Dan’s wife of 34 years passed away last year. She and his children were aware of his bisexuality, but it never mattered to them. Now, after a year of self imposed grieving and solitude, Dan’s daughter, Julia, has decided he needs to get out of his lonely apartment and back out into the world. She enlists the help of her boyfriend, Bruce, and gets Dan out to join the gym where Bruce works.
Once Bruce talks with his father, Luke, about Dan, Luke wants to help. He arrives at the gym offering to be Dan’s workout partner. Soon, the men are becoming friends and an attraction eventually builds. Before long, they’re spending more time together at the gym and outside as well.
However, some of Dan’s insecurities begin to break into his relationship with Luke and he pulls back. Topping that off, Dan sees Luke spending time with another man, causing a misunderstanding can get in the way of their happiness. Will they be able to get past it, or will it all be over before a relationship has a chance to really begin?
I jumped on Love, Again because I love stories about older couples. There aren’t very many out there, so I tend to gobble them up when I can. I’m going to tell you, it didn’t really do much for me…at first. In preparing for this review, I actually wound up reading the whole book for a second time. Giving it a fresh look, I was able to understand the characters and their thoughts and feelings on a much deeper level.
I feel for Dan. I put myself in his shoes and tried to imagine what it’d be like to lose a beloved spouse after 34 years. The grief must be overwhelming. I feel like his less than enthusiastic reaction to Julia’s efforts was very real. However, I also admire him for actually putting effort into it. He’s consistently insecure…and scared, and I get that.
On the other hand, there’s Luke. He’s a gay man with confidence to spare. He’s also a loving father and caring friend. I really like the way he took Dan under his wing, even before they became involved. Luke is generous with an ornery streak. He makes me laugh even though some of his humor makes me feel a little uncomfortable…not mean or cruel, but occasionally embarrassing.
The author has written their relationship nicely. Even though the book isn’t very long, it gives the feeling of a slow burn. Nels skillfully clarifies time with phrases like “two weeks later” and “after a month” to show Dan and Luke didn’t simply meet, have a date, and fall into bed. There’s no insta-love here. It feels a natural progression into a deeper relationship between the men.
There are a few important background characters who play a role in the story. Julia, of course, wants what’s best for her dad, even if he’s not sure what’s best for himself. Along that line, Bruce is the same. He’s trying to please his girlfriend, but he wants to see Dan out there, and he wants to see his own father happy. I don’t want to give anything away, but the character of Uncle Stan was crucial. He’s one of the few people who took Luke as he was and accepted him.
As far as the author’s writing style is concerned, it was smooth and engaging. The story is solid, and the characters speak for themselves. Love, Again is strongly character oriented. There’s no spine tingling action or mystery. Nobody is in any danger at any time. It’s simply two middle aged men finding their way to each other and realizing second chances at love are just as sweet as first loves.
The ending had no real surprises. However, that’s fine by me. Dan and Luke deserve their happily ever after, and I love the way it was written. The final scenes are delightful in the perfect setting. There was tenderness and humor and charm. It still makes me smile after finishing the book (for the second time!). I have absolutely no trouble recommending this one. It’s a lovely way to spend an evening. Pour a glass of wine. Lean back, and prepare to fall in love with Dan and Luke.