Timmy Hale is a college junior who’s grown up the youngest child of five, way younger than his elder siblings, and mostly ignored by his older parents who’d been planning for retirement, not more kids. After years of trying to win their affection and attention, well, Timmy has given up. College is the last help he’ll get from his folks, and he studies hard as a literature major. Needing to have a viable career option when school ends in two years—beyond his dreams of being a novelist—Timmy decides to add a journalism minor, hoping that will make him a marketable job candidate. His dad essentially leaves Timmy on the curb, with all his belongings, not even turning off the vehicle to help him lug everything into the dorm. That’s when Timmy meets Colton Ledger, the Mr. Fix-It of Edgewater University.
Colt, as Timmy immediately calls him, is a quiet, gruff, muscled handyman, who lives in an apartment in the basement of Timmy’s residence hall. Colt is in his early-40s and a delicious bear of a man, as far as Timmy can see. His kindness in helping Timmy move in is returned by Timmy’s snark, and a shameless flirtation, that Colt seems…into? Well, Timmy is pleasantly surprised to learn Colt bats for his team—and he’s willing to climb the man for a time. A single time. Because Timmy has no desire for repeat lovers. He has two good-ish friends on campus, Landon and EJ, and they are all he needs for emotional support.
Colt is immediately attracted to Timmy, but he’s wary. His own son, Robbie, is a senior journalism student, and Robbie is all about appearances. He won’t claim Colt publicly as his father, because it doesn’t suit Robbie’s image of a rich kid with (Colt’s) money to burn. Colt had a lucrative construction career, but he’s working as the handyman of the college to reduce the tuition burden and ensure Robbie doesn’t have to take out loans. He’s so selfless, and that extends to Timmy once it’s clear that Timmy needs caring.
One of Timmy’s one-and-done dudes is having some sincere conflict of the stalker variety, and Timmy’s so used to dealing with his problems alone that he doesn’t want to share his traumas with Colt, with whom he’s becoming close. Nor with Landon and EJ because it seems like these “roommates” are something more, but not sharing. Timmy and Robbie are developing a friendship, too, without knowing their mutual connection through Colt. But, as the stalker begins pressuring Timmy for time and sex, well, things start to unravel. Especially when his blackmail threatens Colt’s job.
This was a sweet story about two very lonely men with problematic home situations that connect unexpectedly. Timmy’s deep yearning for affection is palpable, and Colt, the consummate caregiver, sees past the snark to the hurt and need Timmy harbors. His tenderness breaks through Timmy’s walls, but his secret is tough to take—because Timmy thinks it’s about him being not good enough to meet his son. Both of these men have had to hide their love away for years now, and it’s tough hiding the growing affection between them to keep the peace and Colt’s job. I liked how they worked through their issues, and how Robbie stopped being a leech, helping his dad and new friend find their way back to one another, luckily, when the stalker was at his worst.
This romance seems to develop quickly, but I wasn’t troubled because it felt natural with Colt and Timmy sharing living quarters in the same building. There are moments of sexy times, but the emotional connection is the forefront, always, and Colt’s steadfast admiration of Timmy is a heady experience for a man who’s been largely ignored and viewed as an inconvenience his whole life.
I loved how Timmy’s “chosen family” really does love him, and how Colt and he build a life together in the end. I definitely recommend this one for readers who like age-gap romance, New Adult romance, or college kids romance. Trigger warnings for neglect, assault, and attempted sexual assault.