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Zachary’s life is careening toward disaster. At just 24, he’s had to do whatever it takes to survive, including selling his body, and the ways he’s found to escape from his bleak reality are destroying him. On one of the worst nights of his life, Zachary meets TJ, a broken man with demons of his own. A former drug addiction and time in prison took him from his son Trevor Zachary’s life is careening toward disaster. At just 24, he’s had to do whatever it takes to survive, including selling his body, and the ways he’s found to escape from his bleak reality are destroying him. On one of the worst nights of his life, Zachary meets TJ, a broken man with demons of his own. A former drug addiction and time in prison took him from his son Trevor at a young age and left TJ crippled with guilt. He thinks he can help Zachary though, not that he wants to be helped. It takes hitting rock bottom for Zachary to reach out to TJ, the one person he thinks will understand. Neither is expecting the attraction that flares between them, not with their substantial age difference, and certainly not while drowning in a sea of pain and regret. In the process of healing, both begin to discover so much more than they ever dreamed possible. But does love stand a chance between two lost souls who are convinced they’re damaged beyond repair? Who I Used to Be is the twelfth book in Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts and Forever series, but each book is written to stand alone, so jump in anywhere. This gay contemporary romance is approximately 113,000 words in length. It contains explicit language and graphic sex and is intended for adults only.


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Zachary’s life is careening toward disaster. At just 24, he’s had to do whatever it takes to survive, including selling his body, and the ways he’s found to escape from his bleak reality are destroying him. On one of the worst nights of his life, Zachary meets TJ, a broken man with demons of his own. A former drug addiction and time in prison took him from his son Trevor Zachary’s life is careening toward disaster. At just 24, he’s had to do whatever it takes to survive, including selling his body, and the ways he’s found to escape from his bleak reality are destroying him. On one of the worst nights of his life, Zachary meets TJ, a broken man with demons of his own. A former drug addiction and time in prison took him from his son Trevor at a young age and left TJ crippled with guilt. He thinks he can help Zachary though, not that he wants to be helped. It takes hitting rock bottom for Zachary to reach out to TJ, the one person he thinks will understand. Neither is expecting the attraction that flares between them, not with their substantial age difference, and certainly not while drowning in a sea of pain and regret. In the process of healing, both begin to discover so much more than they ever dreamed possible. But does love stand a chance between two lost souls who are convinced they’re damaged beyond repair? Who I Used to Be is the twelfth book in Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts and Forever series, but each book is written to stand alone, so jump in anywhere. This gay contemporary romance is approximately 113,000 words in length. It contains explicit language and graphic sex and is intended for adults only.

30 review for Who I Used to Be

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dia

    I feel like I haven't read the same book as others. After all the rainbows and unicorns in the epilogue I wanted to give it 3 stars. But if I start to think about all the things I didn't like... I am also tempted to give it 1,5 stars because I wanted to give up SO many times. But to be honest, I really try to finish each and every book, no matter how much time it takes. Well I struggled with this one. It has a huge rating, 4,36 and most of my friends loved it. Even if I haven't read any of the pr I feel like I haven't read the same book as others. After all the rainbows and unicorns in the epilogue I wanted to give it 3 stars. But if I start to think about all the things I didn't like... I am also tempted to give it 1,5 stars because I wanted to give up SO many times. But to be honest, I really try to finish each and every book, no matter how much time it takes. Well I struggled with this one. It has a huge rating, 4,36 and most of my friends loved it. Even if I haven't read any of the previous books in the series, the author mentioned it can be read as a standalone. Ummm, it's really not a standalone! I mean, it becomes unbearable at times with ALL the characters thrown in, their partners and kids and relatives and it was frustrating to no end to try to remember the couples properly. It was tiring and oh so frustrating! The beginning was pretty sweet and I thought I knew what's going to happen next, BUT I was in for a surprise. And not a happy one. I was like: WHAT just happened?!? Maybe it's my fault because I dived in completely clueless. I haven't read the blurb or any reviews. So when Zachary's addiction was revealed I really couldn't believe he's the same person from the previous chapters. I love it when two very different characters meet and against all odds they are perfect for each other. Here I can't say I enjoyed how Zachary met TJ. Or how they connected. Until the end of the story I can't say I felt a connection between them. Not really. So this is a big minus. Zachary's addiction to drugs... I've read a few books that made my skin crawl. I've read some books that made me ache real bad right with the characters while they were suffering from withdrawal. Here I can't say I felt much. This book felt SO long, but some parts were superficially treated. I would have wanted many more scenes with only the two of them. I expected much more from this. It might me a case of "it's not the book, it's me". I just wasn't here for ALL the secondary characters and ALL the unnecessary scenes just added to the story. And when super BIG and BAD news comes out of the blue, so near to the end, I just needed to roll my eyes big time! The epilogue was sweet, cheesy, HEA with friends and family, but I swear I just didn't care anymore. So I'm going to stick to only 2 stars. Not my cup of tea 😔

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wendys Wycked Words

    I have read every single book in this series....I just can't stop, they like an addiction to me.. The books in this series are funny, sweet, cheesy, steamy and at times ridiculous...I love it !! This time it's Zachary and TJ's turn and I have to say I found this one a bit different than all the others. For one, it was a bit more emotional and serious. There were still some great funny parts, but it was less ott funny, although book 7 was pretty emotional too. For some reason this one just felt I have read every single book in this series....I just can't stop, they like an addiction to me.. The books in this series are funny, sweet, cheesy, steamy and at times ridiculous...I love it !! This time it's Zachary and TJ's turn and I have to say I found this one a bit different than all the others. For one, it was a bit more emotional and serious. There were still some great funny parts, but it was less ott funny, although book 7 was pretty emotional too. For some reason this one just felt a bit more serious to me, maybe because Nana plays a smaller part. It also deals with several serious subjects... Both MC's have had a difficult past, but the present and future isn't easy for them either. They were both very like-able characters though and I thought they were really sweet together. For those of you who have followed this series, Zachary is Chase's (book 9) friend and TJ is Trevor's (book 5) father. I liked the age difference between these two men. TJ may be Trevor's dad, but he's not extremely old (40), since he had Trevor when he was only 17. Zachary is almost 25. They come together when Zachary hits rock bottom and it turns out TJ is just the person he needs... What I really enjoyed with this book, is that the author explained who all the side characters were, but didn't go into their lifestory this time. This did happen in all the other books, and it got a bit irritating to me. There is also a list at the end of the book, explaining who all the family members and friends are and how they are related. This may be very helpfull for people who just want to jump into the book, without reading all the others. That said....this one can be read as a stand alone, but there are many side characters and if you want to understand who all of them are, you should read more of this series. You don't have to read them in order though. I started with book 6 and worked my way back to 1. I liked this one, but I didn't laugh as hard as I did in some of the others, because of the subjects. Also, the steam was a bit milder than I'm used to with these books. Ofcourse they can't all be my favorite and it was still a good read. I hope there will be a next one real soon, because there are plenty more characters who need their story told. I myself can't wait for Elijah's book. I really hope he gets one !! 3,5 - 4 stars from me

  3. 5 out of 5

    Denise H.

    *** This wonderful series gets deeper, sexier, and more fascinating as we move along. We finally get to see Zachary and his mysterious life. *** It's a gripping tale ! Zachary, 24, friend of Chance, is a prostitute, but getting out of that awful life, and is helped by friends. Older TJ, is Trevor's Dad, and becomes the most important person in Zachary's life. We see Zachary spiral out of control with Heroin. It's not a pretty sight. TJ, having been through addiction himself, is Zachary's "hand u *** This wonderful series gets deeper, sexier, and more fascinating as we move along. We finally get to see Zachary and his mysterious life. *** It's a gripping tale ! Zachary, 24, friend of Chance, is a prostitute, but getting out of that awful life, and is helped by friends. Older TJ, is Trevor's Dad, and becomes the most important person in Zachary's life. We see Zachary spiral out of control with Heroin. It's not a pretty sight. TJ, having been through addiction himself, is Zachary's "hand up" to turn his life around. While he detoxes, TJ is his lifeline. TJ understands and is patient, gets Zachary a counselor, etc. Their relationship becomes deeper, more meaningful and the age difference isn't a problem. They connect on so many levels. It's a slow burn because TJ knows to back off and let Zachary recover; gives him more time. This is an amazing, mind-bending story of recovery, dedication turned to love, and of course we get the usual "family" and friends who are ever present, crazy, and helpful. Other events are occurring: Gabriel's problems, Alistair is helping, a retrial, Nana's escapades, a surrogacy, Elijah's realization, Zachary and TJ each finding inner strength, and the huge mountain of a problem, that TJ and Zachary must climb together. We laugh, we cry, and see the heartfelt emotions of all involved. It's beautifully written, gripping, informative, heartbreaking, humorous, intensely entertaining and relevant. Awesome characters, super sexy times, the younger/older romance, and the magnificent manner the author handles the addiction and recovery events. I look forward to more from these terrific folks all finding their "one" and seeing their self-formed "family" progress. I highly recommend this marvelous tale, and the whole series ! Each can stand alone. ENJOY ! ============================

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Reviewed for Sinfully. As if Zachary’s depression and social anxiety weren’t enough to deal with, there’s another potentially deadly problem he’s been hiding. At 24 he’s been on his own since 18 and life has not been easy. Although he has a home with friends now, he constantly worries that his bad decisions will cause them problems. TJ is 41 and has only recently been reunited with Trevor, the son he had at 17 and lost track of after going to jail when he was only a toddler. He mostly keeps to hi Reviewed for Sinfully. As if Zachary’s depression and social anxiety weren’t enough to deal with, there’s another potentially deadly problem he’s been hiding. At 24 he’s been on his own since 18 and life has not been easy. Although he has a home with friends now, he constantly worries that his bad decisions will cause them problems. TJ is 41 and has only recently been reunited with Trevor, the son he had at 17 and lost track of after going to jail when he was only a toddler. He mostly keeps to himself, working in his repair shop and trying not to be a burden on his son. Zachary is in worse shape than he’ll admit when he lands on TJ’s doorstep. Though they’ve only briefly met before, TJ goes out of his way to help Zachary. They quickly connect and begin to form a friendship, but things get a lot worse for Zachary before he finally breaks and accepts the help and support TJ is offering. Although the two men seemingly would have nothing in common, it turns out that they share more than they can imagine. Similar backgrounds and experiences added to a bit of lust quickly make them the most important person to the other, but the road is going to be tough and saying anything more would spoil things. You were everything I was looking for, and nothing I ever expected. This is more of a slow burn romance than most of the prior books and it’s necessary to the story. Zachary quickly becomes attached, but TJ insists that things go slowly not just because of what Zachary is going through, but because he has his own issues and in part can’t believe that Zachary would want to be with him. There is such a sweetness about how these two introverted, quiet men fall in love and open up to each other and I completely fell for them both. There were a few small things that happened off-page that I would have liked to have seen, but the extent to which the two men bond and move forward is clearly played out and I think they may be one of the strongest couples in recent books. I’ve been waiting for Zachary’s story since he was first introduced as Chance’s friend in book 9, Coming Home and with the hints that have come before, it’s no surprise that Who I Used to Be has a more serious tone than others in the series. It deals with a host of difficult subjects, not that Alexa Land hasn’t taken on serious issues before, but this had more of a quiet, introspective feel to it with a clear focus on TJ and Zachary. Even Nana was a bit subdued here, yet still managed to pull off a penis parade through a mall and “glamping” with a host of drag queens and the entire Dombruso posse. There is also still some development of minor characters from earlier books and since this was TJ and Zachary’s story, there was also the opportunity to get another look at how Trevor and Vincent, and Chance and Finn are getting along as well. Although I know there is always a happy ending I still can’t help worrying about the fates of the characters as the story plays out. Alexa Land doesn’t provide a magic cure for the issues raised and just when it seemed things were settling down everything changed once again. They deal with their obstacles and move toward a happy future with realistic expectations, although the immense fortune at the disposal of the Dombruso clan and some other characters does help ease the way. While storylines get heavy, the story never gets too depressing and the Epilogue was absolutely beautiful. There is an enormity of love, support and humor that surrounds the men and is there for the taking once they allow themselves to do so. I love the way Alexa Land seamlessly introduces new characters into each of these stories; how they are slipped in and quickly become a part of the group. Here we’re treated to several new men who play important parts in the lives of Zachary and TJ, including Murph, TJ’s friend and Zach’s counselor, Kai’s (The Distance) best friend Sawyer, and Zachary’s friend Gabriel. I’m always amazed at how quickly I come to care for these new players with even the briefest of teases about their life and I especially cannot wait to get more of both Sawyer and Gabriel. I know I’m rambling a bit, but this series has been a favorite since I read the first book back in 2013. One thing I do miss is not knowing at the start who the love interest will ultimately be as there are always one or two prospects to start the story. While it is suggested that you could jump in here and read Zachary and TJ’s story (or any of the stories in the series) as a standalone, I think you would have a very hard time following all of the secondary characters that play parts even with the guide in the back of the book. Yes, the love story definitely is fully contained in this book, but your head may spin at the sheer number of other players involved. This is a long story, but it never dragged for me. Alexa Land’s writing has grown more sure and polished over the years. She can bring me from laughs to tears in a matter of paragraphs. This is a series that has gotten stronger as it has gone on and a series that could seemingly go on for years with the way characters are introduced and incorporated. It has grown into an enormous, crazy family created out of love not necessarily blood and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tanu Gill

    It's more like 3.5 stars. The story was good. But there were some parts that were awesomely written but others which just didn't do anything for me. Both the characters were strong, and I loved them, as I love this new addition to the series. But I guess the author has spoiled us with too much drama and excitement in her books that this relatively quiet one (in keeping with the MCs) made me miss the craziness. I found that the main issue was that it felt alternately hurried and slow at times. I w It's more like 3.5 stars. The story was good. But there were some parts that were awesomely written but others which just didn't do anything for me. Both the characters were strong, and I loved them, as I love this new addition to the series. But I guess the author has spoiled us with too much drama and excitement in her books that this relatively quiet one (in keeping with the MCs) made me miss the craziness. I found that the main issue was that it felt alternately hurried and slow at times. I wanted to have the secondary characters have more of a role. But I guess the premise (drug addiction) was such, they really couldn't have been involved more. But still, I could have done without those few scenes where both the MCs irritated me with their talking and dragging. *sighs* I can't wait for the next book and the even later books that will come and keep on continuing the series. I love this whole gang and I can NEVER get enough of them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer☠Pher☠

    After reading 11 books in this series and wanting more and more it pains me to say I am just not going to be able to do this one. I tried. I got to 16% last night and thought maybe I'd wake up and keep going but I can't. I struggled through the other books that had a pretty hard limit for me and was able to finish those but this one, no. This is just not something I ever want to read about in my romance books. So, it breaks my heart to have to DNF a book in a series that I adore. After reading 11 books in this series and wanting more and more it pains me to say I am just not going to be able to do this one. I tried. I got to 16% last night and thought maybe I'd wake up and keep going but I can't. I struggled through the other books that had a pretty hard limit for me and was able to finish those but this one, no. This is just not something I ever want to read about in my romance books. So, it breaks my heart to have to DNF a book in a series that I adore.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Let me start out by saying that you cannot read these books as stand-alones, no matter what the author says. You'll be completely lost, so don't do it. You can skip certain books that don't appeal to you (like I did), but you do have to know the family and all the major players before you 'get' these books. When I read the blurb for this I had some concerns about Zachary pairing up with this older dude. But I was glad that my concerns were unfounded and I ended up really liking these guys togethe Let me start out by saying that you cannot read these books as stand-alones, no matter what the author says. You'll be completely lost, so don't do it. You can skip certain books that don't appeal to you (like I did), but you do have to know the family and all the major players before you 'get' these books. When I read the blurb for this I had some concerns about Zachary pairing up with this older dude. But I was glad that my concerns were unfounded and I ended up really liking these guys together. I never felt TJ was really 41 and the fact that he was pretty shy and withdrawn made me like him even more. BUT.. and this is a major but, there was one minor thing that bothered me, and then a big thing that really made me drop my rating. The minor thing was when Zachary’s secret was finally revealed. I wasn’t happy with what he was doing. (view spoiler)[I didn’t expect him to be shooting up heroin every weekend. (hide spoiler)] I never like that in my books. But… this was sweet Zachary, the guy I’ve liked from the moment I met him in the previous books. So when that part of the book was over, I was glad I stuck with it. It played a major role in the first half, but after that, not so much. And that made me very happy. I really liked the middle part of this book where Zachary and TJ are happy together and we got some great scenes with the rest of the crazy Dombruso family. But then all of a sudden something happened at 87% that really bothered me. I have no idea why at 87% TJ suddenly finds out (view spoiler)[he has HIV. (hide spoiler)] That was so unnecessary and really brought down the story for me. I hate it when big life altering things happen at the end of a story that just messes with the HEA they already had. Of course they did learn how to deal with it and we did get a satisfying HEA at the end. But I just would have been happier if that part never happened. It didn’t add anything to the story for me. So 3 stars because if that, even though the rest of the book felt like a solid 4 star read for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fani *loves angst*

    DNF at 15% One of the weirdest book openings I've ever read! The book starts with a wedding (I guess that of the couple of the previous book?), where a shitload of names is dropped within 20 pages or so (because the heroes in the previous books apparently not only have a partner each, but one or more children as well), and at least 3 men appear as possible love interests for our hero. Our hero then leaves the wedding to go in a friend's house (view spoiler)[to get his heroine fix (hide spoiler)] , DNF at 15% One of the weirdest book openings I've ever read! The book starts with a wedding (I guess that of the couple of the previous book?), where a shitload of names is dropped within 20 pages or so (because the heroes in the previous books apparently not only have a partner each, but one or more children as well), and at least 3 men appear as possible love interests for our hero. Our hero then leaves the wedding to go in a friend's house (view spoiler)[to get his heroine fix (hide spoiler)] , where we meet a few more characters and it all ends in a weird kidnapping attempt(?) of a young man and leaves our hero stranded in the door of yet another man, who apparently is going to be the other MC of this story. To say that this was extremely convoluted to me, will be the understatement of the year. Also, the book is filled with names, people and plot threads from the previous books. Even TJ, our other MC, is connected to a hero of another book, which makes the statement "this book can be read as a stand alone" seem completely invalid to me. I'm someone who's used to reading books out of order, so I shouldn't be having such problems. I don't know if later on the book will focus on the two of them and their relationship instead of all the drama concerning other people's kidnappings, jealous exes, characters from previous stories trying to have children, gambling debts that result in gun standoffs, addicts and God knows what else, but with this kind of opening, I'm not tempted to read anymore and find out. My head hurts enough as it is trying to process everything I read so far. IMHO, from the little I read, this book is NOT a stand alone.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Line

    Since Skye Blue these books have become an instant buy for me, and I was refreshing Alexa's homepage obsessively for days, when she announced that 'Who I Used to Be' was almost ready, and I THINK that this might well be my favourite 'First & Forevers' book of them all! The writing is much much BETTER (this one is not so clunky with too short sentences and too much telling instead of showing.) The humor that Zach and TJ exhibit is fucking ON POINT (Nana is there as well, but these two were really Since Skye Blue these books have become an instant buy for me, and I was refreshing Alexa's homepage obsessively for days, when she announced that 'Who I Used to Be' was almost ready, and I THINK that this might well be my favourite 'First & Forevers' book of them all! The writing is much much BETTER (this one is not so clunky with too short sentences and too much telling instead of showing.) The humor that Zach and TJ exhibit is fucking ON POINT (Nana is there as well, but these two were really funny together!) The outline and plot of the book, was much more SMOOTH. And the story was well fleshed-out. Finally we get Zach's story and it is not a pretty one. We have been wondering where the fuck Zack disappeared to for days on end, and it is such a sad answer. Zach has a 'friend' with a house, she sells all of the drugs in the world, and she lets her best customers crash in one of the rooms upstairs when they're riding their high. Zach is sure that he is not an addict, he controls the heroin, the heroin does not control him... Until it does. Zach has a job at 'Nolan's' and is trying to save up, so he can move out of Chance and Finn's house. But as often is with addicts, his control is slipping and he ends up hitting ROCK BOTTOM. TJ has a repair shop for old TVs and video players, he doesn't have a lot of customers, but he lives rent-free because he's also taking care of the building where the shop and his apartment is located. TJ is tinkering with mechanical 'toys' (kinetic, automata toys made from wheels and scraps from TVs), and is an introvert of the highest order. He has one friend he sees regularly, and he's sort of trying to be a father for Trevor, but is having trouble coming to terms with his short-comings as a dad, when Trevor was a child. These two both need help and maybe a kick in the butt, they have met once at a christmas-thing, but haven't seen each other since. Where is this going Alexa??? When Zach hits rock bottom, TJ is there to pick him up (by way of happenstance and an old business card). And what follows is a really nice story of these two helping each other, a somewhat REALISTIC and nice recovery for Zach with a counselor (thank you) and a slow-burn romance. I have a few favourite moments, the boat-ride with the goose and the camping (glamping) trip with Nana and her entourage were EPIC. And the scene at the AIDS memorial in the park was freaking heartwrenching, in all of the best ways. But mostly this book was a well-crafted romance and a story of picking yourself up, and being better than your circumstances. Beware though: (view spoiler)[TJ is hit with a diagnosis towards the end, and I was so so sad for him and Zach, even though it is not a death sentence per se. It was just... GIVE THEM THEIR FREAKING HEA GODDAMMIT! (hide spoiler)] Lastly Alexa has dropped most of the re-telling of who other characters are and just let them appear, thank FUCK. This made the book so much more smooth IMO. Congrats to Jesse and Kai BTW! This series have grown on me like fungus, and I cannot wait for the next one to come out... I am so so excited to read the stories of all of the new characters introduced in this one (and some of the old ones as well!)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Wow! I'm speechless... Wow! ETA: Ok, I got over being speechless... LOL! First, many thanks to Alexa Land for this amazing series. I have enjoyed all of the books immensely! Second, I LOVE books that make me "feel" something. This book provides that in spades. There was worry, angst, laughter, tears. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, you'll probably be a bit overwhelmed. I don't do spoilers, so I'm not going to rehash the story/plot or tell you what happens. BUT, what does happ Wow! I'm speechless... Wow! ETA: Ok, I got over being speechless... LOL! First, many thanks to Alexa Land for this amazing series. I have enjoyed all of the books immensely! Second, I LOVE books that make me "feel" something. This book provides that in spades. There was worry, angst, laughter, tears. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, you'll probably be a bit overwhelmed. I don't do spoilers, so I'm not going to rehash the story/plot or tell you what happens. BUT, what does happen will keep you turning pages. Probably one of the things I like best about the series and this book is that the secondary characters are as full and rich as the MC's. I loved Zachary and TJ and after getting to know Gabriel, Murphy and Sawyer, I want their stories too!! Well done!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Brand

    REVIEWED FOR PRISM BOOK ALLIANCE 4.5 Stars Alexa Land has built a world in her Firsts and Forever series that is sparkly and always ends well. It may not represent real life but it is a fantastic place to disappear into every now and again. Who I Used to Be felt different to the rest of the series – it had a more serious storyline, it was a little darker and bleaker than Alexa usually writes – there were still plenty of shenanigans that usually involved Nana but they were more spread out as the mo REVIEWED FOR PRISM BOOK ALLIANCE 4.5 Stars Alexa Land has built a world in her Firsts and Forever series that is sparkly and always ends well. It may not represent real life but it is a fantastic place to disappear into every now and again. Who I Used to Be felt different to the rest of the series – it had a more serious storyline, it was a little darker and bleaker than Alexa usually writes – there were still plenty of shenanigans that usually involved Nana but they were more spread out as the more serious story of Zachary and TJ stayed at the forefront. Zachary, as we know from previous books, disappears every now and again for a couple of days and there seemed to be a silent agreement from his friends that they wouldn’t push too much to find out what he was doing. By the time they realise exactly what he is up to things have gotten out of control. Zachary has spent a lot of time kidding himself, his excuses to himself seem to make sense, and he has everything under control – until suddenly he doesn’t. His spiral downwards is quick, painful and addictive. He is hit with so many emotions – he is lost, he is scared and he is ashamed but he is still strong enough to ask for help. TJ is Trevor’s dad and he has only just reconnected with his son after years of addiction and time spent in prison. TJ lives with the shame from his past and the uncertainty of his future. He may have found his son after all the years they lost together but he feels like he’s always on the outside – he never feels needed or wanted but his guilt stops him from making things right. When he finds Zachary collapsed on his doorstep he knows exactly where the much younger man’s head is at but more importantly he has first-hand knowledge that allows him to offer his help. The romance here is slow burn due mainly to the circumstances they find themselves in but there is also the age gap to deal with. TJ isn’t sure about having a lover the same age as his son but it soon becomes obvious that it’s unavoidable as Zachary starts to open up TJ’s life in ways he never thought possible. As dark as this story is Zachary and TJ seem perfect for each other – they are almost like an old married couple before the first kiss.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bike Book Reviews

    I am really excited to be able to share with you (finally) :P how special this book is! Alexa knows what it takes to bring a character to their HEA, and though some of it may be painful, it always turns out to be just the story that needs to be told, Zachary's sure is! There will be moments in this story where you will gasp and say OMG what was she thinking, but believe me, it all ties into a neat little bow at the end and some things open doors for amazing stories ahead! Are you curious yet? I I am really excited to be able to share with you (finally) :P how special this book is! Alexa knows what it takes to bring a character to their HEA, and though some of it may be painful, it always turns out to be just the story that needs to be told, Zachary's sure is! There will be moments in this story where you will gasp and say OMG what was she thinking, but believe me, it all ties into a neat little bow at the end and some things open doors for amazing stories ahead! Are you curious yet? I know you are! Zachary has his eyes open to many things in this book, not the least of them being that the feelings he had for Chance were no doubt just puppy love compared to the real thing he feels for TJ! You will love how these two interact and believe me, though this story is a slow burn, it is one you will not soon forget, and the slower the burn the hotter the ignition, believe me! So I have told you nothing about the plot line, that is because I simply can not! This story is too special to spoil even a little bit, and I hope no one does it! The book should reveal the secrets right? Pick up this book guys, it is magic in printed form and I am positive you will love it just as much as I do! Thanks Alexa, for giving good 'ol TJ the HEA that he and sweet Zachary deserve!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    If It's Not One Thing It's Another I love this whole series! This is a heartbreaking, funny, sweet story that will have you laughing at Nana and crew and crying at the unfair misfortunes of a man who has had a rough time in his life. But life in Alexa Land's stories always comes back to her characters being able to work through their difficulties and come out of them better than when they started. And for me any day that has Nana in it is a wonderful day, lol. Enjoy this read, I did. If It's Not One Thing It's Another I love this whole series! This is a heartbreaking, funny, sweet story that will have you laughing at Nana and crew and crying at the unfair misfortunes of a man who has had a rough time in his life. But life in Alexa Land's stories always comes back to her characters being able to work through their difficulties and come out of them better than when they started. And for me any day that has Nana in it is a wonderful day, lol. Enjoy this read, I did.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sumire

    I love the Firsts and Forever series, I love Alexa Land... but this book doesn't work out for me like the others. sorry book, it's not you it's me. I love the Firsts and Forever series, I love Alexa Land... but this book doesn't work out for me like the others. sorry book, it's not you it's me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    namericanwordcat

    Zach story has been long awaited for me. Such a melancholy figure who aches for love. He gets the exact right hero for him in TJ. At the heart of this romance is an unblinking look at addiction. I think Land does a very fine work being in the mind of an addict. This section of the book is harrowing as is Zach's drying out period and the start of his sobriety is compelling. All this is well balanced with his falling in love. TJ is incredibly well drawn and complex. This is a healing and loving boo Zach story has been long awaited for me. Such a melancholy figure who aches for love. He gets the exact right hero for him in TJ. At the heart of this romance is an unblinking look at addiction. I think Land does a very fine work being in the mind of an addict. This section of the book is harrowing as is Zach's drying out period and the start of his sobriety is compelling. All this is well balanced with his falling in love. TJ is incredibly well drawn and complex. This is a healing and loving book with a great age difference romance. The crazy of this series mellows out but we get all of the wonderful cast. A really lovely read. A reread for sure.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ReadingAllNite

    4.5 stars for Alexa's world. You have to read Alexa Land's stories with some rainbow glasses on. She has her characters face some tough situations but they end up kind of insulated in glitter. Which is not a bad thing! I mean, you have a mafia family comprised of mostly gay or bi men, led by a whacky grandmother, Nana, who collects gay men like a magnet. They all manage to form this enormous ever-growing family that exudes love and acceptance. I'm kind of losing track of who's who at this point. Z 4.5 stars for Alexa's world. You have to read Alexa Land's stories with some rainbow glasses on. She has her characters face some tough situations but they end up kind of insulated in glitter. Which is not a bad thing! I mean, you have a mafia family comprised of mostly gay or bi men, led by a whacky grandmother, Nana, who collects gay men like a magnet. They all manage to form this enormous ever-growing family that exudes love and acceptance. I'm kind of losing track of who's who at this point. Zachary and TJ face some very painful and life changing situations in this latest installment. It included one scenario I particularly disliked because I think it sends a bad message. The other I wish hadn't happened so close to the end of the book, but it all turns out okay. The main message is about found family and all the connection and friendships and loving couples. If you need a story that doesn't ignore real life but offers a wonderful happy ending, you can't beat a Firsts and Forever story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lila Hunter

    I did enjoy the story but it had more angst that I expected. The main characters were lovely and I liked the idea of having and older MC.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This is the 12th in the series and I've been waiting for Zachary's story since I read book 9 (it's all confusing. Don't ask) a couple months ago. But since on 9-11 are audios I had to catch up on all the ebooks 1-8 before I could read this one. It's good, a little heavy, a little slow during the middle and too fast at the end, but a good story all together. TW for heroin, overdose, HIV and AIDS, prostitution, sex. This is the 12th in the series and I've been waiting for Zachary's story since I read book 9 (it's all confusing. Don't ask) a couple months ago. But since on 9-11 are audios I had to catch up on all the ebooks 1-8 before I could read this one. It's good, a little heavy, a little slow during the middle and too fast at the end, but a good story all together. TW for heroin, overdose, HIV and AIDS, prostitution, sex.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vfields Don't touch my happy!

    This was a good solid installment to this series. I think Land set up a character with some heady challenges and overall she didn’t gloss over it or had a miracle cure. There is a lot of fun and laughs. There was a a weight to the story but Land didn’t try to solve it. Trevor is good for the story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diane Dannenfeldt

    I'm so happy that Zach & JT got their HEA. I love this series! I'm so happy that Zach & JT got their HEA. I love this series!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Inca

    I got a hint on this being told it had less rainbows. And it might not be as rainbow and sparkly as the previous. But I think it might be the best one so far.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nagisa Furukawa

    It was really good. As per usual. It is indeed good to have a safety net and a people who love you so much. I wish I was part of something like that! I didn't like Z that much, but TJ was a great guy. I absolutely adored him, just like the way I adored Dimitri or Dante or Vincent. At first I was sure that Z would relapse, go back to using again and I was surprised when it didn't happen and instead ... THAT happened. And hey, was Farzad and Iranian or sth? :) One thing that bothers me in this serie It was really good. As per usual. It is indeed good to have a safety net and a people who love you so much. I wish I was part of something like that! I didn't like Z that much, but TJ was a great guy. I absolutely adored him, just like the way I adored Dimitri or Dante or Vincent. At first I was sure that Z would relapse, go back to using again and I was surprised when it didn't happen and instead ... THAT happened. And hey, was Farzad and Iranian or sth? :) One thing that bothers me in this series is the Nana parts. I know most people love her and her antics or whatever, but I skip all the Nana parts when I can. At first she was kind of funny, but then it got irritating. That's my personal opinion, and no offence. The next one is a shorty about Dante and the arsonist? PLZ, I beg you, don't let anything bad happen to Dante. I'm in love with him, I can't stand it if he's hurt! Well, in love with him and his husband and their love. Can't wait for the next book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michele Notaro

    A beautiful story Zachary's story was just beautiful. I loved him and TJ together. They just seemed to fit together perfectly. Alexa Land always does an amazing job making you care about all the characters in her books and somehow, even in a more serious book like this one, she still finds ways to make you laugh. I will for sure be rereading this book just like I reread all of Alexa Land's books. If you've never tried one of her books, please do, you won't be disappointed!!! A beautiful story Zachary's story was just beautiful. I loved him and TJ together. They just seemed to fit together perfectly. Alexa Land always does an amazing job making you care about all the characters in her books and somehow, even in a more serious book like this one, she still finds ways to make you laugh. I will for sure be rereading this book just like I reread all of Alexa Land's books. If you've never tried one of her books, please do, you won't be disappointed!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cranky Otter

    Nicely optimistic. Charming with a shake of grim. Content warning for heroin abuse shown on page. 2 lonely introverts learn to let more people in to their lives while their family & friends figure out better ways to support them after some false starts. Both have serious issues to overcome or deal with and while the dealing with the problems goes fairy-tale well, that’s what we’re here for, so I’ll allow it. Like the best romances, they bring out the best in each other, allow each other to be mo Nicely optimistic. Charming with a shake of grim. Content warning for heroin abuse shown on page. 2 lonely introverts learn to let more people in to their lives while their family & friends figure out better ways to support them after some false starts. Both have serious issues to overcome or deal with and while the dealing with the problems goes fairy-tale well, that’s what we’re here for, so I’ll allow it. Like the best romances, they bring out the best in each other, allow each other to be more comfortable in their presence than alone, and encourage each other to mend fences with F&F as well as learn new (or expand existing) skills. Their union is transformative for both and they’re really sweet. This book has a LOT of preexisting secondary characters with pretty major scenes, so I would recommend having read books 9&11 at a minimum to derive maximum joy from their scenes cameos. (Jumping into the series via audiobook with Chance/Finn & Jessie/Kai worked for me.) The series is fun with mostly fairy tale level happy endings so they come round right like a good romance should and have good humor, genuine caring and friendship tempering the grim events enough that the very weight addiction problem seems in remission so the end make the storyline feels fluffier than it is when in the weeds. Recommended

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Holderman

    Taking on tough subjects with class Alexa land brings to light the heavy use of drugs in the gay community and how deep people can fall. But it is love the brings it all together. We meet Zachary, the real Zachary and come to discover his secrets. And in doing so we see him find love in an unexpected place the father of one of his friends. Through the trails they go through together one thing is certain and that is love conquers all. And even facing a diagnosis love steps in to calm all fears. Th Taking on tough subjects with class Alexa land brings to light the heavy use of drugs in the gay community and how deep people can fall. But it is love the brings it all together. We meet Zachary, the real Zachary and come to discover his secrets. And in doing so we see him find love in an unexpected place the father of one of his friends. Through the trails they go through together one thing is certain and that is love conquers all. And even facing a diagnosis love steps in to calm all fears. Thank you again Alexa land for a wonderful story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emerson

      I quite enjoyed the book. 10 out od 10 would read again. It had both feels and laughs. As the MC says "Part of this story gets fairly dark, but spoiler alert: it has a happy ending.”  In it's way it felt a bit soap opera-y having a large ensemble cast and lots of drama. However, the drama felt realistic to me, rather an being a "how-can-I-torture-my-characters fest." The book did a good job maintaining a light, optimistic tone through out. And shout-out to Nana Dombruso, who is the outrageous,   I quite enjoyed the book. 10 out od 10 would read again. It had both feels and laughs. As the MC says "Part of this story gets fairly dark, but spoiler alert: it has a happy ending.”  In it's way it felt a bit soap opera-y having a large ensemble cast and lots of drama. However, the drama felt realistic to me, rather an being a "how-can-I-torture-my-characters fest." The book did a good job maintaining a light, optimistic tone through out. And shout-out to Nana Dombruso, who is the outrageous, funny and loving grandmother we all deserve.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I think I've missed a couple books in this series or its been so long since I read them that I didn't remember everyone that weaved in and out of the book. It did push this series into my re-read pile when I get some time. I did enjoy Zach and TJ's story even if they were fuzzy characters from the previous books. I love the age gap but I love even more that they both were addicts and through out the book they support each other. Dispite the seriousness of their backgrounds this book felt fairly I think I've missed a couple books in this series or its been so long since I read them that I didn't remember everyone that weaved in and out of the book. It did push this series into my re-read pile when I get some time. I did enjoy Zach and TJ's story even if they were fuzzy characters from the previous books. I love the age gap but I love even more that they both were addicts and through out the book they support each other. Dispite the seriousness of their backgrounds this book felt fairly fluffy and sweet. Nana steals the show with walking dicks and glamping.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Earl Rose

    More from Alexa Land in the First and Forever Series. This is my second or third time going through this series. Obviously, I like the books a lot and this one is no exception. I admire Land's ability to keep us updated with ALL the characters in the series. As a gay man of a certain age I find the stories very relatable. Another thing, the series illuminates all the various forms of gay male identity. Far from academic the series could be requred reading for a college course on gay life. Oh. On More from Alexa Land in the First and Forever Series. This is my second or third time going through this series. Obviously, I like the books a lot and this one is no exception. I admire Land's ability to keep us updated with ALL the characters in the series. As a gay man of a certain age I find the stories very relatable. Another thing, the series illuminates all the various forms of gay male identity. Far from academic the series could be requred reading for a college course on gay life. Oh. One thing. The sex is always very hot. Nicely so.

  29. 4 out of 5

    dbbks3

    Sweet, Funny & Tender This is one of the top series that I have actress and I have been reading since I was there years old. READ THIS SERIES IN ORDER. Nana is one of the best literary characters ever. Her boys are wonderful. This series makes the reader laugh out loud and can bring one to tears. The writing is excellent. This book in the series is no exception. Alexa Land is an auto bye for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Good book I enjoyed Zachary’s story he and TJ were great for each other. I felt a little bad for Alistair and for Elijah but I am sure they will find their happiness in a future books. Zachary has so much to get through and it was nice to see how steady TJ was. It was also nice to see TJ and Trevor really work to reconnect.

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