I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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This short story, at 55 pages on my Nook, is not about a HEA, but about the possibilities.
Steve is in his mid-forties, and still reeling from a betrayal two years ago, when his then-lover cheated on him with a younger man. A self-employed legal advisor, he spends most of his days working, and occasionally meeting up with friends.
During high winds, Steve's house is hit by a toppled tree, which punches a hole into his roof. A call to his friend Dale gets him in touch with Riley, a building contractor and chatty Cathy, who expertly begins to take care of the roof.
What ensues is a romantic dance of should I, shouldn't I, with tons of UST and some excellent writing skills, that explored both characters as well as the length of this novella allowed. Both are a little gun-shy, both have experienced pain, but what seems to hold back Steve the most is the age difference.
Riley comes across as a really likable guy, caring for his father without complaint, and generally a nice person, who cares about others, but appears to be afraid to make the first move with Steve. He seemed realistic in his hesitations (at least as one can discern, considering the entire novella is written in Steve's POV, who isn't an entirely reliable narrator), and while he sends no obvious (to Steve) signals, it's clear there's some interest there.
Steve is unsure, not only of himself, but also of Riley's signals, almost afraid to read too much into the younger man's winks and words. Afraid to reach out and ask for what he wants, even when the reader can see that the younger man is interested. There's a lot of UST the author brings across quite well, and much lingering heat when the book ends, far too soon for my liking.
I wouldn't classify this as a HFN either, to be honest. It's more of a short view into how two people met and started on their journey to a relationship. At the end, the reader is left to imagine what might be.
3.75 stars, rounded up. Very well written for a short, with good character development and backstories, and a rather hopeful ending.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **