A cozy, touching read about two hurting men that find life is offering them both a second chance if they’re willing to try for it. It’s a gentle, deceptive plot in that things are more complicated than they seem at first glance. I enjoyed delving into the richly drawn characters and their lives and was actually a little disappointed when it was time to bid them good-bye.
Stuart has been lost in his grief over the accidental death of his partner and love of his life. He is just existing until the day his dad contacts him and shares that he has met someone. Stuart meets the lovely, kind and vivacious Isabelle and feels a pang of envy that his widowed father has found someone new. Not long after his first meeting, he is contacted by Isabelle’s son wanting to vet out Stuart’s dad.
Paul hasn’t been at his best while anxiously waiting for Ben, his boyfriend, to respond to his multiple texts, messages and letter and he reacts when the son of his mother’s new interest says something pointed about Ben at the end of their meet-up. He knows he overreacted to Stuart’s observation about Ben leaving him dangling because he suspects it’s true just as Stuart was pretty sensitive about talking about his dead partner. So they both apologize and try again.
A few times of getting together and one memorable night of passion make them both feel like things are progressing well until Paul hears from Ben finally. Emotions and stress cause some strong, regrettable words that send both men away from each other to do some hard thinking. Stuart must separate from his past and Paul must choose what he really wants or rather who he wants.
This was a pleasant story and I found it was well written and engaged me. Stuart and Paul take turns doing the narration and this was good. I confess that I preferred Stuart because in spite of his need to work through his grief and rejoin the land of the living, he felt calmer and more level-headed even if he tended to let the deceased Mark come between him and Paul a lot. Paul was tougher to like, but not unlikeable. He was so prickly and ready to give and take offense. I held my breath during the crisis point when he had the temptation to string along both men. I still wonder what he would have chosen to do if Stuart hadn’t pushed him to be honest about what was on his mind. In that sense, they were great for each other. Paul pushed Stuart to let go of Mark and Stuart did the same with Paul in regard to Ben. The story wasn’t long and left things off on a happy for now note. It was right and realistic that things were left tenuous and at a new beginning since stuff like what these guys were dealing with did not just resolve and disappear over night. Personally, I would have loved an epilogue to give a peek-in much later to see where time and a maturing relationship took them.
In the end, it was a lovely story about healing and second chances. Those who enjoy a gentler, sweeter m/m contemporary romance should try this one.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.