Tied Together is my first book by Z.B. Heller, but I couldn't wait to read this one. It is a standalone novel featuring Ryan Keller, who was introduced in Heller's Chronicles of Moxie series. You do not need to have read those books before starting this one, and I had no problems understanding anything in this story. Being my first Heller book, I really didn't have any idea of what to expect here. I did enjoy a lot about this book, but there were also several things that I had trouble with as well.
Ryan Keller and Brandon Ford became best friends in high school, despite their differences. While Ryan was raised in a supportive and loving family that never struggled for money, Brandon was raised the exact opposite. He was so far in the closet that Ryan didn't even know that he was interested in him as anything more than a friend. But the night of their graduations things changed when Brandon kissed him. But Brandon wasn't ready to acknowledge who he really was, and things went back to just being friends for them. Once in college though, things once again come to a head as Brandon finds himself finally starting to embrace who he is and what he wants. But even though he is finally able to admit to himself what he wants, coming out to everyone he knows is another story altogether.
I really loved Ryan's confidence and how comfortable he was with himself. He was charming and protective of those he cared about. His family was always there for him, and at first glance he had the picture perfect life. But he also had flaws, and he was very selfish at times too. He thought about what he wanted and how things were for him, while giving little thought to others and their experiences. I wish that he had been a bit more understanding and caring when it came to others. He made a huge mistake and it was one that really made me angry. It completely changed everything, and I found it hard to ever fully forgive him for it. Brandon was shy and reserved, and he was used to being bullied both at home and in school. I felt bad for him and all that he went through, which is why I loved when Ryan entered his life and gave him someone that was finally on his side. He was so strong and smart though, and seeing him achieve the success he did despite everything was something that I absolutely loved. He deserved happiness and to be successful, and I was really happy with where he ended up. These two had a strong connection built on a great foundation and years of friendship, and the chemistry between them was never a question. I do wish that some things had been different though as I felt like Ryan handled things poorly more than once.
Another thing that kept me from rating this one higher was the fact that this was split into three parts, and I felt like it gave this book a disjointed feel. We go from seeing these two in high school, to then in college, and finally years later when they have both been apart for years. While we do get a bit of what they had been through in the time between the gaps in conversations and thoughts, much of that time was glossed over and felt like it was missing. I wanted to know more of what they had each been through to make them the men that they had become. I also felt like there were a few things that were a bit over the top as well, and while I found some of them funny, some of them were just a bit too much for me. Moxie was definitely over the top, and I am not sure that I would want to read her story after seeing how crazy she is here. While she had her moments, I almost felt like she was bordering on ridiculous and I think that a whole book or series of her would just irritate me. It was bad enough here with Ryan's angel and devil on his shoulders throughout offering commentary on his life as Brad Pitt and Steve Buscemi. So while I did like Ryan and Brandon together and they definitely had some hot moments, there were some things that just didn't really work for me. The ending was satisfying though and I did like where things were left here. I think that if you are looking for an entertaining and a bit over the top M/M story, that you might give this one a chance.
**ARC Provided by Gossip Girls PR**