Up-and-coming Broadway actor Jeremy was given two days to get up and get out. Dumped by his long-term boyfriend and suddenly homeless, he needs a sofa and a sympathetic ear, stat.
Enter Max, aspiring makeup artist and Jeremy’s BFF and former roommate.
Max has been in love with his best friend forever. Now that Jeremy is back in his home, his old feelings are back, too. He’s happy to help his friend, but this time…it’s complicated.
When Jeremy gets his big break in a new show, the message of the play hits home. “Live life to the fullest” means recognizing how he really feels about Max, and that’s not complicated at all. Jeremy’s in love, and wants to move full steam ahead.
But Max has waited too long for Jeremy to look at him this way, and he doesn’t want to risk his heart. If this is just a rebound fling, or if Jeremy is only interested in Max because he’s convenient, it will not only shatter him—it will ruin the best friendship he’s ever known.
This book is approximately 72,000 words
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Jeremy pulled the metallic door shut on the room that now contained all of his worldly possessions. After fastening the lock, he stared at his big suitcase, wispy strings sticking out of the places it had been shredded by Ryan's cat.
"That cat never liked me," Jeremy said aloud. "That should have been a sign."
"Huh?" said a sweaty guy loading boxes into the adjacent storage unit.
"Nothing. Have a good day!"
He sighed and pulled the handle of the suitcase up, then wheeled it out of the self-storage place, down the sidewalk, and into the subway.
As he waited on the 2 train platform, he tried to tell himself that this was fine. That everything was fine. That getting somewhat unceremoniously dumped by his boyfriend of three years and being told he had two days to move out.. .totally fine. The cliché fight Jeremy'd had with Ryan just hours before while determining which of them owned St. Elmo's Fire on Blu-ray was fine, fine, fine.
It had always been Ryan's apartment, since long before they'd moved in together, so even though Jeremy had paid half the rent, he'd still had to be the one to move out, despite Ryan being one hundred percent at fault because he'd slept with some blond twink who was way too young for him and then hadn't had the courtesy to at least try to cover up his misdeeds.
But Jeremy wasn't mad.
A train pulled up, and he thought about how not mad he was that the man he loved had apparently decided to bring a whole parade of young gentlemen to their shared apartment while he'd been in Boston for a play the previous month, because obviously the relationship had been running on fumes for a while and he'd just been too settled to see it, and Ryan had probably done him a favor.
Except for making him essentially homeless in New York City. Jeremy was a little mad about that.
Thank God for Max. Jeremy got off the train three stops later. He hauled the suitcase up the steps out of the station. At least he had somewhere to go. His best friend lived in one of the new high-rises near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, in a gorgeous, modern, albeit small apartment. Jeremy intended to crash on his sofa just until he could find a new apartment. Two weeks, tops.
Seriously, fuck Ryan. At twenty-eight, he was too old for couch surfing.
Jeremy found himself staring at the entrance to the Barclays Center, the brown architecture swirling in a way that would never not remind him of a poop emoji. He'd lived in this neighborhood BR — before Ryan — just a few blocks from Max's shiny high-rise building, when this monstrosity of a sports arena was being constructed. After years of protests and public meetings arguing that this thing would destroy the neighborhood, everyone walking around it seemed very ho-hum about it now. Jeremy took a moment to get his bearings and gauge how the crisscrossed streets at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues would lead him toward Max's apartment.
He pulled his suitcase through the building's front door a few minutes later and checked in with the doorman, who told him he was expected. When he got to Max's floor, he paused at the door and took a deep breath, pushing down the shame that he even had to take this step, that he hadn't realized how far south things with Ryan had gone, that he hadn't started apartment hunting a month ago when he and Ryan had fought in a way that showed that not only were they not on the same page with their relationship, they weren't even reading the same book.
He should have seen this coming. He hadn't. And now he was standing on the doorstep of his best friend's apartment, asking for help he wished he didn't need.
He knocked on the door.
Max opened it and grinned. Jeremy hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks because they'd both been busy, but apparently Max hadn't been too busy to dye his hair.
"Your hair is pink," Jeremy said by way of greeting.
And it was. Furious, hot, highlighter-pink hair.
Max touched a short tuft of it. "Yeah. A thing I'm trying."
Max dyed his hair often — so often that Jeremy could barely remember what his natural color was — and it had been a whole rainbow of colors, so this shouldn't have been a surprise, but the pink was just so bright.
Jeremy set that aside and wheeled his suitcase into the apartment. "I'm sorry about this."
"Dude. It's no sweat. I told you that you can stay here as long as you need to. Not that I have a ton of space, but mi casa es su casa."
"Thanks. I appreciate it."
"Of course. You hungry? I was thinking about ordering delivery. There's a new poke bowl place on Schermerhorn."
Jeremy wasn't totally sure what a poke bowl was, but he said, "Okay."
And just like that, they were in their familiar rhythm. Jeremy found a spot for his suitcase in a corner of the cramped living room and sat on the sofa while Max rummaged in the kitchen. Really, it was all the same room, with a counter peninsula dividing the space into distinct areas, but Jeremy could see Max opening and closing the refrigerator from his vantage point on the sofa.
"You want to see the menu?" Max asked.
"Order for me. I'll eat whatever. Just no pork."
"Sure. Fish is okay?"
"Yeah, order whatever's good."
While Max fiddled with his phone, Jeremy leaned into the sofa cushions and rested his head on the back. He let out a breath. It was over with Ryan. He was out. Everything he owned that wasn't in his cat-damaged suitcase was in a storage unit on Empire Boulevard. He had a roof over his head tonight. He'd eat whatever food Max was ordering for him, then he'd sleep, then he'd tackle everything else tomorrow.
He felt the sofa dip as Max sat beside him, and Max's shoulder brushed against his. They'd been side by side for years, since they were kids, really. From childhood on the same block in a little town in the Jersey suburbs, to college roommates, to post-college roommates, until Max had decided that maybe it was time they each got their own places. Even after that, they spent a ton of time together — Ryan had always had a lot to say about that.
They trusted each other implicitly, never felt awkward together, knew how each other operated. As he sat on Max's sofa, Jeremy could already feel the tension leaking out of his shoulders.
"Thanks," Jeremy said, sitting up. "For everything. I really appreciate it."
"Of course." Max lifted his arm, put it back down, and then put it on the back of the sofa, as if he was trying to find the proper place for it. "How are you? I mean, really. You sounded pretty upbeat on the phone, but breakups are never easy."
Jeremy sighed. "I don't know. I feel angry more than anything else." Then everything kind of hit him at once. The last couple of fights with Ryan. The sheepish look on Ryan's face as he confessed that he had, in fact, slept with a nineteen-year-old he'd picked up at a bar when Jeremy had been out of town had been one thing. It dawning on Jeremy that Ryan was looking for a way out of the relationship more than he was looking for sex, because Ryan had been the one who'd wanted to be monogamous ... and then Jeremy putting all his stuff in storage, and white-hot rage boiled up in him. He tried to tamp it down so as not to unleash it on his best friend, but he said, "That asshole. We couldn't have a goddamn adult conversation. We couldn't work through our problems like grownups. Instead he banged some guy and let me find out about it so that I'd get mad and dump him, and then he threw me out of the house."
"No, it's fine. I'll be fine." Jeremy rubbed his face. It would be fine, because he'd been thinking about this all day — it had been hard to think about anything else — and it was like watching a documentary that compressed their entire relationship into an hour. Ryan had been friends with an actor Jeremy worked with, and they'd met at a cast party when Jeremy had been in the ensemble of an experimental musical at the Public. Jeremy had been instantly smitten. They'd dated and fallen in love over the course of a year, and when Max had told Jeremy he wanted to get his own place, well, it made perfect sense to move in with Ryan.
"You never liked Ryan," Jeremy said. He turned his head to look at Max.
Max wrinkled his nose. "It's not that I didn't like him ..."
"No, you put up with him fine. But you always had a better creep detector than I did."
Max bit his lip for a long moment before speaking again. "I worried for a while that I pushed you into moving in with him because I wanted my own place."
Jeremy guffawed. Max should have known by now that once Jeremy set his mind on something — such as moving in with his boyfriend — it was basically a done deal. "Are you kidding? You tried to talk me out of moving in with him. You kept saying I should try to find a new roommate to take over your room. No, you didn't push me into anything. Just my own stubbornness, I guess." He shook his head.
"How could he cheat on you, though?"
"Well. I don't think it was about sex, for one thing. My man was satisfied." Jeremy put a little swagger into his arm movements for emphasis.
Max grimaced. "That asshole traded you in for a newer model, didn't he?"
"So I'd catch him and dump his ass. If I'm the dumper, he's the wronged party, even though he's the one who cheated. Or something. God. He is an asshole."
Jeremy stared at Max's TV, currently just a black screen. "Well, it's over now. I can't thank you enough for taking me in."
"I wish I had more space to give you."
"It's bigger than our dorm room was. And, look, you have a bedroom door you can close if you need some alone time with your gentleman callers."
Max laughed softly and shook his head. "Haven't been many gentlemen callers lately."
Jeremy wondered why that was — Max was a good-looking guy, even with the pink hair. Stubble grew in along his chin, and his dark brown facial hair was an odd contrast with the top of his head. So, okay, maybe he wasn't conventionally handsome, but he had striking eyes, a cute face, and a compact body Jeremy found very appealing. And Max could be awkward, but Jeremy found that charming. He'd crushed on Max pretty hard for a hot minute in college, actually, but had moved on; Jeremy valued their friendship too much to risk losing it if they got entangled romantically.
Well, come to think of it, several years ago Max had mumbled something once about having feelings for Jeremy, but had made it pretty clear he just wanted to be friends, so Jeremy had left it there. Max didn't have time for romance, he'd said, because he was building his new business. So Jeremy had taken the compliment, filed that away in the "Might Have Been" filing cabinet and moved on with his life. But, really, Max was a great catch: cute, smart, successful. The whole package. Why weren't men beating his door down?
The buzzer rang. Max hopped up and dashed to the intercom. He stood by the door, waiting for the delivery guy, so Jeremy got up and went to the kitchen to dig through the fridge for a soda.
"What are you feeding me, by the way?"
Max grinned. "The latest hipster food item is the poke bowl. It's a Hawaiian thing, I think. Fish and rice and veggies and sauce. I got raw tuna for you."
Jeremy's mouth watered. "Sounds delicious." He appreciated that Max really did know what Jeremy liked; he loved sushi and raw tuna was an essential food group.
Ryan hated seafood. The last time Jeremy had even been near a sushi restaurant had been during the stint in Boston, and even then, it was hand rolls to go between rehearsals, nothing he could actually savor.
Ugh, Ryan. Putting everything in storage had been a huge pain in the ass, but maybe it was for the best.
Jeremy went back to the living room and sat while Max lingered in the kitchen, extracting dinner from the delivery bags. Jeremy looked up and tried to make eye contact so that he could ask about Max's day, but his new-old roommate seemed intent on his task. For a moment, it seemed like Max was nervous, but that was crazy; they'd hung out like this thousands of times.
Finally Max walked over with a couple of bowls in his hands and the utensils stacked on top. "Take the one on top."
Jeremy obliged and kept an eye on Max, who sat carefully and took the top off his bowl container. "What?" Max asked.
"Nothing." Usually, Jeremy could read Max, but he struggled now. He wondered if they'd been apart for so long they'd lost something. Not that they'd been apart per se, but Jeremy had definitely spent less time with Max since he'd moved in with Ryan. Jeremy felt that distance.
One more reason to curse Ryan's name.
Still, Max smiled, his grin broad and handsome, a bit of the old Max Jeremy had always known showing through. "Well, welcome to my tiny home. We don't have turndown service. There won't be mints on your pillow. But we make up for it with charm."
Jeremy laughed. "All right, then. This will be fun."
Jeremy wasn't wearing a shirt.
Max got up the next morning and had almost forgotten about his houseguest until he saw Jeremy sitting on the sofa, half naked, his long body arched over his laptop.
Years of dance classes had left Jeremy with an exquisitely carved body. He was on the thin side, not bulky or beefy, but his muscles were well defined. Max knew from seeing every play and musical Jeremy had ever appeared in that for such a tall man — Jeremy was around six foot, two inches, a good six inches taller than Max — he was surprisingly light on his feet.
Jeremy was so fucking beautiful. It made Max's heart ache just to look at him sometimes. Especially now that he might as well have been naked, with just an old afghan thrown across his hips maintaining his dignity.
"Hey. Good morning."
Max had to work to respond. "Uh. Yeah. Morning." He walked down the hall to the bathroom and splashed water on his face, trying to calm down.
This was why Max had gotten his own place. He'd forgotten the acute pain of living with someone he loved more than anyone else in the world and not having that love returned. He'd almost said no when Jeremy had called him, but he couldn't leave Jeremy homeless.
Once he felt like he had a handle on his emotions — and his body — he walked back out to the living room. Tinny music came out of Jeremy's laptop.
"It's audition season and I need a new song," Jeremy said.
Max stepped into his kitchen and looked at Jeremy from across the counter peninsula, and started futzing with bowls while he decided what he wanted to eat. "What did you do last season?"
"'Gethsemane' from Jesus Christ Superstar. I picked it to show off my range." Jeremy preened. He had a bit of Broadway diva in him, even without ever having landed a starring role. "But my agent thinks it's too over the top. I was thinking about something from Dear Evan Hansen. I love 'You Will Be Found' but it doesn't have the same impact without the ensemble singing. Maybe 'Waving Through a Window.' That's more of a soliloquy." Jeremy stared at his laptop and softly sang a few lines, then burst into the chorus, throwing his whole body into it.
His voice. God, Jeremy's voice. It was so lovely, so powerful, a rich tenor that flowed over Max like caramel. When he sang the "Ooooh" part at the end of the chorus, a shiver went up Max's spine.
"Do that," Max said.
"Yeah? I'll run it by my agent. He says he's got a big audition for me on Monday. Some new musical that takes place in a high school." Jeremy turned toward Max and grinned. "He wants me to audition for the lead. According to the notes he sent me, the character is a junior dealing with some undefined personal problems." "You want to play a high school junior? You're twenty-eight."
Jeremy scoffed. "You don't think I have a young face?" Jeremy had a beautiful face, but he definitely did not look like a teenager. "Sure, but I don't think you could pull off sixteen. No offense."
Jeremy waved his hand dismissively. "An actual squeaky-voiced sixteen-year-old wouldn't have the vocal chops for a leading man role on Broadway. Besides, you know better than anyone the miracles makeup can achieve."
"I could totally look sixteen."
Max chuckled, because it just wasn't possible. Jeremy's body was too ... developed. Max had known Jeremy when he'd been a skinny, stretched-out teenage boy, and Jeremy barely resembled that kid anymore. Max didn't resemble his old self, either; his genetic tendency toward being barrel-shaped like his father had started to assert itself. Max wasn't looking forward to his thirties and trying to prove to the gay population of New York that he was an exciting prospect.
Then again, what had Anthony said? You've given so much of your heart to Jeremy, there's not enough left for anyone else.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "See The Light"
Copyright © 2019 Erin O'Brien.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Friends to Lovers; one of my favorite romance tropes. I loved this new book by Kate McMurray. See the Light is a great friends-to-lovers story with just the right amount of angst. Max and Jeremy have been best friends for years. Both of them have careers connected to the theater. Max has a thriving business doing make-up for Broadway shows and he isn't afraid to flaunt his personal style. Jeremy loves doing musical theater and is just waiting for his big break and get the lead in a Broadway show. Max has always been afraid to let Jeremy know that he has romantic feelings for him. Every time he thinks about telling him something happens and the timing doesn't seem right. Now Jeremy needs a place to crash and it's killing Max to have him so near every day. Jeremy really isn't that upset that his boyfriend broke up with him. He's more upset about being tossed out of the apartment they shared. Now that he's staying with Max, he's beginning to see him in a different light and wonders why he never thought of him as a love interest before. I love a good friends-to-lovers story and See the Light hit the spot. I also love everything about musicals – movies and stage shows – so I really enjoyed reading all of the things in the book that gave me an inside look into this world; I found it fascinating and a bonus to a great romance story. I look forward to reading more books by Kat McMurray. A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley but this did not influence my opinion or rating of the book. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***
4.5 stars for this friends to lovers romance. This was a super slooooow burn. It wasn't until a third of the way into the book before these two even share a kiss. There is tons of background and insight into their jobs. I applauded Max for being brave enough to speak up, but his inability to grab ahold of the happiness Jeremy is offering frustrated me. Jeremy's honesty was refreshing. He didn't hold back on what he was feeling until Max pulled away and threw up roadblocks. The ending was really sweet.
3.5 stars- See the Light is a standalone best friends-to-lovers romance. I always have a soft spot for this trope, so I went in really excited and hopeful for an upbeat book chock full of chemistry. To some extent I got that, but this one didn’t quite grab me as much as I’d expected. See the Light starts off really strong, with childhood best friends unexpectedly sharing a studio apartment following a sudden break-up. I liked both characters immediately and loved the premise of a theater make-up artist paired with a theater actor as they try to land that career-defining gig on Broadway. Their close knit bond was evident from the start, as were Max’s unrequited feelings for Jeremy. Unfortunately, when things shifted between the men and moved into more-than-friends territory, the chemistry felt lacking and forced. The emotional angst took hold at that point and seemed more drawn out than necessary, inevitably pulling down the tone of the book. Happily, as the plot progressed and conflicts resolved, things came together and felt more natural to me. Overall, See the Light was a good story with great characters. I’ll definitely continue to be on the lookout for more from this author, but this title wasn’t quite all I hoped for when I read the blurb. *Reviewed for Alpha Book Club via Netgalley*
3.5 stars--SEE THE LIGHT by Kate McMurray is a contemporary, adult, M/M erotic, romance story line focusing on twenty-eight year olds, Broadway actor, singer and dancer Jeremy Reynolds, and makeup artist Max Meyer. NOTE: SEE THE LIGHT contains scenes of M/M sexual situations that may not be suitable for all readers. Told from dual third person perspectives (Jeremy and Max) SEE THE LIGHT follows the friends to lovers relationship between Broadway actor, singer and dancer Jeremy Reynolds, and makeup artist Max Myer. Max Meyer has been in love with his best friend since childhood, a best friend who recently broke up with his long-term boyfriend. Needing a place to crash, Max offered Jeremy a place to stay, in an effort to get closer to the man that he loved. Jeremy auditions for several show buy is eventually offered the lead in a new Broadway play; Max finds himself the makeup artist and designer for a couple of big productions. With both of their careers climbing the ladder of success, emotions and issues of trust begin to tear them apart. What ensues is the building romance and sexual relationship between Jeremy and Max, and the fall-out as Max struggles with feelings of inadequacy as it pertains to Jeremy, and the potential of losing his best friend forever it things fall apart. Max Meyer loves Jeremy Reynolds but Jeremy’s star is on the rise, and time apart means too many hours, for Max, to contemplate what might go wrong. Max’s angst and emotional drama begins to eat away of his own self-esteem, and thusly his relationship with the man that he loves. Jeremy has fallen for his best friend, a friend he saw more as a brother. With Max’s revelations of a life-long love, Jeremy finds himself looking towards the future, a future that is in jeopardy as Max struggles between head and heart. The relationship between Max and Jeremy is a best friends to lovers romance wherein Max battles the ‘what ifs and whys’. Struggling to accept that Jeremy loves him in return, Max begins to sabotage their relationship in the hopes of saving a lifelong friendship. The $ex scenes are intimate, passionate and intense. The colorful secondary and supporting characters include the cast of the Broadway production of See the Light, as well as a number of ‘drag queens’ and friends of Jeremy and Max. Max is the makeup artist to the wanna-be stars, a group of drag queens hoping to make it big and launch their careers. The world building spotlights the Great White Way-the Broadway hits of the past and present; the musicals, the actors, the hits and the misses. We are backstage as Max Meyer develops his artistic designs, and Jeremy Reynolds prepares for the role of his life. SEE THE LIGHT is a story of friendship, love, uncertainty, and miscommunication. The premise is emotional and heart breaking; the characters are wounded, sassy and spirited; the romance is arousing and provocative. I had an issue with the inordinate amount of Broadway musical information and history, reflection and contemplation which reads like filler more than anything else.
I enjoyed this Broadway-focused, friends-to-lovers romance. I learned a lot about the behind the scenes ins and outs of Broadway while getting lost in the slow burn romance between Jeremy and Max. I appreciated that this story wasn't an information dump, but seamlessly incorporated the characters' jobs and interests. Max was my favorite of the two, by far, and he makes some pretty tough decisions. He's so sweet and unaware of his effect on Jeremy. Though Jeremy is late to the party, no thanks so his ungrateful ex, he finally gets there and it's magical.