Sol Trebeck became the guardian of his 15-year-old nephew, Cameron, about two years ago. Sol’s sister was permanently disabled not long after Cam was born, and is still in need of nursing care. Sol’s mother was raising Cameron, but she had a massive stroke and passed away, leaving Cam with Sol. Before his abrupt entry into parenthood, Sol was living a bit of a bohemian life in London, a professional artist with an enterprising boyfriend. But Austin wasn’t set for being a father, not the least of which was because Cam didn’t really care for him. Due to trust and abandonment issues, Cam clung to Sol and Sol sacrificed anything to help care for Cameron. Austin took off, and that made Sol’s exodus from London life necessary.
With mounting costs and Cam being homesick for the place he grew up—Sol’s hometown in Cornwall—Sol took a job teaching art at Glynn Harber, a private school for children who need extra care and consideration in the curriculum. Sol, as a faculty member, gets a steep discount on Cam’s tuition, and that’s important because the art studio and salary leave much to be desired. Only, Cam’s getting up to trouble again—sneaking out and maybe planning on making some graffiti art—that would get him arrested and his scholarship revoked.
The headmaster is pumping all the faculty to assist in fundraising campaigns to bring more students and high-profile connections to Glynn Harber. Sol has a precarious connection to a sort-of high profile artist he knew in his teens. Jace Pascoe lived in Cornwall with his mother, renowned artist Emily Pascoe. At a critical time in both their young lives, Jace and Sol were enrolled in the same classes, and Sol very much admired both Jace and Emily’s art. Jace seemed so intense, and his art was outstanding. Emily had done some lessons at their school and her compliments and suggestions went a long way to encouraging Sol to pursue art school over his father’s objections. Sol really liked Jace, and it seemed mutual, but they shared only one kiss before their fledgling exploration was halted by an unexpected move. Sol never forgot about Jace, and what might have been. In fact, his tattoos reflect the art he and Jace made together, once upon a time.
Now, Jace has returned to Cornwall, recuperating from an injury that has robbed him of the ability to make his art. He also manages his late mother’s estate, moving her art through installations worldwide. Sol doesn’t want to approach Jace, but he’s trying to save Glynn Harber for Cam’s sake. And he screws up the courage to reach out. Jace is stunned and excited to see Sol again, particularly as Jace also struggles to connect to people, and the two had such an intense connection all those years ago. Reconnecting with Sol is nothing short of cataclysmic and both men are unable to hold back the tides of ardor.
This is the second book in the Learning to Love series, but reads fine as a standalone. This was a really neat, found family, reconnected love story. Sol’s duty to his family has caused him a lot of heartache, and he loves Cam like crazy, but he also struggles with conflict, and Cam is a headstrong youth. Cam’s abandonment and trust struggles highlighted how Austin was so the wrong man for Sol, and yet his ready acceptance of Jace as a mentor and confidante seems like a miracle. Jace, as a street artist with the cred Cam respects, is able to lead him into cooperation. Cam blooms under the urging of Jace, much like Sol had bloomed under Emily’s advice. I loved seeing Cam really open up and become a leader, as well as seeing Sol and Cam repair their fraying familial bond. Their situation with Cam’s mom is so fraught, and Jace even makes that seem manageable. Jace’s affection and support help Sol find even more confidence in his teaching, a role he’d long thought he was failing at. I loved how Sol’s negative world view was tipped sideways with the sunshine that Jace brings. That their growing love further complicated Sol’s professional situation was a poignant twist. He must make Cam a priority, but their tenure at Glynn Harber might be short. It is only when Jace, Sol, and Cam work together that they are able to solve the complicated problems each man has.
There are some really steamy moments, as Sol and Jace finally get to have the relationship they’d been denied by circumstance as teens. Sol’s self-sacrificing nature is admirable, but he’s miserable. I was glad he had some good friends to help him find some balance. And, Jace is a good influence in that direction. Cam is really a sweet kid, and he does deserve Sol’s best. Jace’s patience and love truly facilitated their communication and helped both Cam and Sol find familial peace, as well as provided the support both Cam and Sol desperately need. It’s a happy ending for the romance, and we have good news on the school front by the end, as well. I do expect to see another book in this series, once for headmaster Luke to get his happy ending—and I’m eager to read on.