Author Name: Riley Hart
Book Name: Test Drive
Categories: MM Romance
Publisher: Riley Hart
Cover Artist: X-Potion Designs, Photo: Jean-Baptiste HUONG
A double shot of devastating news turns Justin Evanson’s life upside down. When he learns his father has cancer, and he has siblings he never knew existed, he leaves everything behind and moves to Virginia to support his dad as he tries to make amends with his family—a family Justin’s not sure he has a place in. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers his recent hookup is his newfound sister’s brother-in-law.
Drew Sinclair never expected to see Justin after their night at the club or to discover their family connection. If anyone found out, it would give Drew’s brother another reason to hate him. But there’s something about Justin that draws him in, and it’s not only because they burn up the sheets together.
One meeting leads to another, and before Justin realizes it, Drew has become the only thing in his world he feels is his. And for the first time in his life, Drew knows what it means to be needed. Being there for Justin and supporting him when things spiral out of control feels right. But with so much happening so quickly, it’s hard to trust their feelings. Is this thing between them real? Or just a test drive before life forces them down two separate roads?
Justin made his way toward his… brother and Landon gave him a quick nod.
“Is this as weird for you as it is for me?” Landon asked.
Justin exhaled. “Yes. Christ. I didn’t expect it to be.” Which didn’t make sense. Of course it would be strange. They were a mismatched family, celebrating his father’s birthday when the man looked like he would pass out at any second.
“What? How could you not expect this to be uncomfortable? Hell, I’m just Landon’s boyfriend and it’s even awkward for me,” Rod said, and Justin glanced up to see Landon lovingly roll his eyes, before he wrapped an arm around Rod’s shoulders and pulled him close. Rod was smaller than Landon. He wore black eyeliner that made his eyes stand out.
“Please, don’t hold back for us,” Landon replied.
“I wouldn’t think of it,” was Rod’s response, but Justin thought he knew what Rod was doing. He wanted to make Landon laugh, wanted to take the edge off, and he found himself grateful that Landon hadn’t let the fact that Rod found out about Justin and his dad before Landon did come between them. They were a strong couple. You could see the love between them.
The three of them chatted for a few minutes before Rod excused himself for the restroom.
“I should probably go talk to him.” Landon crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. There was no doubt in Justin’s mind whom he was speaking about.
“I know he’d like that. I get that it’s hard, though.”
Landon turned his way. “What do I say? Jesus, it’s really shitty that I don’t know how to talk to my own dad.”
Anger burned through Justin’s insides. He was angry at their dad for putting them all in this situation. How hard would it have been to tell Justin and his mom about Shanen and Landon? To be a father to them, too? He bit back the anger and said, “Hi. Happy Birthday. Anything will do.”
Landon didn’t move, though. He eyed their father on the other side of the room. Justin followed his stare, which is how he saw the man walk in. But not just any man. Drew. The guy he met in a club the night Shanen got married. His brows pulled together. What in the hell was he doing here? Because this wasn’t awkward enough without the guy he wanted to fuck obviously knowing Shanen. “Ah, hell. I think I jerked off in a club with the guy who just walked in.”
“What?” Landon’s voice actually cracked on the word. He looked from Justin, to Drew, and back to Justin again. His gut sank, and he was pretty sure he should have kept his mouth shut because this was about to get a whole lot worse. “That’s Shanen’s brother-in-law. He’s Jacob’s brother, and I’m pretty sure Shanen would have told me if he wasn’t straight. I know he’s not close with Jacob, but she would have thought it was coincidence enough if she married a man with a gay or bisexual brother.”
Oh fuck. Damn it all to hell.
Justin tried to hide his shock. He looked at Drew again, studied him—the scruff on his face, that jaw and those fucking lips—of course it was really who he thought it was. Still, he said the first lie that popped into his head. “Shit. That’s not him. Hair’s not right and I’d remember that mouth anywhere.” Which was true. It was the first thing he’d noticed.
Wasn’t this just perfect? He’d come here to get to know his family, and out of all the men in Virginia, he’d somehow ended up jacking off with his sister’s husband’s brother, who was obviously in the closet.
The brother of the year award definitely wasn’t going to him.
Landon eyed him, skepticism in his eyes. Before he could say anything, Rod stepped back up and wrapped his arms around Landon.
“What did I miss?”
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I’m going to start with a warning: Do not read this on a plane! I laughed, sniffled, and outright cried from Orlando to Long Island, and got more than one sideways glance. Totally worth it 🙂 Second warning: If you haven’t read Shifting Gears, you definitely should as this book continues an arc started there.
In Shifting Gears, we find out that Landon’s father left them for another family. Another son. And now he’s back because he’s dying and wants to reconnect, make amends, blah blah, I honestly hated him in book 2 and that didn’t change in book 3. What he did to his kids was unforgivable and I wouldn’t have been forgiving. But, I digress. In that book, we are introduced to Justin, the half-brother Larry-the-louse left Landon & his sister to raise, who is trying to care for his dying father while being hit with the truth of his lies. I just knew when Riley wrote his book, it was going to kill me.
How do you reconcile the fact that the man who seemed so loving and supportive you’re whole life, was actually a world-class bastard who abandoned two children and a wife? That he not only abandoned them, he kept you from knowing your own brother and sister? That he never actually loved your mother? Justin was trying his damnedest to care for this dying man and had zero room to reconcile his feelings and fears.
For whatever reason, Landon’s mom has decided to care for Larry in his last days. Justin is torn by their desire to help because he’s afraid of being pushed away, but he takes a well deserved night off, hits up a bar and crosses paths with Drew. Their first encounter is explosive, but then Drew disappears. Their second encounter is all kinds of awkward when they realize Drew’s brother is married to Landon’s newly-found half-sister. Their third encounter, a prearranged meeting, is all sorts of laugh-out-loud funny. Drew doesn’t necessarily consider himself gay so much as he’s trying to figure things out, isn’t afraid of perceptions or much of anything, really, and sees beneath all of Justin’s jokes to the sad man beneath.
Everything after that is a roller coaster ride of Justin and Drew falling in love while firmly believe their time together is temporary. After all, once Larry dies, Justin will go back home where he owns a house and has started on a path to a career that he’s put on hold. Drew is firmly established as well, with a house and a business, so there doesn’t seem to be a lot of give on either side. In the midst of that, Justin is just trying to deal with his father’s illness, the reality that he’s dying, and wondering where he fits in with his siblings, or if he even does. Drew is determined to be there for Justin however he needs him to be. As a friend, a lover, a support system, without putting any pressure on him regarding the future.
I was trying to pinpoint a favorite scene, but it’s impossible. I loved watching Justin and Drew fall in love, seeing the siblings learning to be a family, seeing Drew and his brother reconcile, meeting Justin’s mom, etc. In the end, I was sad for everything this family went through, but I never felt for the father. In fact, every time Justin hurt or doubted his place or stepped/was nudged aside, I only hated the father more.
Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.
She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine, while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.
Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.
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