Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her Man of Honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the Best Man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.
The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.
When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.
I have been wishing for this book to be written ever since I read the novelette Helping Hand in the Bluewater Bay Valentine’s Day anthology Lights, Camera, Cupid. I really enjoyed the story and even commented in my review that I hoped the author planned to write a full-length novel about Gabe and Lucas and that’s exactly what Wedding Favors is. The best part – I didn’t even realize it was the follow-up to Helping Hand until I started reading the book. Now if you haven’t read Helping Hand yet don’t fret because Wedding Favors takes place twelve years later and the references to events from the novelette will bring you up to speed – but Lights, Camera, Cupid is a great read so I do recommend it.
I loved both Lucas and Gabe. When Lucas left Bluewater Bay a dozen years ago, he set out to make a name for himself as an artist. Throughout the course of the book, we learn that Lucas is an extremely talented artist and has made a name for himself in the fine crafts art style – art that is aesthetically pleasing and functional. While Lucas clearly enjoys creating fine crafts, his passion seems to lie with creating sculptures. Just as Gabe did, I enjoyed the scenes when Lucas got lost in his art because unlike Gabe we were given peeks inside Lucas’s head at times and got to experience his creative process. I am not an artistically creative person so I found it fascinating and would have loved to have seen the wedding favors Lucas created. Even knowing that he was gay, I was surprised with just how open and affectionate Gabe was toward Lucas and found it kind of amusing that it was Gabe who was relieved that Lucas was accepting of his need to touch. Despite Gabe being a logger/farmer and Lucas being an artist, their lifestyles complemented one another well. Because Gabe works the family’s land and has horses to tend to, his is not a 9 to5 Monday through Friday job and his past partners didn’t seem to understand that, but as an artist who creates when inspiration strikes (or when he has to design and create favors for his best friend’s wedding) Lucas didn’t need to be entertained while Gabe had work to do. More often than not, Gabe found himself waiting on Lucas – which was a refreshing change for him.
Even though much of what goes on between Gabe and Lucas is colored by the incident in Helping Hand you really don’t have to read it because we learn that the two men have distinctly different memories and interpretations of that night. I was relieved to find out that I was right about Gabe and what happened that Valentine’s night twelve years ago. But their memories of that night do have a huge impact on how they act and react to one another. Lucas is extremely gun-shy around Gabe and we learn that his relationship with his ex, Drew, did nothing to help his self-esteem at all. Thankfully Gabe “gets” Lucas better than anyone ever has and he does a great job of reassuring Lucas…until he doesn’t and nearly rips Lucas’s heart out. I really enjoyed watching their relationship play out – yes, even the heartbreaking parts and especially the hot sex scenes. Apparently there is something to be said for pining for a guy for 12 years. I loved Wedding Favors and the fact that I got to see “the rest of the story.” I’m looking forward to the next Bluewater Bay book already.