As an older sub, Cornell longs for a Dom and a relationship, but he finds most Doms are looking for younger men. Cornell manages with the caring and support of his best friend, Jonas, until a tragic accident kills Jonas and leaves Cornell with significant injuries. Not only is Cornell deeply mourning Jonas’ death, but now he has some physical limitations that he fears will make attracting a Dom even harder.
When Cornell gets out of rehab, he isn’t physically ready to live on his own, but fortunately, Jonas’ son Rhys offers to let Cornell stay with him. The men have known each other since Rhys was a child, and Cornell is Rhys’ godfather, but that doesn’t stop Rhys from wanting Cornell. He longs for the man, not only as a partner, but as a sub. But Cornell has no idea about Rhys’ feelings, nor that the younger man is even a Dom. Rhys wants to tread carefully for fear of scaring Cornell off, but he also knows he must come clean about his feelings and desires.
It takes some time for Cornell to come to terms with his own attraction to Rhys, as they not only have a 20 year age gap, but a connection through Jonas. The fact that at times Jonas and Cornell played sexually while having a scene with the same Dom makes things even more awkward. But Cornell can’t deny how Rhys makes him feel, and when they begin to explore scenes together, the connection between the two of them is just perfect. But Cornell and Rhys are still mourning Jonas, not to mention facing the scrutiny that their age gap and relationship brings. However, the men are determined to find happiness together, no matter what it takes.
I really enjoyed this story by Nora Phoenix. I mean, it is pretty much my cat nip with the reverse age gap element, but there is also so much heart and sweetness here to go along with all the heat. Clearly, you have to be cool with the whole “sleeping with your best friend’s kid” aspect of the story, but Phoenix handles it really nicely and things are never salacious, but instead sweet and romantic in a way that makes the premise really work. I particularly appreciated how both Cornell and Rhys are struggling with expectations based on age and their kink interests. As an older sub, Cornell finds most Doms are looking for young twinks and not middle aged men. He worries he will no longer attract a Dom, and that feeling gets even worse after his accident when Cornell can no longer kneel and has other physical limitations. Losing Jonas, who was not only his best friend, but someone who truly understood and shared his plight, has left him at even more of a loss. Conversely, Rhys finds that as a young Dom, he is not always taken seriously and people are looking for someone older and more experienced. So each of these men are fighting against other people’s expectations and it is really rewarding to see them finding a connection together.
Rhys and Cornell also have a shared bond in their grief over Jonas’ death. I liked that Phoenix doesn’t shy away from the fact that neither man is over the loss, and while certainly unconventional, their joint connection to Jonas does help both ease their pain and bring them together. There isn’t a magic fix for the grief, but instead it’s something that the men must work through over the course of the story.
Despite the loss of Jonas, I didn’t find this story overly heavy, and in fact, it is really quite sweet. These guys are just so tender with each other and you can feel the caring between them. There are definitely plenty of sexy and kinky elements, but along with that, just a nice sense of two men who really are kind, gentle people and are helping each other heal and find happiness. I do wish we had a little more background into Rhys’ long-standing attraction for Cornell. We are told that he has wanted Cornell for years, but what is drawing Rhys to him is never really clear. Also, things between them move quite fast, and while they have known each other for a long time, things go pretty much at lightening speed once they begin their relationship and I feel like a little more time to develop things would have been nice.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I found it heartwarming and sweet, as well as plenty sexy, with a nice level of kink and that bit of taboo between them. Phoenix really does a nice job building their connection and showing us why these two men work so nicely together.