Ryan can barely remember a time that he wasn’t crushing on his best friend’s uncle. Despite Steven being many years older, Ryan has always felt a strong attraction to the man. When Steven’s father passes away, the viewing and funeral are coordinated by the very mortuary where Ryan works part time to help keep his fledgling party planning company afloat. As one random hook up leads to more, Ryan discovers that its not just fleeting or random emotions he feels for Steven, but that there is a genuine connection between the two of them and he knows Steve feels it as well. But when Ryan reveals who he is and Steven realizes their age difference and the family/friend connection, he pulls away, denying his attraction and pushing Ryan away.
I believe they refer to this type of age gap romance as a May/December trope and many are written in the same vein with the focus being on how the younger partner hasn’t the life experience needed to be a real fit for the older man. I was so very glad that author Brandon Witt chose not to pursue this rather tired plot vehicle. Instead, he made the real trouble between the two men focus on the impact Steven’s last encounter with his dying father had on him. The hateful exchange unleashed a flood of doubt and self-recrimination that prevents Steven allowing himself to pursue Ryan despite how he truly feels about him. Yes, there was a nod to the age difference and the uncomfortable fact that Ryan was the best friend of Steven’s nephew, Topher, but it was not the main focus and because of that we really got a better insight into Steve’s inner thoughts and pain.
These Mary’s Boys novellas are truly wonderful little stories of redemption, healing ,and love—such love. It is a community of misfits, in many ways men who have been knit together by a common thread—the place where they or their lover works and their owner/leader is Steven. It was so nice to read his story—to see a tiny window into what he endured growing up with a father who never had much good to say about his son and whom he decided would never amount to anything. Steven would never measure up and the pain of that realization and the hate his father spewed prompted his ultimate unraveling, in the end. He was mired in guilt, doubt, and anger and it is this Steven that Ryan meets at the funeral home. It’s not till Ryan makes his way to Hamburger Mary’s and sees the real Steven in action that he can know for certain that he is in love with the man and not just infatuated by some conflated idea of who Steve really is.
This series truly illustrates something author Brandon Witt does best—create wounded characters that are desperate for love and acceptance. These are lonely men, and not because they haven’t had offers, but because they have never found the guy who is just the right fit. While the love that develops between the main characters is rather sudden, that doesn’t diminish the very real feelings that inform and encourage the declarations that follow so swiftly. What can’t be denied is the need that lay within these men which has left them incomplete until that one man comes along. Deeds & Confetti provides a wonderful next chapter in the Mary’s Boys series. It is sweet, entertaining, and just the perfect story for those who love romance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.