I did read the reviews here that talked about how unlikable and manipulative both of the MCs were, and I chose to read this anyway. Why? Because one of the MCs is a librarian, and that fascinated me. The interesting thing is that I ended up not liking the librarian.
There were a couple of things I didn't like about this one. First, Val and Adrian are introduced to us as having been friends ever since they were roommates in college freshman year. That claim was proven to be both more and less than the truth. I don't know if you could give the label of "friends" to people who only see each other once a week for a haircut, during which time one of them talks incessantly (and apparently in great detail...) about his boyfriends while the other stays silent. And having Adrian have to write his cell number on a business card so that Val could have it? What friends don't have each others' phone numbers? Very weird.
I started out totally hating Val. That phone call with Derek made him look exactly like the shallow person we were supposed to believe he was. As we found out more about his story, though, and understood WHY he did the things that he did 10 years ago, I really came to like him. Enough that i totally want to wrap him up and keep him safe from getting hurt like that again.
And Adrian. Ugh, Adrian. At first while reading this, i figured the "unlikable" applied to Val and the "manipulative" applied to Adrian. It was only as i kept reading that i found out they both applied to Adrian. i think the fact that he needed to justify his actions toward val even to himself makes it pretty clear that he was doing something wrong. If you have to tell yourself things like "I'm still me, I'm just enhancing certain parts of my personality," (or whatever his exact words were) maybe you need to reevaluate your situation.
I understand that Adrian was doing everything he felt was necessary in order to get Val to see him as a potential love-interest again. I understand that in his mind it was with Val's best interest in mind. I just don't like the way he came across.