The Evolution Of Love by Philip William Stover

The Evolution Of Love by Philip William Stover
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (109 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When a charming but misguided account manager gets stuck on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands with his hunky zoologist ex, he might rediscover his true passion—in and out of the bedroom.

After art school, Mike Davis gave up on his dream in favor of a stable job. But when he gets an opportunity to teach wealthy travelers how to paint stunning sunsets, it seems like the perfect break. Until he finds out he’ll be sharing a suite with his ex, charismatic Benton Aldridge—a British scientist cuter than the baby animals he studies. Mike makes it clear he has no intention of getting back together with Benton, but sharing a suite makes it almost impossible keep his distance.
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As they climb over volcanic peaks and swim with manatees through sparkling jade-colored water, can they also heal past wounds and take the next step in the evolution of love?

Mike has always dreamed of going to the Galapagos Islands, particularly to see a specific bird found there that as a child he was enchanted by. Still recovering from a painful break-up, Mike is determined to try and move on with his life. But Benton, Mike’s ex-boyfriend, is also on the cruise and neither man has really got over the other.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted story. Told from Mike’s perspective in the first person I got a good feel for his character quite early on and found Mike to be relatable and interesting. He has a few quirks and overall I found it easy to like him and get invested in his story. The only real problem I have with the first person perspective is it often then takes me longer to get attached to other characters – in this example, Benton. Seeing Benton only through Mike’s eyes and Mike’s baggage still remaining from their split made it difficult for me to get a good feel for Benton’s character and work out for myself whether I felt sympathy for his character or whether Mike’s bias coloured my perspective. I have to give the author kudos because even while Benton and Mike weren’t getting along at the beginning of the story there was enough lightness between their interactions and distance from the actual break-up itself I could see this conflict would likely be resolved happily between the two men, but at the same time it felt like a lot of additional drama and potential sources of problems later on should things not work out well.

I did like how the author managed to balance between light-heartedness – like Benton and Mike being forced to share a room on the cruise ship – and the more serious issues and unresolved problems from their ill-fated relationship. This helped give some conflict and tension to the story and while I felt the tension between the men carried on a little longer into the story than I’d have ideally liked, it really did add some good depth to the overall plot, I felt.

Readers who enjoy complicated and multi-layered romances should find this suits many of their needs. I liked the setting of the cruise ship and found much of the story relatable and realistic. I found the chemistry between Benton and Mike grew at a good pace and really sizzled between them. While I wasn’t initially positive they really were a well-matched couple, learning Benton’s character better and, eventually, really understanding the chemistry between the two men helped sell me on the feasibility and longevity of their relationship.

A fun and entertaining cruise-ship romance story, this was a great read I really enjoyed.

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