Darren is a beat cop working the night shift. He enjoys what he does, even though that means occasionally rousting homeless people and having them move along. One of those homeless people is Rob. He’s a former soldier whose situation went south after he returned from overseas. The two men share a rapport, and even consider each other friends.
One night, Darren finds Rob beaten and bloody, having been attacked by three punks in the street. Darren convinces Rob to press charges. When Rob agrees, Darren decides Rob must be put in some form of witness protection and offers to have Rob move in with him until the bad guys get caught and tried.
Slowly, the men form a routine, eating together and hanging out a bit before Darren has to go to work. Each of them begin to wonder if they could eventually be more than friends. Can Darren and Rob keep their budding relationship going? Or will things change once Rob’s attackers are caught?
I quite enjoyed Lonesome Men. Friends to lovers stories are always a favorite. The blurb was pretty straight forward and was true to the book. What I saw was what I got, and I was pleased.
First of all, I liked the idea that both Darren and Rob were good men. Neither needed redemption of any kind. Darren was divorced after finally realizing he was gay. It was amicable, and he had custody Jesse, their son. When Jesse grew up and moved out, Darren thought he was doing great, but he eventually acknowledged he was lonely, and he sort of came alive when Rob moved in. Rob’s homelessness was not due to anything he did. He was estranged from his family and left the military before the repeal of DADT. Rob has PTSD and thanks to no real skills other than being a soldier, he has trouble finding a job. Their friendship felt very natural and not forced. Along with that, it felt real. The author was skillful with the balance between Darren’s concern about Rob, while not making him preachy. He would try to nudge Rob toward getting a job and trying to reunite with his family, but he didn’t harp on it.
The whole book was written in the third person, and I appreciated that. I felt like I was getting the whole picture of their relationship and personalities without constant POV changes. There was a lot of internal dialogue, and I thought that was an interesting choice by the author. Darren works the night shift, so he sleeps during the day. Rob spent his days panhandling to try and get some money so he could feel like he was contributing to the household. So, in the beginning through more than half of the book, they only truly met up over meals when Darren returned home or got ready to go to work. By being able to “read their thoughts,” I was able to know how each man felt without pages and pages of detail that wasn’t really necessary.
Speaking of their relationship, it was a nice slow burn. They began as friends and gradually began to realize their feelings for each other were growing. While Lonesome Men isn’t a long book, the pacing was excellent. I didn’t feel a like they were being rushed. Again, everything was natural. I liked how they talked things over and decided to take it slow and see how things worked out. Even their first kiss took some time, and they held off being intimate until they were absolutely sure they wanted to be together.
There were only four notable background characters in Lonesome Men. That includes Jesse, Darren’s son, who only wanted what was best for his dad, even if that meant trying to set him up with other men so Darren wouldn’t be lonely. Also Leah, Jesse’s fiancée, who was sweet and a voice of reason when a dinner party got hairy. Malcom was the manager at the building where Jesse and Leah lived, and (according to Jesse), the perfect man for Darren. Finally, there was Zach, Darren’s partner, who served as a sounding board and advice giver. He didn’t ever intrude, he was just a good friend to Darren.
The ending was neat and tidy, and nicely done. I was very satisfied and happy for Darren and Rob. Their HEA was well deserved. It’s always nice to see lonely people finding someone to complete them. This was just a nice book with a good solid story. It was great way to spend a few hours on a rainy evening. I have read several books written by Edward Kendrick. I like his style, and have no trouble recommending Lonesome Men or his other work. Pick this one up.