The missing piece of the puzzle might be the one piece he can’t keep.
Ellery College, Book 2
Before heading for grad school, Zach O’Malley needs downtime from his superhero-worthy schedule. Painting houses seems like the perfect summer gig for some mindless mellowing out.
There’s just one wrinkle in Zach’s Zen plan. Coworker Kirby Kurtcehajic, a hippie kid who starts hitting on him with happy and hardcore voracity three seconds after they meet. And has the ability to make his mind and body leap with a single smile.
Kirby would be the first to call himself a cockeyed optimist, but even he admits he’s had a tough year. After busting his knee, losing his cat, and accidentally demolishing his Vermont house, seducing way-too-serious Zach is the ideal distraction.
But when another spectacular mishap lands Kirby in crisis, Zach puts on his superhero cape to come to the rescue. And as boundaries dissolve, Kirby realizes he may be in too deep. Because the end of summer is coming, when Zach will be moving on, and Kirby will have to continue his quest for independence—alone.
Having loved Uncovering Ray, I jumped at the chance to read Unmasking Zach. Unlike book one, there is no doubt as to Zach and Kirby’s gender or sexuality – at least not for the reader. What there is doubt about, is whether or not these two guys can get along well enough to work together, much less form the relationship the blurb suggests. And while the straight-laced boy-next-door, Zach, and the free-spirted hippie, Kirby, seem to have nothing in common, the sparks certainly fly once Kirby learns that Zach is gay and the guys begin to spend time together outside of work. But with Zach leaving for college in the fall, will their time together be simply a summer romance or the start of something more?
I loved both of these guys. They come from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds and while Kirby assumes that Zach has it easier because he lacks the financial woes Kirby has, he comes to understand that money really isn’t everything when he realizes that he has more freedoms in his life than Zach does. Although they embark upon a friends with benefits arrangement due to Zach’s college plans, the guys find themselves feeling more for one another than they should for a summer fling. Watching their relationship develop was both sweet and hot as heck. Seriously, can we get a camera in that yurt? We are talking about two men in their early twenties here and while there is a good amount of sex, it flowed with the storyline. Seeing how Zach backed away from Kirby after his first accident was heartbreaking, especially when the reader is given a chance to see the withdrawal from Kirby’s point of view. It’s also what makes Zach’s handling of Kirby’s recovery after the second injury so enjoyable and entertaining – especially when Zach introduces the compromise. Again with the hotness! Holy heck!!!
Because they were doing so well, I was shocked by the actions Kirby took to insure that Zach went off to college when the time came. I understood why Kirby did what he did and I thought his heart was in the right place, but how he went about doing it shocked me because I didn’t see Kirby willing to ask others for that level of help – even if it were for Zach and not him. But it absolutely ripped my heart out on both Zach and Kirby’s behalf. While I hated that Kirby endured what he did with his mother, taking yet another emotional hit, I liked that it enabled Zach to be there for Kirby when he needed Zach the most. The ending was great because the author lets you know where the couple is headed while leaving it open ended enough that I suspect we’ll see the guys in a future installment in the series. Kudos to Danford for including Ray and Wyatt in this installment and keeping the lid on Ray’s sexual identity so that should someone pick up book two first, they can read it as a standalone without the secret of book one being spoiled. Unmasking Zach was a great addition to the Ellery College series and I can’t wait to see who the author has set her sights on next.