Always Another Side by Annabelle Jacobs
Starting over at forty is hard work for landscape architect Jack Bowman. His long-term partner hurt him badly. With his self-esteem dented by the break up, trusting a new lover is going to take time.
Tyler Freeman is equally unlucky when it comes to love. Now that he’s over thirty-five, he’s tired of getting played. All he wants is someone special. How hard can it be to meet a man who’s honest, with no hidden surprises?
Being set up on a blind date might be a classic cliché, but it’s a stroke of good luck for Jack and Tyler. They have a lot in common, including previous relationships steeped in deceit, but it’s worth navigating their trust issues if it means laying those ghosts to rest.
Making it work finally seems possible—until an accidental discovery threatens their newfound happiness.
This was a re-read; I read it the first time in 2016 when it was new, and I’ve read it several times since then. It’s on my feel good re-reads list on Goodreads and I absolutely love it.
The MCs, Jack and Tyler, meet on a blind date neither of them want to go on, but they connect instantly. They both come with bagage; Jack’s partner of 16 years cheated on him 8 months ago and Jack is understandably angry about it. Tyler has wanted a partner for a long time but only found temporary ones, the last one of the bunch had a boyfriend and Tyler was just his side piece (something Tyler didn’t know at the time).
They’re both wounded. And the blind date ends with them blurting out the truth about how they feel, how broken they are, to each other. Jack in particular isn’t sure if he’s ready for a relationship. They both are surprised at the honesty considering it’s the first time they meet, but that’s the way their relationship goes from then on out: they talk to each other. And that’s the reason I love this book so much.
Jack and Tyler feel an instant connection to each other, but don’t know if their pasts will stand in the way of a relationship. They both have doubts and fears, and are in their heads a lot, but instead of mulling shit over by themselves and jumping to the wrong conclusions, they communicate. They share their fears and feelings with each other. You know, like two real people would.
And when it’s time for the big conflict of the story – and it is big – it could so easily have escalated into The Mother of All Misunderstandings. But it didn’t. Yes, they both were hurt after the revelation, but during the entire thing, they keep talking to each other, trying to understand the other person’s point of view. No one listens to half a conversation and storms out. No one jumps to conclusions and refuses to talk about it. They act like rational human beings.
And if you know me by now, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know this is right up my alley. My biggest pet peeve is The Big Misunderstanding, and this book is the complete opposite of that.
Always Another Side isn’t a book full of grand love gestures or dramatic I love yous. It’s quiet, full of introspection, and with two characters that want to be together and try their hardest to understand the other person’s side of the story, and work to overcome the obstacle that in any other book wouldn’t have been handled even half as elegantly as here.
In short: it’s the kind of romance I love to read the most and I give it my warmest recommendations.