Gabe is a 37-year-old widower. He’s raising Isabela, a chubby toddler, alone and trying to restart his career as an artist. Knowing he needs assistance, Gabe hires a live-in nanny. Three people appear for the job, but Matthew is a standout. He is a Brown graduate with experience working as a live-in and as a teacher in a Montessori school. Sure, Matthew’s only 23, and super gorgeous, but Gabe can keep it professional. He’s been celibate for nearly two years, deeply mourning his husband, Wyatt. Plus, he’ll spend a lot of time in the barn studio on his rural New York property. Gabe won’t do anything untoward, like diddle the help.
Gabe’s resolve lasts all of…a week. Matthew is overtly pressuring Gabe to be sexual with him, and taking a lot of unnecessary and intrusive liberties that ingratiate himself into Gabe’s daily life. It is Matthew’s mission to become the perfect partner to Gabe and, as the days go on, it is clear that there’s something outright sinister brewing on Gabe’s idyllic farm.
Let me begin by stating this is NOT a romance; it’s listed as romantic suspense, but runs closer to thriller. From the blurb, I honestly didn’t anticipate how dark this story was going to get. Gabe’s friends are somewhat happy that he’s moving on from his grief, but they are concerned about how isolated Gabe is becoming. Gabe’s vision is clouded by Matthew’s sensuality, his earnestness, and his sympathetic situation: he maintains that he was cut off from his family for owning his sexuality and he put himself through college. As Gabe’s friends chip away at these stories, Gabe digs in deeper to protect the soulful confidante who he believes needs his help as much as Gabe needs Matthew. Matthew, however, is willing to defend his new life with Gabe and Isabela at all cost—and the costs are mighty steep.
I don’t want to give more of the story away. Let me say, when I began noticing what seemed to be plot inconsistencies, it was then I realized I was reading a thriller, as opposed to a romance. I got sucked into Gabe’s desire for normalcy, and understood how he clung to the sweetness Matthew continually presented him. Who could have imagined Gabe had brought such a terror into his home? I hadn’t, and I needed to adjust my mood right quick. I thought I was getting a VERY sexy romance, and instead I got so much more.
Like any character in a thriller, Gabe makes allowances to prevent recognizing a very dark truth. To the informed reader, these allowances are unacceptable, but we have more knowledge than Gabe thanks to some well-placed insights into Matthew’s POV. The foreboding tone and sense of impending doom were carried off more deftly than I had initially perceived. As a thriller, this book definitely gets my applause. Just be prepared, this story has a resolution, but NOT a happy ending.