BonfiresStory Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 9 hours, 34 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

After his wife died ten years ago, Aaron moved to a small town with his children and is now the Sheriff’s Deputy. Life is as predictable as it can be and as the years move along, Aaron just assumes he will be alone. He likes the small community for the most part and his day becomes a whole lot brighter when he sees the school principal, Mr. Larkin, known as Larx, running shirtless alongside the road.

Larx was a teacher and reluctantly moved to an administrative position, but the kids, his own children as well as the students, are his first priority. His own needs and the thought of finding someone to share his life with just don’t fit in at the moment. An attraction to the town’s Deputy is not what Larx needs right now, but when he realizes that Aaron is interested as well, a tentative friendship explodes into passion and quite possibly love.

But there is some unrest in the small town and when violence hits way close too home, Larx and Aaron will redefine family to take care of their own.

The best thing about this book were the characters as Aaron and especially Larx made for great reading. They are both a little older than is generally seen in the genre as they are both approaching 50, but they are fun, cool, and are both natural caretakers.

The book centers around both of them as well as the small town that they live in. Larx was so interesting in that he used to be a bit wilder and has now settled into being a school principal. He treats everyone fairly and stands up for what he believes is right while still trying to walk the line as a school administrator. He is active and talkative and Aaron is the perfect stable complement to him.

Both men have suffered different kinds of losses and both thought that romance and love had just passed them by. What I liked about how their relationship was presented was that once they got together, they just knew they were going to be together. There was no pretense and they just fell into a natural rhythm of a relationship. But that rhythm was hindered by living in a small town.

Alongside their relationship were several stories that all built off of each other. There were two students coming out, an entitled teen looking to get her way, conservative and homophobic townspeople, violence, and murder. Aaron and Larx have a lot going on and as they try to start a relationship and they have a lot of kids to take care of between their own and the students, but they also sort of thrive off of it. And don’t let their age sway you as they make as much time for each other as possible and still can bring the heat.

There were a few areas that didn’t all work for me. The sheriff’s department was spoken of highly, but then when they were actively working there were glaring issues that were overlooked and they came off as less competent. Also, all of the storylines didn’t feel finished to me and by the end of the book I was thinking back and had questions about several areas that weren’t addressed. The ending, and most specifically the epilogue, did let me down. The epilogue lent itself over to a couple of characters that had not been on page during the entire book and it lost focus for me and Aaron and Larx’s ending wasn’t then as satisfying. There are at least two more books planned in this series and I’m certainly intrigued enough with the characters to check them out.

I have listened to many audios narrated by Nick J Russo and this was one of his best performances. You can always count on a solid performance from him but this had a little something extra for me. All of the characters had their own voices and they all sounded like real people. The pacing was great and the banter between Aaron and Larx really came through. The intimate scenes flowed well and Russo was able to convey all of the intended emotion. There were many characters in the book and many were teens and Russo voiced them all with ease. This is one performance that you can just turn on and immediately fall into the story. I have only read a few books by Lane and although she is a favorite in the genre, I haven’t connected as well to her books. Of the Lane books I have read, this would be the one I would recommend and the audio would be one that you should most definitely check out as well.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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