The Librarian’s Rake is a bundle of sweet and sexy insta-love adorableness. Although they seem like opposites at a glance, Tristan and Phillip have a lot more in common on the inside—where it counts. After a brief encounter on the road, a chance meeting while visiting their respective grandfathers brings flirtatious hairdresser, Phillip, into the orbit of straight-laced, socially awkward Tristan. When a haircut fosters an unexpected camaraderie, the opportunity to spend time with Tristan is too tempting to turn down and Phillip quickly agrees to be Tristan’s guide to the naughty side. As they spend more time together, Tristan’s attraction and connection to Phillip makes trying new things less daunting; plus, it’s an exciting way for him to spend time with a man he feels would never consider dating him. For Phillip, forming a friendship with a man he’s sexually attracted to and enjoys spending time with makes him think about having a boyfriend and sharing an emotional connection with someone—an idea that he craves, but he is terrified by in equal measure.
Tristan is a simple man with simple desires. He likes cuddling on the couch and watching tv and plain ole in a bed sex. While a part of him fantasizes about being more spontaneous, having public sex or using hookup apps, things his previous boyfriends wanted him to try, they just didn’t appeal to him much . . . until he meets Phillip.
Phillip wears his bad-boy twink persona like armor, wholeheartedly embracing the idea that “all [he’s] good for is sucking cock” by filling his free time with interchangeable men and the power of getting them off. Upon meeting, Phillip is alternately intrigued and intimidated by Tristan, as Tristan’s shyness and inability to make flirty banter makes him seem standoffish and leaves Phillip in unfamiliar territory. However, Philip takes a chance by giving Tristan his business card and offering to cut his hair, not believing that Tristan will take him up on his offer, and being flustered and caught off guard when he does. Not being able to rely on his usual weapon of flirtation, Phillip is left to talk to Tristan, unexpectedly leaving himself vulnerable. Phillip being forced to engage with Tristan beyond superficial innuendo and sexual offers helps Tristan open up to Phillip about wanting to be more adventurous, and paves the way for them to spend time together and form a connection neither one expected, but each one needs.
Both MCs live their lives as the labels others have given them—Tristan as the boring and unexciting librarian and Phillip as the sassy, cock-hungry twink. Having wrapped themselves and their self-worth into these stereotypes, both ignore their mutual attraction for the old “a guy like that could never want a guy like me” chestnut. However, as each man takes a chance and steps out of their comfort zones, they come to realize that they are the ones who decide who they are, and that sometimes it simply takes the right person, the person who sees and embraces who you are, to help you make the changes in your life you want.
Tristan and Phillip are absolutely adorable together, and the writing makes the insta-love more believable and sweet, but not saccharine; moreover, the reader can see how well the two complement and help each other explore aspects of their personalities they ignored, without them changing into completely different people to be together. Phillip’s fear of the intensity of his feelings and connection to Tristan and Tristan’s steadfast determination to simply be there for Phillip and show him his love through his actions was alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking, as was the sex between them, as it was sexy, but emotionally fraught. Additionally, I enjoyed Phillip’s relationship with his best friends, Chris and Monique, especially Monique. As coworkers, Phillip and Monique interact often and the banter and care between them was delightful.
Honestly, when I first started reading the book, I thought it was going to be as shallow and flat as Phillip and Tristan’s instant stereotype-based ideas about each other, and while there is no plot and the book is all cuteness and fluff, I was happily surprised by the heart created in this short novel, and was so glad to be proven wrong.
Note: Today is Jovan’s first review with us here at Joyfully Jay! In case you want to know more about her, here is a quick bio:
Jovan is a book loving, science loving, all around nerd with an eclectic taste in books, film and music. After running across a review that seemed to speak specifically to her quirks, Jovan began writing reviews in the hopes that they might help someone find a good read or be that oddball/outlier review that spoke to someone else’s tastes, quirks and individual random irritants ;). Jovan loves learning about and experiencing new places and ideas, and wholeheartedly agrees with Stephen King that “books are a uniquely portable magic”, repositories of the human condition and safe havens with the power to enlighten, energize, encourage. . . essentially engage the gamut of human emotions and thought. In other words, Jovan totally digs books!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.