I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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I do like books with older MCs, and books about getting a second chance at love.
This book promised both, so I was eager to read it when it became available. And while I enjoyed reading it, and while I liked the plot, and Hans, I had some trouble connecting with Malcolm.
On one hand, I understood his reluctance to open himself up to another chance at love, after having lost his long-term partner, David, and I understood his misgivings about his attraction to Hans because of their age gap (Malcolm is in his 50s, and Hans in his early 40s). When we first meet Malcolm, he's still lost in his grief and mourning, struggling even after nearly two years of sort of living without David. He doesn't go out, he more or less hides himself in his work as a tax attorney and in the house he shared with David. When he meets Hans, he's immediately attracted to the younger man, but tells himself to ignore it because Hans is a client.
Until Hans isn't.
On the other hand, Malcolm's near-constant second-guessing Hans' motives and sincerity, and his 'one step forward, two steps back' self-pity drove me batty. Once Hans stops being a client, their business dealing being concluded, Malcolm starts to enter the world of the living again, but guilt and grief keeps pulling him back. And as if that weren't enough to derail his second chance at love, Malcolm is also plagued by insecurities when he compares himself to the younger man. If Hans hadn't been so very patient, I think by the end of the book, the status quo wouldn't have changed much for Malcolm.
I'm a bit indifferent about the plot point involving Malcolm's firm, and the OTT characterization of his business partner who basically goes off the deep end. I'm not sure that it added anything to the romance, though it could be argued that he's perhaps part of Malcolm learning to trust himself and getting past his insecurities. Still, he couldn't have done that without Hans pushing him forward on occasion, and providing him with the confidence.
There is growth for Malcolm here, and I always appreciate that in a book. The author has a distinctive writing style, and while it may not work for everyone, it does usually work for me. I think having these detailed descriptions of everyday activities, such as getting out of bed, and making breakfast, only drove home how very lonely Malcolm is at the beginning of the book, how settled into a routine that showcases the depth of his grief. As the book moved along, I noticed that these mundane moments were getting less detailed and descriptive, and the focus shifted to more of a hopeful, exciting tone overall. Which basically mirrored Malcolm's transformation from grieving widower, trudging through his day, to hopeful boyfriend, looking forward to what the future holds. While it's made very clear that Hans isn't taking David's place in Malcolm's heart, the author also makes a point that love after love is possible. That nobody can replace David, but that Malcolm didn't die with him, and that David wouldn't want him to be the recluse he's been for two years.
As I said, life after loss plays a huge role in this book, and I think the author did a great job showing me how very difficult it is for Malcolm to move on and grasp that second chance. Hans was very patient, but insistent as well, finding all the right words to get what he wanted in the end, namely Malcolm. He was possibly a wee bit too perfect, but I didn't mind that so much.
Recommended for readers who like second chances, mature MCs, and sweet M/M romances with just a bit of heat.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **