Jim LaRue’s job wasn’t on the line at his best friend’s machine shop, but he offers to swap his layoff to spare his work mate and buddy, Tommy Graves. Tommy just went through a rough divorce and he is under contract to purchase a new home in the coming weeks. For Tommy, a layoff would devastate those plans and cost him more than just his income.
Tommy is a man in transition. He’s recently realized that he’s gay, which led to his bitter divorce. He’s still closeted, and he’s frighteningly attracted to his pal, Jim. He makes the first move on Jim, in a moment of elation when he learns he’s not getting laid off. Learning that Jim’s gay should be make it all easier, but it doesn’t. Tommy’s upset that Jim has SO many secrets, and Jim’s too fearful of his family’s expected reactions to consider leaving the closet, despite his attraction to, and affection for, Tommy.
That said, these guys are friends, and Tommy wants to help Jim out by hiring him to manage the rehab on his new home. Jim wants Tommy to agree to stay with him while the remodel happens, but it’s not Tommy’s plan. Instead, they get together by fits and starts, with more misunderstandings and one modest step toward commitment.
For me, the book seemed hot and cold. Jim’s desire for Tommy is quixotic, while Tommy wants a real relationship. Jim’s reticence was based on fear, which only fades once he experiences a tiny bit of acceptance in his social circle. It may have been “real” but it wasn’t very romantic. The novella moves at a pace that’s faster than the romance, I thought, and the end came a bit too quick for me. It seems like a Happy For Now ending, with many loose issues, particularly Jim’s willingness to be the open and honest partner Tommy needs. So, while it ended hot, I was still too cool to fully enjoy the book. It’s the beginning of a series, it seems, so we’ll probably see Tommy and Jim work through their issues over time. This is a second edition release, and I can’t comment on any changes as I didn’t read the first edition.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.