Second HelpingsRating: 3.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

One year ago, Stuart’s partner, Mark, died in a car accident. Life as Stuart knew it ended as well. Stuart’s father, who is a widower, has even moved on with a new love, Isabel. Stuart, however, cannot seem to bring himself to try to move on past Mark’s death.

After meeting Isabel for the first time, Stuart gets a phone call from Paul, Isabel’s son. Paul wants to check out if Stuart’s father is the right man for his mother. Meeting for drinks, Stuart and Paul end up checking each other out. But Paul has a boyfriend, Ben, who has been ignoring him lately. Even though Stuart and Paul are attracted to each other, Stuart does not know how to move on yet and Paul has to figure out his relationship with Ben.

This is a character driven story that revolves around the characters’ thoughts, emotions, and feelings. We start off with Stuart who is dragging himself through life after the death of his partner. Stuart is pleased that his father has finally found love again after the death of Stuart’s mother, but Stuart has his own sense of loneliness and longing. Stuart is a stable, responsible, domesticated kind of guy. When Stuart meets Paul, the attraction is mutual. Paul is more outgoing than Stuart and even though Paul has a steady boyfriend, he has not truly domesticated himself.

The story started off slow and stayed slow. I kept waiting for the pace to pick up, but it just never did. This is a classic example of telling the story versus seeing the story. We are told about Stuart’s relationship with Mark. We are told about Paul’s relationship with Ben and with his parents. We do not get to see any of it and I could not form a connection to either Stuart or Paul. There are in-the-moment scenes with both of them as they meet for the first time. They initially clash with each other and have an argument during their first meeting. They continue to have arguments almost every time they do meet. Their dynamics just did not pull me in to root for them as a couple. For those of you that have issues with cheating in your stories, when Paul and Stuart are together physically for the first time, Paul has not ended his relationship with Ben. Although they are both physically and emotionally distanced and Paul thinks Ben is avoiding him, they are technically still together.

The story takes place in England and the characters speak true to their region. A good portion of their everyday, casual phrases and conversational terms did not translate well to my region. This further pulled me out of the story at times.

Both Stuart and Paul have issues to deal with and by the end there is growth and movement for both of them. But, ultimately, the story and the characters remained even and flat, and the HFN ending was anti-climatic. If you enjoy a character driven story and enjoy the style of being told the story rather than seeing it firsthand, this may be the story for you. Overall, it did not work out well for me.

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