painting in the rainRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Mike has taken a job working with at-risk kids in a small Oregon coastal town for the summer. One of his toughest kids is Trevor who has been acting out, especially with girls.  When Mike goes to talk to Trevor’s dad about the problem, he is immediately struck by the gorgeous Gabe.  The men feel a connection immediately, but things are complicated by Trevor.  Gabe and his wife Carol divorced when Gabe came out and now Trevor is angry and resentful. He is angry enough that Gabe is gay, and is furious at the idea of him getting involved with someone from town.

Gabe is committed to being there for his son, unlike his own father was. But he is also not willing to give up Mike, and the two begin seeing one another.  But Trevor isn’t the only one angry about their relationship. Others are out to stir up trouble, especially when Mike tries to help Evan, another one of his at-risk kids who is clearly gay and being abused.  Even if Gabe and Mike can get past the challenges with Trevor, they still must figure out who is trying to harm them before they are really in trouble.

So I’d say this book goes in two different directions, one that I loved and one that didn’t work as well for me. The best part of this story to me was the relationship with Mike and Gabe.  First off, I loved both of them and found them such a good match.  Both are sweet, caring, wonderful guys.  The connection between them is instant and the sparks fly right away. There is a slight age difference between them and I loved the interplay of the young, hot Mike with the older Gabe, tan and work hardened with his blow torch and wild long hair.  They were both sweet and romantic together, as well as incredibly sexy.

I am not always a fan of kids in my stories but I really liked how Bentham works in Trevor here. Trevor is 15 and had his world turned around by his parent’s divorce. Things are made worse by the fact that in a small town, everyone knows his parents divorced because Gabe is gay, and it is hard for Trevor to handle.  So he acts out in anger toward Gabe, is womanizing and disrespectful, all clearly in an attempt to show others that he is not gay like his dad.  Things aren’t helped by Gabe’s ex Carol who is still resentful towards him (even though she knew he was gay when they married) and is poisoning things with her son.  Trevor’s behavior makes perfect sense for his age, and I like that there isn’t a quick fix to this problem, but something the men must work on throughout the story. I would have liked to see a bit more resolution toward the end, but I still think this was handled well.

The part of the story that didn’t work as well for me was the suspense angle.  The book focuses primarily on Gabe and Mike, the future of their relationship, handling issues with Trevor, etc. Then suddenly there is a suspense plot thrown in with a big bad guy and near death experiences.  Part of my issue is that I just didn’t feel the book needed this extra plot, as there were so many excellent story lines already in play and this was just a distraction to me.  It took time away from other things that are set up but never really fully developed, like the fact that Mike’s boss is also Gabe’s former lover for whom he came out.  That would have been really interesting to explore, but doesn’t really go anywhere.  But the biggest problem is that this subplot just seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly we have a murderous sociopath on our hands.  And almost as quickly things are resolved. So I didn’t really like this angle and wished things had stayed more focused on the relationship aspect since there was so much interesting going on there.

I continue to love Bentham’s writing and think this was another really good story.  I loved Gabe and Mike together and there is such warmth and loveliness to their relationship (oh, and the phone sex was crazy hot). I wished for more focus on them and less on the thriller plot, but overall I found this another enjoyable story by this author and one that I would recommend.


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