Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
When small claims court judge Shawn Rosen presides over a frivolous case, he can’t help but notice how attractive the defendant Jody Jacobsen is. He dismisses the case, puts Jody out of his head, and goes home. But once there, he realizes again how empty his life is after having ended his twenty-year relationship two years before. Needing to get out of the house, he heads to a local gay bar where he meets Jody again. The two men hit it off and spend the night together, but a few hours later, Shawn wakes up to find Jody gone. Shawn hasn’t slept with anyone since his break up, and he was thinking that there was more to Jody than a one night stand. But he tries to move on.
After a disastrous blind date, Shawn is resigned to the fact that he’s no good at dating and that he should perhaps let the idea go. But then he sees Jody again, as the temp taking over for his assistant for a week. The chemistry between them still sparks, so Shawn decides to give Jody a second chance. The two men spend the week working together during the day, and sleeping together at night. Things are going smoothly for them, but Jody finally admits that he’s a serial monogamist. He always ends his relationships before they get too serious. Shawn really cares about Jody, so he lets it go, especially when he finds out the reason behind Jody’s attitude. But when the situation turns bad for Shawn, Jody runs instead of helping. Shawn knows then that he misjudged Jody, and he ends things. When Jody shows up at the last minute, can Shawn give him a second chance?
Small Claims is a quick easy, read that’s fairly low on the angst meter. While I did have a few issues with it, it’s a nice story about a man reentering the dating world and finding himself falling for an unlikely prospect. For such a short space, Stone managed to pack a lot of plot into this little novella. And that has both its good and bad points.
I really liked Shawn. He’s kind of an unlikely romance hero: older, a bit of a stomach, and just getting back into the dating pool after a twenty-year relationship with his partner. He’s a kind and fair man who loves his daughter completely and is best friends with his brother and sister-in-law. He had a maturity about him that we don’t always see in romance stories, and his inner monologue and thought processes made a lot of sense. I liked watching him fall in love.
Jody is almost his complete opposite, younger and flighty. Though some of his actions end up having a good explanation, I found him a little bit harder to like. I did respect his self-awareness though. He knew his own short comings, and wasn’t afraid to admit them. In a way his fun and adventurous attitude were exactly what Shawn needed. But I’ll be honest, I couldn’t quite see their chemistry and don’t know how it could sustain them for the long haul. As a rebound guy, Jody was perfect. But I’m not quite sure I would buy into a HEA ending. This story ends with more of an HFN and it was fitting for the story.
I mentioned that Stone packs a lot of plot into this novella, and some of it worked for me. But on the other hand, I would have liked to see things more developed. It seemed like a lot of the problems had a quick resolution, and they felt too pat to me. Shawn and his ex-partner Scott have raised Scott’s daughter from a very young age, and she considers both men her fathers. It’s understandable that she’d have problems once they begin dating other people. But the resolution and her acceptance came too quickly for me, and even though she’s started college and so is 18 or so, it just seemed too easy. As did Shawn’s acceptance of Jody’s past. Not only that, but when Jody finally reveals the source of his actions, I didn’t feel quite as emotional as I should have, because it was brought up, discussed, and then dropped just as quickly.
I do have to make a quick mention, and the publisher has this advisory on their website as well, that one of the secondary characters has an adult baby fetish. It’s not explored in any real depth, just talked about. But if this is something that’s a hard limit for you, then you’re going to want to skip this book.
All in all, I liked the book, though it definitely had its issues. If you’re looking for a light read without too much emotional depth, I can say that this one might be worth looking at.