“You were my best friend, and I didn't know, that you were in love with me, but it never showed. But I in-turn had feelings too. Feelings of love, only for you. Turning to lovers, after being friends, both afraid our friendship would end.” — “Friends in Love!” ~ chastidy
For years Nate and Finn, of 'Thirty Things' by Cate Ashwood, have behaved as a couple, just without the sex. They've always taken care of each other. They live together, share household responsibilities, meals, almost everything is done with the other in mind, particularly in Nate's case. He's tried his best to make things easier for Finn whether it be buying a low truck so Finn will have easy access, to giving him a piggy back ride when he gets too tired to walk. It's obvious that they truly love each other, just not in the way they both wish they could. Thank goodness Nate decides to change that.
There are many things Nate and Finn have talked about but haven't done, and Nate decides it's high time they tried them. He plans an elaborate road trip with several stops and activities around the country and writes a list of thirty things to do before they turn thirty; some are simple and others are complicated, but all are amazing. Nate puts each in a separate envelope for Finn to open, one each day. Finn is overwhelmed by Nate's generosity and can't wait to get started. Some things on the list are really enjoyable, like gambling in Las Vegas; and others, like bungee jumping, terrify Finn, but even with that, he trusts Nate so implicitly that he goes along with whatever Nate has planned with little argument.
As if the trip weren't magical enough, Finn's biggest surprise is when Nate kisses him; really kisses him. Instead of being happy, Finn is totally befuddled He starts speculating on what the kiss means and becomes anxious and a bit paranoid. Is Nate joking? Does he really share Finn's feelings? Since when is Nate gay? Is this just happening during the trip? What happens when they get back home? As has been Finn's pattern for their whole life when it comes to his feelings for Nate, he can't bring himself to talk to Nate about his fears and concerns. He buries them like he always has, leaving Nate to speculate on what's wrong. As much as Finn wants to believe that what he's dreamed of for years is finally happening, it's hard for him to let go and enjoy it. When Finn finally tells Nate how he's feeling, Nate tries even harder to prove he's sincere.
Reading this endearing friends-to-lovers story is like visiting a comfortable place where I could feel safe and happy. It's a down-to-earth experience rather than a great challenge necessitating a lot of deep thinking. There's very little angst. The trip involves lots of wonderful scenery; with exotic, frightening, challenging, and simply touching parts. Nate and Finn fit together so well that it made my heart hurt, but in a good way, giving me that warm and fuzzy feeling that a book this special often does. If you are a hopeless romantic like me, you may love this story. Thanks, Cate, for the lovely story and informative journey.