on July 5, 2014
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Who would you become if you lost the only person who ever mattered?
For twenty-six year old Dylan Hopkins, the answer is easy. He’s become no one. Memories of the happier times are all he has left as he finds himself meandering numbly through his now dull life. Though he cares about his work and family dearly, he’s yet to let himself find love again. Afraid of letting go of what he once had, Dylan chooses to keep his heart buried, where it belongs, having died a long time ago.
Conner Michelson is about to change everything Dylan knows. He’s every bit the bad boy persona - tatted up, ex-MMA fighter, but after an injury leaves him unable to fight, he has to rethink his goals. Having just opened his own gym, Conner can cross his first major life accomplishment off his very short list. Next up: find a man he can settle down with and build a family. Seems simple enough - a dream most people have, but when he meets Dylan, his carefree, easy-going life is thrown into a tailspin.
Determined to keep Dylan in his life, Conner vows to resurrect Dylan's long ago buried heart and let love live once more.
I wanted to start by saying I read this book stand alone, let me repeat I read this wonderfully powerful male male romance stand alone and I loved it!
Let Love Live is the story of Dylan Hopkins, a man so wounded by his past that in order for Ms. Collins to provide the reader with a happy, she must first allow the reader to experience his painful past. This was masterfully done in a way that had me feeling such a range of emotions.
I loved Connor, my heart broke for Shane but this is Dylan’s story. Dylan’s first love, Dylan’s heartbreak and Dylan’s discovery that moving forward is the best way to truly honor the past.
Despite being told in three well written pov’s, this book is not a ménage. It is a powerful story of young love, heartbreak, the soul breaking kind and then about moving forward. The moving forward is hard but wow can it be so worth it. The heartbreak in this book reminded me that the hate in this world sadly continues to destroy so many souls.
Conner Michelson’s introduction in this book was a masterful flip in the tone of the book that was so well done!
Conner and Dylan coming together was hot, at times raw with emotion and in the end the reader truly feels this love that changes the lives of both men.
Its not about what life gives you, but what you do with it. It might have taken Dylan almost 10 years but the lesson shines through in Let Love Live.
Thank you Ms. Collins for this touching and powerful story!
“We’re going to climb that?” My incredulous question is met with a less than appreciative look from Conner. My eyes however are glued to the Everest like mountain in front of me.
Adjusting the strap of his backpack, his lips pull into a wry smile. “The deal was,” he declares, snapping the belt of the bag closed around his waist, “that if I went camping with you, you would do whatever I wanted.”
Shaking my head, I laugh, but stare at what Conner told me was “just a hill.” In a few long strides, he’s already ahead of me. Calling after him, I say, “You know, when I said I’d do anything you wanted, I was thinking along the lines of in a bed.”
Stopping in his tracks and spinning on his heel, his eyes roam over me from head to toe. His lips twist into a playful smile as he takes a step closer to me. Dropping a hand softly to my cheek, he pulls my face to his. “Oh believe me, we will make use of that bed,” he utters against my lips. “But, first,” he says with more energy than seductiveness, “we climb.”
The determination in his voice tells me there’s no point in arguing with him. Besides it’s a gorgeous day; it’d be a shame to waste it in bed.
An hour and a few bottles of water later, Conner takes a break, seemingly satisfied with the progress we’ve made. No matter how much I’ve been working out recently, one thing’s for sure: Conner will always be in better shape than I am. The man is a machine – and a mighty fine one to watch all morning long.
“Stop here for lunch?” Squatting next to his bag, Conner pulls out some sandwiches, more water and a large blanket.
Looking out at the view, trees line the horizon and surround a small lake in the distance, I nod my head. “This is perfect,” I agree, helping him spread the blanket.
Neither one of us realize how hungry we are until we take our first bite. Our exertion from the climb makes us eat in silence, but since we pretty much swallow our sandwiches whole, it doesn’t last long.
Watching the sun move behind the clouds, Conner shimmies up under a tree. Resting his arms on bent knees, a happy look of reminiscence plays over his face.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask as I move to sit next to him.
“My dad,” he says wistfully, but no with too much sadness.
“Anything in particular?” Lacing my hand with his, I give it a gentle squeeze of support.
On a deep sigh, he stretches his legs out. “Not really. Just times like these that I miss him.” He turns to me with a look of longing in his eyes.
“What do you mean ‘times like these’?” I twist to him in slight confusion.
“We were always really close. Not that I wasn’t close with my mom, but Dad and I were just different, you know.”
Nodding in understanding, I think about the relationship I have with my own father, how he was and still continues to always be there for me. Not many people are fortunate enough to have that kind of support and my heart hurts that it was taken away from Conner.
“One of my happiest memories with him was not much unlike this one. In scenery at least,” he laughs, popping a quick kiss to my lips. “I was in high school, a junior I think. We went for a run down some nature trail. He was always training with me. He said it kept him young. After a few miles, we sat on a log and talking about the upcoming wrestling season. That man was always my biggest fan,” a soft chuckle bubbles from his chest at the same time a sad smile appears on his face.
“What did you talk about that day?” I ask on a hunch that it was something important.
“That was the day I came out to him.”
From the stories I’ve heard, I know his family was openly supportive, but he’s never been this detailed. “What did he say?”
“He laughed,” Conner waves his hand at me, chasing away my confusion. “Not like that. He was laughing because he already knew. As cliché as it sounds, he told me he’d figured it out when I was twelve or thirteen, but knew that it was something I had to tell him. After that, he told me that he’d always be there for me, no matter what” his hand squeezes mine. The wistful memory quickly changes into one that carries a touch more sadness as he adds, “Just wish his time with me wasn’t cut so short. My dad was a good man and I miss him like crazy, but that was one of my happiest memories. I’d never felt so at peace with the world. I knew that as long as I had my dad on my side, I’d be all right.”
Conner’s eyes meet mine before I lean in to kiss him sweetly. After pulling away, he asks, “So tell me one of your happiest memories.”
Rubbing a hand over my jaw and through my hair, I pretend to have to think about it, which just earns me an elbow jab in the ribs. “Okay, okay,” I choke out through my laughter.
“It was the day Braden was born,” my tone of certainty causes Conner’s face to split into a wide smile.
“Yeah, that little bugger is pretty special huh?”
“I’ll never forget when I was introduced to him for the first time.”
Hearing Maddy and Reid talking quietly inside the room, I knocked on the door softly. Peeking my head into the slightly opened door, I braced myself for the worst. Boobs freaked me out – seeing my would-be-sister-in-law half naked was not something I was really looking forward to.
“Hey,” Reid stepped toward me, waving me into the room. We did the whole half backslap half hug thing, but this one was more meaningful, lasting just a second longer than usual.
“Who would’ve thought? You? A dad?” Clapping a hand on Reid’s shoulder, we walked toward Maddy who was propped up in bed, holding a peacefully-sleeping baby.
Looking down at his new, little family, Reid smiled and laughed. “Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?”
Maddy attempted to pull herself up from her half-slumped position and winced in pain. “Here, babe. Let me help.” Reid scooped the baby out of her arms, and, without a second thought, handed the swaddled bundle to me.
The room spun and I actually had to blink the disbelief away. Set like huge, round saucers in a pudgy face, cloudy, blue eyes stared back at me. Though they weren’t hazel like his, I couldn’t help but see a glimmer of Shane in the baby’s eyes – maybe it was that they were a touch darker around the rim, or that they seemed to connect with my own. Maybe it was the family resemblance, or the innocence there, but no matter what it was, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been given back a piece of the family I had long since thought was lost to me.
“His name’s Braden,” Reid’s voice, filled with love, floated through my haze of disbelief.
“After my dad,” Maddy explained as she stood next to the bed, tying the belt of her robe.
Reid stood on one side of me and Maddy slowly moved to the other before Reid added, “His middle name is Shane.”
At the mention of his name, my throat closed, suddenly coated in thick emotion. After letting myself feel sad for a minute, a new feeling bathed over me.
One of happiness.
“The doctor said I should try walking again,” Maddy announced, looping her arm through Reid’s.
Fumbling for words, I watched them walk toward the door. “Wait,” I finally managed. “What about him?” I asked, looking back and forth between Braden and his parents.
With a smug look plastered to his face, Reid chuckled and said, “He just ate. You’ll be fine. Say hello to your nephew and we’ll be back before you know it.” And with that, they were gone, leaving me alone with the baby who carried the name of the only man I had ever loved and lost.
“Hey, buddy,” I said softly into the bundle of blankets. My voice was met with a slow squirm. After pulling his hands out of the blankets, I stroked my finger along his round, pink cheek, and traced it along his skinny forearm.
“Gotta work on these muscles, little man,” I joked, but my laughter was cut short when he gripped my single finger with his entire hand.
“I know your daddy will tell you all about him, but I won’t ever let you forget your uncle.” Shaking my head, I realized he could never forget a man he’d never met, but I also knew that I didn’t need to be so careful with my words around Braden.
“He’d love you. My God, he’d love you so much. I wish he could be here, but just know that I’ll try my damnedest to be the best uncle possible.” My words were met with a huge yawn. Taking my cue from Braden, I sank into the rocking chair tucked in the corner. He fell asleep quickly as I told him about how me and his Uncle Shane first met.
“How’d you make out?” Reid called from the door, his arm wrapped around Maddy’s shoulder.
“I didn’t break him. So, I’d say it was a success,” I joked and watched in awe as Reid helped Maddy back into bed.
Idly, I thought about how I wanted that one day. Someone to love. Someone to build a family with. Someone to spend the rest of my life with.
“That’s a sweet story, Dyl,” Conner leans in, wrapping his arm around my shoulder. As he brushes his lips sweetly across mine, everything becomes crystal clear.
“It’s you,” I mutter against his lips. Mirroring my confusion from earlier, Conner pulls away from me.
“Uh, yeah. It’s me,” he jokes, looking at me like I’m a fool. Standing up next to me, he looks out at the sun at is dips low in the horizon. After dusting the dirt from his shorts, he begins picking up the garbage from our make-shift picnic. “We better get started if we want to make it back down before dark,” he says as he’s turned away from me. When I offer no response, he turns around. What starts out as a frustrated look morphs into one of shock when he sees me bended on one knee.
“It’s you that I meant to spend the rest of my life with,” awe colors my words. Conner opens and closes his mouth a few times, unable to find any words. “I love you and I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have someone as incredible as you in my life. And now, you’ve become more important to me than anyone.”
Still searching for something to say, Conner wordlessly sinks to his knees with me. With hands locked together, I say the words I never thought I would.
“Conner, nothing would make me happier than to spend the rest of our lives together. Will you marry me?”
His kiss is the only response I need to know he feels the exact same way. “So is that a yes?” I ask, though it seems unnecessary.
“Yes,” he says against my lips, holding my face in his hands. “Yes, of course, yes,” his words grow in excitement as he pulls me to my feet.
Spinning me around in his arms, on top of a mountain, I feel weightless. I feel in love.
For the first time in the last eight years, I feel alive.
♥READ THE SERIES♥