Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


This is a sequel to Taboo for You (now retitled as There for You), but reads fine as a standalone. I chose it as my TBR Pile read for Reading Challenge Month because I really loved Taboo for You and, I enjoy reading stories set outside of my American experience. The setting here is New Zealand, a locale that has always held my interest.

Jack Pecker is a 39-year-old woodcrafts teacher at Kresley Intermediate School. He seriously dated a PE teacher at the school, but they broke up many years ago because Luke would not come out. However, Luke has now come out and is totally in love with his long-time neighbor, Sam. Luke and Sam are living in a house that Jack has been remodeling for them—with Jack. House-sharing in a remodel has been a way for Jack to keep his costs down, because he’s been saving for a beautiful villa to come on the market, and it’s nearly within his grasp. But listening to Luke and Sam’s amorous explorations through the walls morning, noon, and night is definitely wearing on Jack. Essentially, he needs a new project.

Challenge Month 2021Ben and Milo McCormick are orphaned brothers trying to overcome the intense grief of losing their parents in a car crash several months back. Ben is 24 and a fabulously out young man. He’s always been opinionated, and he was a student of Kresley Intermediate as a child, with some of the current teachers knowing him from those years ago. He’s raising Milo, who is also a wise-cracker, and a 7th grade student in Jack’s course. Jack and all the teachers deeply sympathize with the McCormick brothers and feel a bit of protectiveness, but they aren’t shy to point out when Milo’s behavior is unacceptable—there are not “free rides” so to speak. Ben wants to sell their family home and move to a more urban setting, but Milo is digging his heels in; he feels that leaving their home would make him lose his memories and connection to their parents. They’ve been staying in a cottage at the edge of the property since the accident and the house has languished. It needs refurbishment if it’s going to be salable—and wouldn’t it be grand if Jack would stay there, in the big house, while fixing it up? There’s a big problem, though, in that both Jack and Ben find the other attractive. And, that having a relationship with the caregiver of a student is frowned upon by the administration at Kresley, especially so if that caregiver is a younger, grieving, potentially vulnerable man like Ben.

Jack reluctantly agrees to fix up their house, with Ben using his inheritance money to fund the repairs and updates. Jack stays in the home, where he quietly works on the many projects Ben needs tackled, and he helps with meals and even babysits Milo so Ben can have a night out each week. Not that Ben wants to go out of dates with other men. He’s smitten with Jack, and that’s not changing. He’s honest about it, and Jack’s honest about his own interest, both men lamenting the timing and awkwardness of the school situation. Expect a slow burn.

I love how these three make such a great team. Jack is the firm hand that Milo needs, while Ben is all heart on his sleeve—trying his hardest, but having no parental skills. He was literally paying Milo for good behavior before Jack nipped that. Jack gets Milo doing the right things for the right reasons, and over the months it takes to refurb the house, they all build a deep connection to one another. Jack’s presence helps Ben overcome his phobia of the big house—and the remodeling goes a long way toward him experiencing his time there through a new, more hopeful lens. The tender and loving bonds they forge link Ben and Jack and Milo into the family experience Jack has longed for, and it’s so sweet and loving I was just captivated. Jack has family issues, since he was disowned way back when he came out. I love that we get to see the relationship build from both Ben and Jack’s POV, because Jack might have come off as stuffy if we couldn’t absorb his quiet humor and his unending patience.

There are some chosen family moments, with Luke and Sam and Sam’s son becoming friendly with Ben and Milo, through Jack. Jack having a family is the catalyst for him to get his dream house offer, but by then it’s the big house that has become his dream, as long as he has the love of the McCormick brothers to fill the rooms with joy. I really enjoyed this story, and am glad to check it off my TBR pile at last.

This review is part of our 2021 Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two fabulous audiobook bundles from Tantor Audio (you can see the details on the bundles in our Prize Preview post)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing Grand {rize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! And don’t forget if you read along with your own challenge book this week, you can earn ten contest entries for writing a mini-review on our wrap up post on Friday! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on TBR Pile Week here