Rating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

Danny Connery is taking a year between high school and college to work at his father’s design firm. He has known his dad’s business partner, Jordan Chambers, for years, but one late night at work has the two recognizing an intense attraction to one another. The men have a steamy night together and it turns out their interest in Daddy/boy play aligns perfectly. However, both men assume it will be a short term thing until Danny leaves for school. After all, Danny is only 19 to Jordan’s 43, not to mention Danny is the son of Jordan’s business partner and there is no way Jim will ever understand.

However, what starts out as some hot sex between them ends up turning into something more. When Danny heads off to college, neither man is ready to break things off. But with Danny across the country, their time together is limited, especially since they have to keep their relationship a secret. Things get even more complicated when Jordan has to fake a relationship with someone else in order to keep Danny’s matchmaking mother off his back. The situation is stressful for both men, and being apart is difficult. They know that they will either need to come clean about their relationship, or risk losing what they have built together.

The Cost of Desire is the second book in Kate Hawthorne’s really enjoyable Secrets in Edgewood series. While Jordan and Danny are from the same hometown as the characters in A Taste of Sin, the stories are completely independent of one another, so you can read this one as a stand alone.

This story has an interesting beginning in that the first five chapters were originally part of a free short story. So there is sort of a mini story arc to these chapters that take us from the guys first hooking up until about a week later when we see they are still seeing each other. There isn’t a firm ending here, but I can see how the short story could have wrapped things up for them. I definitely liked these guys together and I think Hawthorne did a really nice job developing this beginning for them into a full story. It isn’t totally seamless, but the initial chapters do transition really nicely into the larger story. It does mean, however, that these guys get together really fast and things are pretty much immediately intense as they originally only had a few chapters for their story. So we see them hang out for one night before they are falling into bed (or over desk) together and then after that week, the story jumps ahead to the fall when Danny is leaving for school. So I do feel like I would have liked to see more of their relationship building as we jump over a lot of that early time together. That said, I do think the story flows nicely and once we move past this early section it’s even smoother.

This is a story where we know the conflict pretty much from the start of the book. Danny is not only much younger than Jordan, but the son of his business partner. And we know that at some point their secret will come out one way or another. Sometimes in books where the conflict is predetermined, the story can lose energy because the resolution feels inevitable from the start, but that is definitely not the case here. Hawthorne does a really nice job letting us see the relationship deepen, and while there is always this shadow hanging over both men, the story still keeps its energy nicely. This is definitely a sex heavy book, and the guys seem to spend more time in bed than out of it (they also have a really bad habit of never locking doors and having sex in incredibly risky places for two men trying to to keep a huge secret). But I could still feel the depth of emotion between them and their relationship grows nicely from pure heat to a real sense of love and commitment. By the time the final conflict rears up, we can really believe that things are solid between the men. I also appreciated that for the most part, Danny never feels like a kid. The age difference is clear, mostly because these men are in very different stages of life. But despite the age gap, I could really feel that Danny was a solid partner for Jordan.

There were a couple of areas where I struggled understanding Jordan’s behavior as seemed somewhat out of character to me. First is the fact that after Jordan and his wife divorced, he never told anyone that he had realized he was bisexual. His interest in men is at least part of the reason for his divorce, and I had trouble fully understanding why he kept it a secret afterwards. Jordan’s explanation is that he doesn’t want anyone to know his private life, which I understand, but he then allows Danny’s mom to set him up and he pretends to date Monica and trots her out in front of Jim to make people think they are dating. It just seemed kind of incongruous (something Danny points out and Jordan acknowledges, but never really addresses). Along with that is the fact that Jordan fakes dates Monica at all. Jordan just doesn’t come across to me like a pushover or someone who worries what others think of him, so going as far as pretending Monica is his girlfriend just because he doesn’t want to deal with Annette’s meddling surprised me.

These were small issues, however, and overall I really enjoyed this story. Hawthorne has a nice way of creating steamy, sexy books that still take the time for character development and interesting storylines. I really liked this age gap romance and can definitely recommend it.