strong enoughRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Spencer Derdinger is a fairly shy, quiet, mathematics professor. At thirty-eight and on the small side, Spencer doesn’t consider himself much of a catch.  But that doesn’t stop him from ogling a certain hot construction worker outside his window.  So Spencer is shocked when the object of his lust seeks him out one day as he is leaving work.

Emilio Sanchez noticed Spencer two weeks ago and hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him. Watching the shy professor steal glances out of his office window just fuels Emilio’s desire to meet him.  Even though Emilio is only 22, working construction in the family business has made him mature for his years and he has his sights set on Spencer. When Emilio is finally able to meet Spencer, he makes his move and lets his interest be known.

Although Spencer is shocked that this gorgeous young man seems to want him, he knows better than to pass on an opportunity like this. Emilio is tall, sexy, muscular, and hot as hell.  So despite this being far outside his usual comfort zone, Spencer invites Emilio home for a night of sex.

What Spencer soon finds even more amazing than Emilio’s attraction to him, is how wonderful a guy Emilio is, and how clearly he wants more than just a hook up.  After watching Spencer for weeks, Emilio is determined for more with him and believes they can have a real relationship.  When circumstances lead to Emilio moving in while helping to renovate Spencer’s house, the men enter pretty much an instant relationship that surprisingly works for both of them, despite moving so fast.  Spencer finds Emilio so caring and kind with a protective streak to go along with his insanely hot body.  And Emilio loves Spencer’s maturity and intelligence and finds him incredibly attractive.  But Spencer has had a difficult past that continues to haunt him, even as he is thrilled in his relationship with Emilio. He must find a way to put it all behind him so that he pursue his future with the man he has grown to love.

So this second installment of Cardeno C’s Family series is sweet and syrupy and romantic (and oh so incredibly sexy).  It is a book for when you want to feel good, filled with people who are happy and mushily in love.  There is conflict, but it is fairly mild and most of the book focuses on Spencer and Emilio and how much they want and love each other.  And sometimes that kind of story is exactly what I want, and as a result, I really loved this book.  Yes, it is full of instalove to an insane degree. Spencer and Emilio meet and hook up one night and Emilio basically never leaves.  They are willing to move in together (for the purposes of Emilio doing the renovations, but clearly that is not the main incentive) after hardly knowing each other more than a few hours. So yeah, this is fast.  And adding to that is the fact that Emilio is incredibly sensitive and caring, the perfect man for the more reticent Spencer. And Spencer, despite being older, quieter, and more shy, is exactly what this young sexy hunk wants.  So yes, you are going to have to swallow all that down for this to work.  And honestly, I am not sure why here it didn’t bother me a bit, and other books it makes me crazy. I think it is just because this is that type of story, mushy and sweet and romantic, and the immediate care and devotion just worked for me.

One of my favorite tropes in my romance are stories with age gaps.  I love that sense of one partner caring for the other and exposing him to new things that comes from more life (and sexual) experience.  What I really loved here is how the author turns that around.  Emilio, despite being much younger, is actually the caretaker here.  He is more experienced sexually, but also just a nuturer by nature.  He is so doting, so gentle and caring with Spencer as he deals with his emotional issues from the past.  And with that support, Spencer is able to work through things that scared him and to gain an inner strength to help deal with both the scars and the baggage from his past. These guys were just so sweet together and I just loved them.

I also really enjoyed Emilio’s family, full of big, burly brothers and a sister.  While Spencer has been largely ignored by his own parents and sibling, the Sanchez clan are incredibly close.  They own a business together and Emilio’s siblings are his best friends.  We can see clearly how Emilio became the person he is, as the love and support of his family is such a part of him and something that he is able to share with Spencer. I loved seeing the way they interact and how they so quickly accept Spencer and bring him into the family. There is such a playfulness and banter between the siblings that brings a lot of fun into the story.  I would love to see more of them and am holding out the teeniest bit of hope one of them might be future story fodder.

I think my only real issue here is with the conflict.  Spencer has some trauma in his past that complicates his sexual relationship with Emilio. I thought this was really interesting to explore, especially as Emilio is such a sexual person. I enjoyed seeing how the two men work through this together and would have loved to see more focus on this throughout the story. Instead the conflict somewhat shifts to Spencer and his ex-boyfriend, who is a total jerk.  This felt a little too tacked on for me though, as Peter sort of appears out of nowhere, wanting Spencer back.  It is never clear why this happens so suddenly, this desperate desire to get back together. We never really learn what is going on here, and there is not even the slightest threat that Spencer wants to get back together with Peter, nor that Emilio will be jealous, or any of that.  So this whole subplot takes over some time at the end, but never really felt fully developed or like it was going anywhere to me.

That issue aside, I really did love this story.  As I said, this is full on instalove. These guys are basically living together after one night and never look back.  But for some reason the sweetness here just totally worked for me. Not to mention the incredibly sexiness (this author definitely knows how to bring on the heat). I loved Spencer and Emilio together and really enjoyed this book a lot.  Definitely recommended, especially when you want something warm, sweet, sexy, and low on the angst.

P.S. This book is the second in the Family series, but as with most of the author’s other series, they do not need to be read in order.  There is no connection plotwise I found with the first book other than the fact that Emilio is related to Asher from Something in the Way he Needs.  But Asher is only mentioned in passing and I couldn’t even tell which story would take place first timing wise.  So no worries about which one you read first.

Cover Review: Another beautiful cover  and I like how the models actually look like they could be Spencer and Emilio.  It also works so nicely with the other book in the series.