Hmm... Not sure where to start with this one, so I'm gonna fall back on the trusty What I Liked and What Didn't Work for me categories.
What I Liked
Honestly, the quality of the writing is the only thing that kept me going at certain points, so I think that has to go first.
But what I liked most about this story was that it managed to surprise me. So many of the stories I read are formulaic to the point of predictability, so being surprised was a nice, well, surprise. I did find it odd how affectionate and romantic Mitch and Eric were with each other in spite of their intentions of only being fuck buddies. But the truth is that the scenes with them together (especially at the pool hall!) were so light and happy compared with the angst and seriousness of much of the rest of the book that I found myself rooting for them even before I figured out the end.
I also really liked Eric's character. I liked that he was willing to be what Mitch needed, and that he was patient enough to allow Mitch space to figure out what he needed.
What Didn't Work for Me
Hmm... how to phrase this... I was raised Mormon. I lived in Utah for 10 years. So reading a story set in Utah in which entire communities all attend the same church on Sunday, I kindof automatically assume they're Mormons. And that assumption wasn't ruled out until we actually accompany the characters to church, which wasn't until at least 50%. So for the whole first half of the book, characters are serving each other coffee and beer and joking about sex with fiancees, and every time, EVERY time, I was pulled out of the story, wondering if the author had ever MET a Mormon to even know that those things would never happen.
I was relieved when I discovered they're not supposed to be Mormon, but by the time we're shown that, it was honestly so late in the book, that while I was relieved, I was still annoyed.
I'm honestly just confused as to why the whole church thing was even in the book. It wasn't like it was a big part of the plot (the way it was in [b:Between Sinners and Saints|10835196|Between Sinners and Saints |Marie Sexton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1303765658s/10835196.jpg|17436754], for example). The carnival whatever thing with the teaching the kids to rope could have happened anywhere at any time. And there was no discussion of how religion affected anyone's opinion of Mitch's coming out. It really just didn't need to be there. And having it there detracted so much from the story that I nearly stopped reading several times.
I also didn't really like Cohen very much. Scenes with him in them were just so depressing and felt oppressive and dark. Perhaps that's why I was able to actually appreciate that Mitch didn't end up with him in the end... Eric was just so much more fun to read about, and he seemed to make Mitch so much happier.
Overall, though, this was an interesting read. I'm not sure I'd want to read it again, but I think I'm glad I read it through this time, if only for the delightful experience of having an ending surprise me.