Nick is a former firefighter. Injured in a fall, he’s now working dispatch. Life hasn’t been very good for Nick. He’s divorced, but his ex wife and son live with him. His son, Hayden, is hooked up to an ankle bracelet for a crime he claims he never committed. Now, on this particular morning, Nick finds his car being towed because he was parked in a space that’s been allotted for the town’s farmer’s market. Nick’s had enough, and, while he can’t stop thinking about the handsome man who called the tow truck, he decides he’s finally going to take his friend Brian’s offer of a blind date. Maybe that will take his mind off all the stress.
Oliver has opened a cold press juice bar in town and it’s not doing very well. He’s trying to supplement his income by having a space at the local farmer’s market. Oliver and his ex had decided they wanted to open a place like this, and they quit their jobs as lawyers to live their dream…only Oliver comes to realize it wasn’t really his dream, and now he’s stuck with a business that’s failing. Oliver’s brother and brother-in-law have offered to set him up on a blind date. At first, he wants nothing to do with that, but now he’s agreed. Maybe this date is what he needs to be able to get back on track.
Of course, their families have unknowingly set Nick and Oliver up with each other not knowing about their little parking skirmish at the farmer’s market. After the initial surprise (and horror), the men begin to relax and decide to have dinner and even though it’s tense, they are having a nice time. The evening ends with a kiss that seems full of promise.
Nick and Oliver have issues to work through…family and business…so they decide to become “friends with benefits.” No strings attached, they agree to scratch each other’s itch. They even have a code word to use in case conversation turns toward anything personal or emotional. Of course, that plan begins to fall by the wayside as they begin to develop feelings, and due to circumstances neither of them could foresee, they become even closer. Now, the men have to decide if their complicated relationship is worth fighting for, of if they just want to let it remain a non emotional, sexual romp.
Cold Pressed the second book in the Seacroft Stories series. I read the first (Top Shelf) back in May, and I believe this is a good follow up. Nick and Oliver are an engaging couple, and their story flowed nicely from the first book. I enjoy stories that begin with the couple disliking each other, but finding themselves pushed together, and this one totally has this vibe. However, I find myself feeling a little disconnected with both Nick and Oliver. I mean…I get them, and I like them, but I just can’t make myself love them.
The author has fleshed Nick and Oliver out pretty well, and the lives they lead seem real enough. Both men have had it rough. They were burned in the past, and it seems they’re still burning.
Thanks to his teenage son and ex wife, Nick is living in angst. Truthfully, I feel it’s a bit too angsty. He allows them to walk all over him and he tolerates Hayden way too much. He calls Hayden “buddy” and tries to reasonably talk to him, rather than provide the discipline the boy deserves (and actually needs). Quite frankly, I despised this boy. Eventually, I discovered some of his motives, but by then, it was too late. For example, when Hayden catches Nick and Oliver making out and on their way to something sexy, rather than just saying something rude and running to his room, Hayden grabs a baseball bat and heads outside and thoroughly trashes Oliver’s Porsche Cayenne. He’s forgiven and Nick makes up a story to tell Hayden’s PO that won’t make the boy look bad. I was furious at this. Yes, yes, I know…plot development, but jeez!
Oliver tells everyone the juice bar is his dream. It’s obviously not. He comes across as detached and almost completely uninterested. He’s claiming he’s a failure before he can give himself a chance. Oliver is supposed to be doing this with his ex, Cooper, but as soon as Oliver quit his job, Cooper backed out…in epic fashion. He announces he’s fallen for another attorney and will be moving to Rome. I feel for Oliver, and I find him to be the most likable of the couple. Still, I feel angry with him for allowing Cooper to walk all over him, sticking him with a failing store and mounting debt.
While I wasn’t connecting with Nick and Oliver very much…by themselves or as a couple, I will say I want them to be happy. Once they get past their issues and other BS, I feel like they earned an HEA. Oliver comes to the rescue for Nick and his family, and I honestly didn’t see that coming. It’s a nice little twist, and Temple obviously did some research on the subject. This impresses me, and I’m sorry it comes about toward the end. In fact, it’s this moment where I finally find myself actually getting into the story.
I like how the story is told in the third person. There was a lot of dialogue, and by using that style, it’s easier to keep up rather than bouncing back and forth in Nick and Oliver’s heads. Speaking of dialogue, it’s just the right amount. I enjoy stories where the MCs actually communicate…even if they’re keeping secrets. I’m impressed and pleased.
The ending wraps the story up pretty well. Nick and Oliver both get what they need and that is each other. I get the feeling they’ll be ok, even though they’ll continue to work with Hayden. Another thing I like is that the epilogue takes place at Christmas…six months after Nick and Oliver become an official couple. This gives me some truly adorable moments, and allows me to have a feeling of hope they’ll be together forever.
All in all, Cold Pressed is a good book with good bones. It’s a great follow up to Top Shelf, and it’s a nice set up for book three (which I’m pretty stoked for). It’s got quite a bit of exposition, so I suppose you could read this without reading the first. However, if you read Top Shelf, you’ll have some idea of the relationship between Oliver and his brother, Seb, and seriously, it’s a good book in its own right. I happily recommend Cold Pressed. I’m so excited to see what Allison Temple has in store for the next installment.