“The closet does have a benefit. It provides safety. Which at times is important. But remember, as long as you are in there, two other things will be too. Fear and shame.” ~ Anthony Venn-Brown
Jeremy, of 'Coming Clean' by Silvia Violet, is stuck in a rut in his job and life. After a bad breakup, he's content to stay in his cabin and read, sleep, or watch TV. His best friend, David, is trying to encourage him to go out and be with people, or as he tells Jeremy: “You need to get laid.” When Jeremy surprisingly inherits his aunt and uncle's fortune, he's faced with choices and opportunities he's never had before. While looking for someone to clean the huge house he has now, he meets Connor, who owns his own cleaning business. What begins as a “coming clean” with Jeremy's house also necessitates Connor coming clean, first with himself, then with everyone else. If he can't do this, he and Jeremy will not make it.
Although Connor isn't Jeremy's type, he's taken with him. Jeremy proceeds slowly because he thinks Connor is straight. When he discovers otherwise, he develops a strong attachment to him. After a rocky start, Jeremy and Connor realize how much they enjoy being together; the sex is great and full of surprises. They learn to compromise and find things they both enjoy. Jeremy is patient with Connor, but he is in still the closet. Jeremy's been out for years and has no desire to be anyone's dirty little secret. Jeremy keeps trying to tell himself that he can deal with never going out in public, but in his heart knows he will never be happy that way.
Even after the repeal of DADT, Connor is terrified that coming out will cause him to lose his credibility; thinking that if people know he's gay, it will somehow diminish his past accomplishments, especially with his best friend, Mario. Connor has major issues with self-esteem. He joined the Marines because of his abusive father and for a while thought he'd gone from the frying pan to the fire, but he soon became a skilled, confident Marine. Mario, another Marine, took him under his wing. They became fast friends enduring both good and bad times. Like many former members of the armed forces, Connor has unresolved PTSD issues involving an inability to adjust to civilian life, flashbacks, and bad dreams, all of which undermine his stability. Connor has no idea what he can do as a civilian. All Connor knows is fighting and cleaning, which leads him to begin his own business, Spit Shine Clean. At first Connor is terrified of Jeremy because of his preconceived notions that a college poetry professor would be intelligent, distinguished, and snobby, but Jeremy quickly dispels those notions. Connor finds him to be very down-to-earth and accessible. Connor fights his demons which are telling him he's not capable of having a real relationship, but sometimes they win. When that happens, the results are devastating for everyone involved.
Jeremy and Connor are complex, well developed characters. I liked Jerry right away, but it took longer for me to like Connor. I wanted to shake Connor more than once, for his convoluted and unproductive thinking, but, at the same time, empathized with the pain his military service caused. Both men showed enormous character growth, especially when it came to communication. I loved David, Jeremy's best friend. As crazy as he acts sometimes, David obviously loves Jeremy dearly and is fiercely protective of him. If you like stories about gay poetry professors, big, strong Marines coming out, very hot sexual exploration, and clean houses, you may enjoy this book.