When up-and-coming Miami painter Martin Fonseca encounters youthful pretty boy Andre Bellamy washing dishes in the kitchen of La Candela, he swears he’s known him before, intimately. But Andre only arrived in Miami weeks ago, after running away from small-town Alabama and his abusive father. When Martin discovers Andre trading sexual favors for a place to stay, he offers him a room in his studio apartment. As roommates only.
What starts as a playful friendship turns into something more as Andre begins posing for Martin, whose true passion is painting fantastical portraits. Martin’s obsession with Andre grows until they are sharing more than just flirtatious conversation. But when an eccentric art collector buys one of Martin’s paintings, Martin’s past jealousies resurface and threaten to destroy what he and Andre have so lovingly built.
When Andre starts working as a dishwasher Martin is drawn to him, unable to put the handsome young man out of his mind. Andre left a bad situation in Alabama and is slow to open up to Martin. Can the two men work things out?
I found this to be a really interesting, complicated erotic romance. I really enjoyed how Martin and Andre took the time to get to know each other, and the slower pace made their friendship and eventual relationship felt far more realistic to me than the quicker “meet and fall into bed” style erotic romances that are out in the market lately. I enjoyed the complexity of both Andre and Martin’s characters. There’s a small supporting cast and toward the end a big twist in the plot. While this twist takes quite a leap of faith (and has a very slight paranormal-ish bend to it) I found it extremely interesting – keeping my attention firmly embedded in Andre and Martin’s story.
While initially there is only a small hint of underlying sadness, I couldn’t help but feel as the story progresses that what started out as a lovely, almost romantic M/M romance became quite a lot darker. Martin and Andre have a somewhat rocky relationship and especially toward the end I felt the cracks in their romance are really starting to show. I found it impossible for most of the story to work out whether Andre or Martin was in the wrong – or indeed if either of them were – as the story really is quite complex. The two men have what I feel are real problems – Andre has been abused and in some ways is very young and naïve, Martin is temperamental and I felt he had difficulty communicating his true worries and feelings to Andre clearly. Far from a criticism, I felt these flaws really made Andre and Martin both appear far more realistic and understandable to me.
Readers who like plot-twists and unusual storylines shouldn’t be disappointed in this story. I feel that readers looking for a light, happy, fluffy read probably won’t find this a suitable story as it is quite complicated and especially toward the end I found it a little dark. With a happy ending, interesting and multi-layered characters and a whole bunch of twisty plot, this is a good story that I feel should appeal to many readers.