I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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This was a sweet romance about one MC getting a second chance at love and leaving his ivory tower, and the other MC learning that his worth isn't in his wealth or lack thereof, but in what he offers the first MC - love, companionship, challenging perspectives, and honesty.
Darwin Kinkade is very wealthy, but lonely and lost in his grief after his long-time lover Dean died a few years ago from cancer. He spends his days working at his company, and some of his evenings ogling the hot server at Asiago's, an upscale restaurant he frequents.
Until his hot server has been replaced by another hot server, one who disarms him with honesety, engages him in conversation, and begins to pull Darwin out of his self-imposed prison.
Ricky Donnelly has a knack for working with people, and while he thinks of himself as just a lowly server, he does enjoy his job for the most part, enjoys making people feel welcome and special while they're at the restaurant. He doesn't let Darwin's rudeness get to him, but instead challenges him and even offers up his own favorite thing to eat.
Darwin has never really had a friend who didn't work for him, or was as wealthy, and he is still grieving Dean's death. However, Ricky intrigues him.
They're a bit of a mismatch at first look, but as the story unfolds, it's very obvious that Ricky is exactly what Darwin needs. And vice versa.
They begin to date, but Darwin keeps his money a secret from Ricky, dodging and hedging whenever Ricky asks about his job and such. It's obvious that Darwin has more money, but the full extent isn't known to Ricky at first. Their first date outside of Asiago's is startling to Ricky, and begins to sow the seeds of doubt and conflict, but their attraction is strong, and they keep going, getting closer and more intimate with each subsequent date.
Until Darwin comes clean and Ricky is confronted with the truth, which then triggers the real conflict.
I enjoyed reading this book very much. The author created complex characters, not only in Darwin and Ricky, but also in the supporting cast. There are some really old loyalties at play as well, what with Darwin's driver/best friend/first kiss, and Darwin's cook/housekeeper, who both treat him like family more so than their employer. Darwin's brother and SIL also offer support when he most needs it.
Ricky too has supportive family, especially in his mother, who counsels him when Ricky is overwhelmed and scared off by Darwin's wealth, and worried that as a poor server he has nothing much to offer the other man. He won't let Darwin pay for much, and he won't let Darwin get him a new job either, too proud and self-sufficient, perhaps rightly so, to allow himself to be a "kept" man.
There's some drama, of course, and some of Darwin's reactions seemed a wee bit far-fetched, but I could see how desperate Darwin was to keep Ricky, to do whatever he had to do to keep him in his life, even if it came at great cost to himself, because he credits Ricky with bringing him back to life.
I would have liked to knock Ricky over the head a couple of times toward the end, but he did pull his head out of his ass soon enough to spare him. While I understood his reasons to some extent, I thought that he reacted pretty badly, instead of looking at the bigger picture and seeing what he truly brought to the relationship. That what had started to bloom between them was worth so much more than all the money in the world.
An engaging, sweet and cute romance, one I would recommend.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **