A widowed restaurateur falls for a young waiter in a Detroit-set romance with heart, sweat, and tears.
When his husband, John, died five years ago, Asher let both their restaurant and his personal connections drift. Hoping to breathe life into the dying Idlewild, Asher replaces his entire staff. One of his new hires is Tyler, a recent pre-med grad taking a break from his march to an M.D. Tyler’s intense, youthful exuberance and optimism shake Asher from his distant reserve. But Tyler is in a long-term relationship with Malik. While Asher has moved on in some ways from John’s death, he's in deep denial about his emotional readiness for a new love. Sierra (What It Takes, 2016, etc.) has created a very natural and psychologically astute portrayal of a romantic relationship, by turns funny, delightful, and painful. A poet, Sierra often surprises with a lovely turn of phrase: to describe Tyler’s mixed racial and gender identity: “Tyler knows of the middleness of his body”; on the toll of restaurant life: “Morning is tight in his bones, and he hurts with exhaustion.” Less successfully, Sierra uses the tension between “the two Detroits,” personified in Asher’s wealthy suburban upbringing and Tyler’s East Detroit background, to build conflict; in those passages, the writing can seem didactic. A leisurely read that allows its characters to unfurl in layers, revealing how love of another reflects our true selves back to us in sometimes surprising and challenging ways.
A lovely, finely wrought romance that reminds us that to truly love another, we must know our own hearts.