september audioStory Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars

Narrator: Kale Williams
Length: 10 hours, 1 minute

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

David James lost his lover, Kyle, to cancer. At 48, David feels like he has had his chance at love and now channels his energy into his job and working out. When David takes things too aggressively at the gym and injures his shoulder, his doctor sends him to physical therapy, where he meets therapist Brandon Smith.

Brandon has just moved to DC from Texas and is starting out in his career. Student loans and the high cost of living in the area have him strapped for cash, but Brandon loves his job and has made lots of friends in DC. As Brandon and David work together on David’s injury, the two men begin to hit it off and share more about their personal lives. David confides that he was with Kyle so long that he doesn’t even begin to know how to approach dating again, even if he felt ready. When Brandon offers to help ease him into dating with some “practice,” the two get to know each other even better. Soon their friendship grows into an attraction and a real passion for one another.

Both men have fallen hard, but they each face a lot of uncertainty. David worries about being 22 years older than Brandon, sure that Brandon will want ultimately want someone closer to his age. After nursing Kyle through the end stages of cancer, David knows what it is like to care for an ailing partner and worries that the age gap will have Brandon forced to take care of him one day. For his part, Brandon feels insecure about his financial situation and that David is so much wealthier and more established. He wants to stand on his own and not have David take care of him, but it will be years before he is solid financially. The men have fallen in love and both dream of a future together, but their insecurities may get in the way of what they have built.

I really enjoyed this story of a man finding love again after losing his partner. Robert Winter deals with these themes of moving on after loss really well, giving them appropriate emotional weight without miring the book in too much sadness. Even as we are dealing with some heavy issues, the men fall for each other fairly easily and their romance and the relationship they are building gives nice balance to the story. I liked both David and Brandon and they are just both good, solid guys. They aren’t afraid to share their feelings and we can see what a good partnership they make from the start. I particularly liked that this story deals with an an older hero (or at least older by romanceland standards), and how the age difference between them brings out something nice in both men.

My biggest issue here, however, is that the plot sort of gets caught in a repeat of David feeling concerned about the age gap and Brandon worrying about the finances. With the romance end feeling solid early on, for much of the book there isn’t a lot else happening from a conflict end other than these guys both stressing about these issues over and over in different ways. Toward the later end of the book, a different conflict arises that takes the story in a new direction, but for a lot of the story I just felt like the same issues were coming up over and over. Also, without giving too much away, part of Brandon’s issue with David is worry he won’t be able to be an equal and stand on his own due to the money difference. David hears this, yet even after these guys seem to sort out their issues, he still makes a major move without consulting Brandon, taking over and not treating him like a partner after Brandon JUST made his feelings clear. So there were a few places where I have to admit these guys frustrated me, as much as I liked them.

I’ll also note that David “speaks” to Kyle quite a lot throughout the book. They have two-way conversations where Kyle offers advice and where David works through things that are bothering him. It is not like Kyle appears as a ghost or anything, but we do hear both sides of their conversation. There is also a sense we get that Kyle is kind of watching over things, giving his blessing to it all. I am not always a fan of this style, though I think it works fine here. But be prepared for Kyle to make many appearances in the story.

I listened to this one in audio by narrator Kale Williams. This is the first time I have listened to a book by Williams and I think he does a really solid job here. The story is easy to listen to and David and Brandon felt distinct, with Brandon having a very light Texas twang. The side characters felt felt a little bit interchangeable, though that worked fine for the story. The only exception is Joe, a friend and sort of “fairy godfather” figure who steps in and helps out when these guys run into trouble. He has this super strong way of speaking that was so intense that I found it quite jarring. I’m not sure if it was an accent or just a tone/speaking style, but with almost everyone else sounding basically the same, Joe’s voice just pulls attention every time he speaks. I’ll also note that I think Williams handles the conversations that David has with Kyle quite well and it was easy to tell when listening that he was “speaking” to Kyle and that they were having a conversation, without being able to see it on page. So overall, I found this narration well done and I could easily lose myself in the story. I would definitely consider future books with Williams as the narrator.

I found September to be an enjoyable story with two likable men in David and Brandon. At times I found it overly focused on the guys’ insecurities about money and age to the point that it bogged down the story. But I really enjoyed the romance between the men and I think Winter does a great job really exploring a lot of interesting issues, handling them in a sensitive way while still giving the story a lot of hope and happiness.

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