Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.
After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.
Until a night out together changes everything.
Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.
The Boy Next Door by Kate McNally is a childhood friends to adult lovers story about Lowell and Jase, two gay men dealing with a conservative small town and family in their own ways. Lowell by remaining out and proud, as he had since high school, and Jason is firmly in his closet. While the two men rekindle their friendship, Lowell operates under the assumption that Jase is straight, until he confesses otherwise. Now the two men must decide what’s worth sacrificing in the name of love.
I wanted to like this book. It has such a potentially sweet premise. But it just played on too many clichés – evil ex-wife, gay men in a conservative town, and a child (Jason’s) caught in the middle. To add to my difficulty, I had trouble connecting to Jason. The book was almost too realistic and Jason was just not a nice person for most of the story, so I came away struggling to envision his and Lowell’s relationship working long term. I will say, Lowell was a complete sweetheart who I couldn’t help falling in love with.
Overall, The Boy Next Door was a well-written story that did not grab me, but I’m sure other readers will feel differently.