Highballer, by Ava Hayden
Series: World of Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 25, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
What happens when the man is as tempting as the money?
Remy Delacour’s family doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine, and when Remy’s boyfriend reveals that Remy is majoring in nursing, they cut him off. He has to find money to finish his education—fast. And he is so done with boyfriends.
Levi Aronson met the guy of his dreams and followed him to Australia. He knew the chances for a lasting romance were slim—and boy, was he right. Now he’s back in Canada, a year behind in his university program, and short of funds. He needs money, not another man.
Tree planting is a way to make a lot of money fast, but it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. When Levi, an experienced planter, sees pretty, sloe-eyed Remy, Levi is certain he’ll never last.
They’ll have to pry Remy’s shovel from his cold, stiff fingers, because he won’t quit—or let anything take his eyes off the prize. When a storm brings Remy and Levi together, each finds the other a distraction from the big goal. But can anything develop between two men who have sworn off relationships?
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Friends to Lovers
Content Warning for: Some homophobia (homophobic father).
This review contains mild spoilers.
This book is part of the World of Love series which is described as “Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.” This book featured Alberta, Canada as its setting and it is a featured part of the story. Tree planting is a “popular” summer job to get in Canada (as in a lot of people do it to make money not because they love it) and Hayden used it to show the reader how beautiful Alberta’s wilderness is. Although the forests were the main location featured, Hayden also showed Edmonton (bigger city), and Eden Pax (small town) to give readers a good slice of what Alberta is like.
The characters ended up getting fleshed out a lot more than I expected, especially the secondary characters. Remy was my absolute favorite in the book. He’s apparently super gorgeous but he’s a really sweet guy who wants to be a nurse to help people. However, he also has a spine when it comes to his boundaries and I really liked that he didn’t turn into a doormat. When Levi won’t give him what he needs then Remy puts his foot down and it made me like him even more. He wants to be a nurse even though his parents disowned him for it. Instead of going the easy route he goes for a hard summer job to pay off his upcoming student fees. He’s the quiet type but he’s really competent and determined.
I don’t hate Levi, but he really had to work to make me like him. He had a father who was incredibly homophobic and emphasized being a man/not being weak so we can really see why Levi holds himself back with Remy. It also makes sense because Levi got emotionally burned before but given how much I LOVE Remy it made me like Levi less until he stepped up. Levi didn’t handle his emotional baggage very well but he wasn’t really purposefully being abusive to Remy. He was trying to hide their relationship and Remy didn’t want that. Hayden did a good job of showing Levi change throughout the book and although Levi is kind of impulsive with his decisions at the end of the book we can see why he did what he did. It makes sense.
Neither one of them want to get involved with anyone, so for a good chunk of the book, we get deliciously built up sexual tension and them getting to know each other better. I love slow burn romances because you get to see them get to know each other before they get into a relationship/sleep together and it helps to show why they are a good couple. It also helps them get over some of their baggage before the book turns into an angst-fest. Sometimes angst is good but with a short novella, it would eat a lot of the book (in my opinion!).
Overall I really loved this book. It was novella length but had a complete story that didn’t feel rushed or like anything was missing from the story. I wanted more of the story or another book about these characters but that’s because I didn’t want it to end. The writing and pacing were good and I think that Hayden did a good job giving the characters enough depth to get to know them in such a short amount of time. There also wasn’t a lot of drama but there was some believable conflict that added depth to the story.
Ava Hayden lives and writes in Alberta, Canada. When not writing, she loves reading yaoi manga and gay romance, baking, seeing plays, hearing live music, and hiking (even though she once came face to face with two grizzlies on a trail). Most of the time her life isn’t that exciting, and that’s fine by her.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.