Calvin is a junior manager of research and development at a pharmaceutical company, and he’s quite successful. He also has some abandonment issues since his biological father left his mother and him, making a new family and never contacting Calvin and his mother ever again. This has made Calvin want to date older men. One night, he and his friends are dining at an exclusive restaurant when the owner joins them for dinner, and Calvin can’t hide his attraction.
Turner owns 15 restaurants throughout the country. He’s in San Francisco to see to his newest one. When Turner meets Calvin, he’s smitten, and he wants to take him out on a date. Their chemistry is instant and heated, and even though he’s 17 years older than Calvin, Turner thinks Calvin might be the one.
The road to their happily ever after has a few bumps. Turner’s ex boyfriend of 20 years comes to town to personally invite him to his huge wedding. Struggling with the decision of whether he’ll go, Turner becomes a bit distracted. Turner also has to convince Calvin he doesn’t have any sort of lingering feelings toward his ex. Turner knows Calvin is the one for him, and he’s willing to anything to prove it.
When I read the blurb for Never Left Behind, I was interested. I absolutely love age gap stories, and when an ex-boyfriend arrives to cause some trouble, I’m even happier. However, I’m sorry to say, this one missed the mark for me.
First and foremost, I just didn’t feel any sort of connection with Calvin or Turner. I usually fall in love with the MCs, but this time? Nothing. It’s like I was reading about what was going on with them and their relationship, but there was no real look into what makes the men tick. Yes, I’m told about Calvin’s abandonment issues, and Turner’s complicated feelings for his ex, Roger, but none of this made me feel close to them. They had what was supposed to be great sex, but I didn’t feel any sort of chemistry. It felt like it was sex for sex’s sake. And while I usually love dirty, filthy, grinding sex scenes, thanks to feeling distant from Calvin and Turner, it all seemed rather over the top.
I also want to mention the issues of the age gap and the money. Seventeen years is quite a bit (once again, I love a good older/younger man relationship), and it seemed like it was more of an issue with Turner than Calvin. Turner continues to point it out, even though Calvin thinks nothing about the age difference and wants to focus on being together.
“I’m honored,” Turner responded with immediately. “I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m nearly two decades older than you are. I don’t have time for silly games. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and tell you that I’m attracted to you because you seem like an intelligent and sweet man. Yes, you’re all those things, but the first things about you that caught my eyes are your gorgeous face, your sexy body, and you’re incredible ass. I really want to fuck you, and I definitely hope you’ll fuck me good.”
Also, while Calvin is rich, Turner is incredibly wealthy, and he thinks nothing about paying for everything. He wants to take care of Calvin, but Calvin often thinks it’s unnecessary.
“This is a hotel suite? For real?”
Turner nodded at Calvin. “Seventy-five thousand dollars per night.”
Calvin swiveled his head really fast toward Turner. “S-seventy-five thousand dollars? Like real money?”
Turner chuckle, “Yes, babe.”
Calvin stared up at the twenty-six foot ceiling before he glance all around the hotel suite. “We will only be staying here for one night. What do we need ten thousand square feet of space for? And all of those bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplaces, living room and wet bars? They will be wasted.
Turner approached Calvin and hugged his boyfriend from behind before resting his chin on the younger man’s right shoulder. “I like to spoil and pamper you. It makes me happy.”
The focus on the age gap and the over-the-top spending just made it difficult for me to really connect with the characters. In addition, the writing style in Never Left Behind is rather clunky and the dialogue feels too formal. Also, the use of the words, “his boyfriend” is overdone. Along with that, Calvin has a set of seven best friends. There are many references to these friends and their boyfriends. I imagine it’s supposed to be a bit of exposition, but I started to get lost in all that. Perhaps it’s a bit of hint dropping about future books with the friends as MCs, but I believe this time could have been better served as more information about Calvin and Turner.
When Calvin and Turner go to Roger’s wedding, it’s kind of interesting, and I consider those few scenes to be some of the best in Never Left Behind. They’re a bit intense and they’re also nicely detailed. The dialogue actually flows well, and there’s a pretty great little twist, that amused me and made me smile.
As the story begins to wind down to the end, it’s sweet, neat, and while predictable, I found it to be satisfying. In fact, it seemed the story was actually beginning to find its footing toward the end. I feel like it would have been a really good book if it was all written like the denouement. However, overall, this story was a miss for me. I think others may enjoy it if they connect better with the story and characters, so I’m cautiously going to recommend it for that reason alone. I would even go so far to say I might consider reading other books by the author, hoping this one was an anomaly.