me. Another great thing is that even if there are conflicts – what family doesn’t know conflicts? – there are no outright bad people. Even the homophobic partner of Luca’s mother is not that bad. And that is quite an achievement because some good people have prejudices and it is hard to overcome them. I found that very realistic. All in all, I was very happy about the book and I recommend it to those who want a fluffy and sweet read.**ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
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  • Caz
    January 1, 1970
    Between the Lines is another emotionally satisfying and beautifully crafted romance from the pen of Sally Malcolm, and is a wonderful follow-up to both Perfect Day and Love Around the Corner, both of which are also set in the fictional Long Island resort of New Milton.  This novel is set a few months after the events of Perfect Day (and I loved the glimpses we were afforded of Josh and Finn at their wedding), and is an enemies-to-lovers romance between two men from vastly different backgrounds   Between the Lines is another emotionally satisfying and beautifully crafted romance from the pen of Sally Malcolm, and is a wonderful follow-up to both Perfect Day and Love Around the Corner, both of which are also set in the fictional Long Island resort of New Milton.  This novel is set a few months after the events of Perfect Day (and I loved the glimpses we were afforded of Josh and Finn at their wedding), and is an enemies-to-lovers romance between two men from vastly different backgrounds  who meet when one of them arrives in town to negotiate the purchase of The Majestic, a family-run hotel that has seen better days.Theo Wishart has travelled to New Milton in order to seal the deal over the purchase, and set in motions his father’s plan to develop the hotel and its land into a luxury resort.   He is anxious to prove himself by closing the deal, especially in the light of a particularly embarrassing incident which led to his being accused of sexual harassment by a colleague, and his father’s obvious belief that Theo doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the cut-throat world in which he operates.  Theo’s dyspraxia means that he doesn’t read people well; he gets distracted easily and has had to devise a number of coping mechanisms (such as timing himself in the shower and reminding himself to make eye contact with people) to help him to fit into a world which often views his lack of co-ordination and discomfort in social situations as things that make him someone to deride or pity rather than just someone who is different.Luca Moretti was born in New Milton but left home five years earlier, after his mother remarried and his step-father Don made it clear that he couldn’t accept Luca’s sexuality.  Luca loves his mother and he loves his home, but he only returns for the summers now, to help out at the hotel and to take on some part-time work as a lifeguard and surf instructor.  He’s furious about his mother’s plans to sell the Majestic, and believes that Don is pushing her to sell, his anger blinding him to the fact that Jude Moretti is not quite herself, and that, after a life of hard work, she deserves to have an easier time of it.When Theo arrives for his meeting with Jude and Don, he’s dismayed to discover that the rude guy who collided with him outside the coffee shop earlier is her son – and with the hostility coming off him in waves, it’s clear he’s vehemently opposed to his mother’s plan to sell the hotel.  Josh can also tell that he stands every chance of getting his mother to change her mind.  Jude expresses her concern about Lux Properties’ plans to redevelop the site, suggesting that perhaps she and Luca (mostly Luca) would be more amenable to the sale if the redevelopment was something more in line with the community, and floats the idea that Theo should spend a couple of weeks in New Milton, getting a feel for the place.  Perhaps then, he might come to see what’s so special about The Majestic and its place in the community – and will be able to persuade his father to rethink his development plans.  Theo and Luca agree reluctantly to the idea, neither of them enthused at the prospect of spending two weeks in each other’s company, but each hoping to use the time to persuade the other to their point of view.Sally Malcom does a great job of creating a strong connection between these two very different men; she has a real gift for imbuing her characters with a true depth of personality and for creating strong emotional connections between them.  The frisson of attraction that sparks between Luca and Theo is almost instantaneous, although they both do their best to ignore it, dismissing the idea of acting on it as a terrible one given their situation.  But eventually, they can’t deny it any more and they agree to have a summer fling for the two weeks Theo is there and then go their separate ways with no regrets (hah – good luck with that!). As they start spending time together, Luca comes to understand and appreciate Theo for the kind, loving person he is and Theo learns more about what makes Luca tick, how hurt he was by his mother’s remarriage and her silence when his step-father refused to accept him.  As the two men fall for each other, Theo realises just why Luca is so attached to The Majestic, and starts to wonder if there might be an alternative to the plans his father has proposed, one that would preserve the spirit of the hotel while also allowing Jude and Don the freedom to enjoy their retirement.  We’re treated to some lovely snapshots of Luca and Theo’s time together as their relationship develops, delighted as they take two steps forward and then frustrated as they take one step back, past insecurities and hurts seeming as though they’re destined to keep them apart.  Even so, their relationship grows organically and doesn’t feel rushed or lacking in plausibility.  The romance is full of humour, warmth and affection as well as some beautifully conceived sexual tension which culminates in some nicely steamy moments.  But the elephant in the room is just waiting in the corner, keeping the reader on tenterhooks waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When it does, the impact is visceral - Theo sees it coming yet can do nothing to stop it - and I certainly had a lump in my throat while reading.Luca and Theo are wonderfully rounded characters who have more in common than they’d at first thought.  Both have difficult familial relationships; Luca clearly resents Don’s place in his mother’s life while Theo is well aware that his father views him as a disappointment.  They’re prickly and wary of letting anyone get close, and yet they find a way past each other’s defences to an extent neither had expected was likely or possible. The secondary characters are strongly drawn, too, and I found Jude and Don especially to be true-to-life in the sense that their dilemmas felt real and messy, and their flaws made them seem like real people.  When we learn of Don’s prejudice it’s easy to then believe he’s pushing Jude to sell the hotel and to paint him as the villain of the piece – but the author shows us things aren’t that black and white.  He’s misguided about Luca, for sure, but he loves his wife dearly, and, as we learn later, is motivated primarily by concern for her.  Jude, too, is similarly multi-faceted; she has valid reasons for wanting to sell up but is torn up about it, wanting to preserve something for Luca but also needing to do the right thing for herself.All these facets of the characters and their stories are seamlessly woven together, but the focus is firmly on Luca and Theo and their love story, which is beautifully written and gorgeously romantic; they make a terrific couple and I adored getting to know them, both individually and together.  Between the Lines is highly recommended – it’s a superb read, and I was captivated from start to finish. Sally Malcolm is an incredibly talented writer, and I can’t wait to read whatever she comes up with next.
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  • Fabi
    January 1, 1970
    This book has the most accurate blurb I've ever seen.I'd never heard of dyspraxia prior to this book. It's amazing the things we learn about reading romance novels. As the author herself says, their greatest draw has always been and continues to be, that they show us that happily-ever-afters are for everyone.Us romance readers love to read about characters who overcome obstacles to find their true love. For me, it's never more poignant than when a character struggles with a disability and finds This book has the most accurate blurb I've ever seen.I'd never heard of dyspraxia prior to this book. It's amazing the things we learn about reading romance novels. As the author herself says, their greatest draw has always been and continues to be, that they show us that happily-ever-afters are for everyone.Us romance readers love to read about characters who overcome obstacles to find their true love. For me, it's never more poignant than when a character struggles with a disability and finds the soulmate they deserve.Theo & Luca give us a beautiful story of love and acceptance. Overcoming mistakes and building a future filled with happiness.I thoroughly enjoyed this romance!3.5 stars!Review ARC graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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  • CrabbyPatty
    January 1, 1970
    Theo is sent by his father to purchase the Majestic Hotel in New Milton, which will be torn down to make way for a sleek modern hotel / resort / golf course. Although owner Jude and her husband desperately need to sell, they hope that Theo will get a sense of why the Majestic is so special and invite him to stay there while negotiating the sale. Jude's son Luca (who we met very briefly in "A Perfect Day") is at the Majestic this one last summer as a lifeguard and teaching surfing and boarding. L Theo is sent by his father to purchase the Majestic Hotel in New Milton, which will be torn down to make way for a sleek modern hotel / resort / golf course. Although owner Jude and her husband desperately need to sell, they hope that Theo will get a sense of why the Majestic is so special and invite him to stay there while negotiating the sale. Jude's son Luca (who we met very briefly in "A Perfect Day") is at the Majestic this one last summer as a lifeguard and teaching surfing and boarding. Luca has no permanent home, other than a converted van, and spends his winters working at ski resorts. Theo has dyspraxia which includes poor balance and muscular coordination and issues with judgement, processing and other cognitive skills. People were difficult, that was the problem. They were confusing and he didn't have the knack for connecting with them. He couldn't make himself understood and he couldn't understand them in return. Sometimes he imagined a glass wall stood between himself and other people - he could see them well enough, he just couldn't break through. Or as Theo later tells Luca: "You ever hear the expression 'the eyes are the window to the soul?' Well, to me, all the blinds are down. I can't read people. It's a dyspraxic thing." The two men eventually decide to indulge their sexual attraction with a short summer fling, and Luca agrees to always tell Theo the truth, but Feelings change everything. Malcolm does a wonderful job of showing us that growing love combined with the realization they will each go their separate ways soon, and yet each man wonders if this could become something more. I like the pace of this story, as the romance grows and develops and we learn more about Theo and Luca, and the Majestic hotel works its magic and makes Theo think that perhaps one day it could play an important role in their future. My only niggle with "Between the Lines" is Luca's massive angst-filled miscommunication with Theo and basically becoming an asshat in the later part of the book until he comes to his senses. It feels out of character and just too much given their gentle dynamic. Also Luca's stepfather has made some homophobic comments in the past and while it's hard to imagine Luca's mother in effect choosing him over her son, I like how Malcolm offers the start of an unthawing and understanding between Luca and his stepfather. It's not perfect, but it's a work in progress. It took me a while to really get into this story (unlike "A Perfect Day" which captured my heart right away), but as we get to know Theo's beautiful spirit and his hope and dreams for a loving relationship, family and home and how Luca finds himself on the cusp of getting something he never fully realized he wanted, I was completed hooked. AND the ending and epilogue a year later is absolutely perfect! Bonus: we also get a loving update on Finn and Josh and their swoon worthy wedding. 4.5 stars for "Between the Lines."I received an ARC from Carina Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.Review posted at Gay Book Reviews - check it out!
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