At almost 20, Luca Ward feels adrift and unsure about what he wants to do with his life. This has led to a lot of fighting with his parents who want him to pick a direction and who don’t understand his attitude. In an attempt to get Luca to straighten up, they decide to send him to stay with their old friend, Imre Claybourne, who lives on a remote goat farm in North Yorkshire. Luca hasn’t seen Imre in ten years, but he remembers the gentle giant fondly, as Imre always made him feel cared for and protected. When Luca sees Imre again, those warm feelings come roaring back, but this time with a very adult attraction to the gorgeous older man.
Imre loved Luca as a child, but he is unprepared for his feelings for the man now before him. Luca’s inquisitive nature, his stubbornness, and his determination all appeal to Imre in very adult ways. But he also knows there can be nothing between them. Imre is more than twice Luca’s age, not to mention his father’s best friend. Imre is determined to keep Luca at arm’s length, even as their long days together working on the farm begin to bring them closer. Luca is clear that he wants more from Imre, and Imre knows he is hurting Luca by pushing him away, but he sees no other choice.
As the days pass and the men grow closer, Imre finally gives into his feelings for Luca, but he is determined that this can only be temporary. Yet as their time together grows close to an end, the men struggle with the idea of being apart. Now Imre has to decide if he can be brave enough take a chance on what the men have built together, even if it means risking his heart.
So, a silver fox, goat farmer, age gap story, featuring the best friend’s son? Not to mention that cover? Yes, please. As soon as I heard about this one, I was dying to read it, as Over and Over Again combines so many of my favorite story tropes. I found this book just lovely and romantic and both of these guys stole my heart.
The story is incredibly character driven, so much so that these guys barely interact with anyone but each other over the course of quite a long book. It could have made things boring, or the book lag in the middle, but I found it engaging throughout. McCade does such a wonderful job of developing these characters and building the relationship between them that I was completely drawn into their story. I feel like I knew Imre and Luca so well. I could understand what was driving them, where they struggled, and why the acted the way they did. Imre is just delightful as this sweet, giant of a man who is so gentle, caring, and peaceful. Yet he still needs things shaken up a bit, and that is what happens when Luca enters his life, all full of energy and sass and determination. I also liked the incorporation of Imre’s Romani heritage, as well as his demisexuality. Both areas were handled with sensitivity and helped to really develop his character. It is amazing what a difference well drawn characters can make to any story, but particularly one like this where they carry the book. I found myself so drawn in, even by the routine farm chores as the men worked side by side. And so even though this is a quiet book, it never felt boring and I could really sink into the small details of their lives.
The conflict here is one we see coming from the very start, and that is the age difference between the men. These guys are in totally different places in life, with Luca just figuring out what he wants for his future and Imre long settled on his family farm. Imre is a peer to Luca’s father, and I’ll admit that if thought too hard on the age gap it left me a tiny bit unsettled. But I think McCade does a wonderful job here making their connection feel believable. It is never salacious, and I never felt like Luca sees Imre as a father figure, nor that Imre sees Luca as a child. Their affection for one another may have started years ago, but their love and attraction is now clearly coming from an adult place. I loved that Imre gives Luca the space and a calm place to figure himself out. And I appreciated that there are times when Luca is the wiser one about navigating their relationship, giving things some balance. Imre takes things slowly and carefully with Luca, and it is all lush and romantic and sexy.
The setting also adds a lot to the story, and we get great detail on farm life, particularly in such an isolated area. The scenes of the storms where the men have to venture out into the snow to care for the bees are fascinating and harrowing. I think McCade gives us enough of their daily routine to really make the story come to life, as well as to give us a feel for how much this life really suits both men.
So I really loved this book and totally got swept up in Luca and Imre’s story. It is romantic and sweet and sexy, and so well anchored by these two really fascinating men. I can absolutely recommend it, particularly to fans of age gap stories.
P.S. Ok, that cover? So gorgeous. I’ll admit I turned back to it many times during the book because it is so perfectly Imre.