Title: Love in the Clouds
Author: Sarah Hadley Brook
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 178 Pages
At a Glance: Sarah Hadley Brook almost had me, but I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed in this one.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Rafael Patino has a great life in Rain Valley. He’s a teacher at the high school, has a great group of friends, and enjoys the occasional baseball game. Other than the sporadic call from his drunken mother, he’s pretty content.
He’s also been in love with his best friend Dustin for nearly a decade. Years of keeping those feelings under control are put to the test when they begin a summer project together.
Dustin Vance builds furniture for a living, has just earned his pilot’s license, and has an amazing best friend. When he buys a 1976 Cessna Skyhawk, he asks Rafael to help restore it, then travel with him to Wisconsin for the largest aviation convention in the world.
As they spend their days working on the plane, they begin to spend their nights together. Will they find love in the clouds, or will they stall out before they even take off?
Review: The blurb had me at “He’s also been in love with his best friend Dustin for nearly a decade.” And, Sarah Hadley Brook almost had me with Rafael and Dustin in last month’s release, Love in the Clouds. I was totally here for it in the beginning. I adoooooore the friends-to-lovers trope, and the story started off on a good foot, showcasing Rafael’s and Dustin’s friendship, and setting the stage. Unfortunately, though, things started to fall flat fairly quickly for me.
We first meet Rafael in the classroom, and I was immediately on board with his character. Mr. Patino, as he’s known to his class, is a good teacher who cares about his students. He’s also a fantastic friend and a good son, even though he lets his alcoholic mother take clear advantage of him. At the start of the book, Rafael learns that his best friend, Dustin, passed his test to get his pilot’s license and purchased his own Cessna Skyhawk, both lifelong dreams of his. Rafael is incredibly proud of his friend and decides to throw him a surprise party at their group’s local hangout. Rafael and Dusty (Raf’s nickname for him) are very sweet together, and during the party, Rafael’s buddy razzes him about the fact that everyone views he and Dusty like an old married couple. We learn that Raf has feelings for Dusty, and has had for quite a while, but doesn’t think those feelings would be reciprocated, so doesn’t want Dustin to find out.
I also really liked Dusty. He was super confident in both his profession and his passion—woodworking and flying, respectively—but, when it came to his relationships, not as much. We find out his ex cheated on him, which really threw him for a loop, and, as the story progresses, he becomes increasingly worried about losing Rafael’s friendship after things turn romantic between them. The dichotomy between self-assured Dustin and nervous Dustin had me scratching my head a few times. When it came to all things aviation, though, there was no question that he one hundred percent knew his stuff, and that confidence was one of the things Raf found so sexy about Dustin.
So, the stage is set…the friendship established, the attraction revealed, the declarations made…but, sadly, this is where Brook lost me. The second half of the book was made up almost entirely of sex scenes and filler. I enjoyed a couple of the scenes of them working on Dustin’s plane together, and there were a few nice moments between them. But, honestly, the story felt like it could have almost wrapped up by the halfway point. I thought it was cool that Dusty was a pilot, and their trip to Oshkosh was such a fun idea, but there was way too much detailed information, especially during the flight scenes. I liked the guys together and thought they had pretty good chemistry, but there was A. LOT. of sex. Perhaps too much for some people. And, there were a few little side plots or moments that got a little bit of momentum but never really went anywhere.
I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed in this one. It’s a bummer when something you hoped would be great doesn’t quite pan out for you. But, such is life. I’m giving another one by this author a try in just a few days; she has a novella coming out in the States of Love series, which I have largely enjoyed, so hopefully I’ll have better luck with that one!
You can buy Love in the Clouds here:
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