Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short novel
Two years after the death of his long-time partner, Tony Teagan is still getting over the loss. Each day gets better, but he still misses having Devyn in his life. Tony hasn’t had much interest in anyone else since Devyn’s death, so he is surprised to find himself drawn to the young delivery man at his door one night.
Brandon is immediately attracted to the sexy man who answers the door, but dropping off food doesn’t give them much chance to talk. But then fate intervenes when they run into each other once more the next day. And even more when Tony offers Brandon a job modeling for his company. Tony knows what it is like to be young and struggling. Devyn was 13 years older than Tony, and in the early part of their relationship really helped Tony get on his feet. For some reason Tony feels very drawn to Brandon and wants to help him out the same way.
With Brandon working for him, Tony doesn’t intend to take things any further. He is not even sure he is ready for more, though he is surprised by the strong attraction he feels for Brandon. Brandon for his part is totally hot for Tony, though he worries Tony just sees him as a kid. But when the two decide to have a no-strings weekend together, it becomes clear that there is more between them than either expected. And when the weekend is over, they must each risk a little to take a chance on finding love.
So I will admit to you all right here that this is a book I picked up almost purely because I loved the cover. Yes, I have read one of DeRicci’s books before and enjoyed it. And the blurb definitely got my interest, especially the age difference aspect. But really, what grabbed me and refused to let go was the cover. The pose, the look on Brandon’s face, it all just had so much energy and exuberance I hoped translated into the story.
There ended up being a lot that worked for me here. Brandon and Tony are sweet guys and really good people. Tony knows what it is like to struggle as a young man, and even before he has a romantic interest in Brandon, he wants to help him make it. He sees Brandon struggling with two jobs to make ends meet and finish college and he knows he can help him. I could feel for Tony as he is still recovering from his devastating loss. He has just reached the place where the pain isn’t quite as raw, where he can start to imagine being with someone again. And he feels an immediate and surprising attraction to Brandon. For his part, Brandon is so hard working, so determined to succeed, despite being tossed out by his parents and forced to fend for himself. The men are very sweet together and both likable individually. And I enjoyed the idea of Tony finding love again, especially with this young man who at first glance wouldn’t seem like a fit, but turns out to be just right.
I think my biggest issue with the book is that it just felt a bit too insubstantial. Things roll nicely along, but there isn’t much meat here. The first half of the book mostly focuses on Brandon starting his job modeling and each man being hot for one another. Although they interact, I never felt they were really getting to know one another or building anything between them. The second half of the book things move physical with their weekend together. But again, it just felt a little flat to me. We basically get one sex scene and the rest of the weekend fades to black. We never see things developing emotionally for them at all. So when ultimately they have feelings for one another and are ready to jump into the HEA, it seems less believable. There is nothing really bad happening here and it is a nice story, just not enough to really give it much weight or intensity.
My only other small complaint is that I had to roll my eyes a bit at the idea of Brandon as a cover model for Tony’s publishing company. Tony publishes m/m romance, among other things, and he hires Brandon to be in their stable of cover models. Tony makes a point about how it is more cost effective for them to have their own in-house models than buy stock images or hiring for the day. Not only that, but he can pay Brandon enough from a shoot or two a week to more than compensate for the other two jobs he was working. Really? I know I am being nitpicky here and maybe I am way off base (and please correct me if I am), but it just seemed so unrealistic that it threw me out of things for a while. I mean there has to be a reason that just about no romance publishers work this way. Yes, there are some, and yes more are hiring real models. But to say it is cheaper than a stock photo? Hard to accept.
So I was mixed on this one. I liked the set up, liked the guys, and loved the cover. But the story just felt too light and lacking enough depth to really make a strong connection with me. But still a nice pleasant story and worth reading if the description pushes your buttons.