last first kiss coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Logan has been living in L.A., working as a personal assistant to his boyfriend, Clark. They have had to keep their relationship hidden, since Clark is a closeted actor, but Logan has been making the best of it. However, when Clark betrays him horribly, Logan knows that is the end for them. With nothing else tying him to L.A. and no desire to stick around, Logan heads home to his small town to stay with his father.

Logan knows coming home will be rough. He and his dad have never really gotten along or figured out how to have a good relationship. But things go even worse than Logan had expected. Fortunately, his father’s best friend, Ezra, comes looking for Logan and offers him a place to stay for the night. When Ezra finds himself struggling to find a job in his judgy small town, Ezra steps in once again and offers to hire Logan for some help with his handyman business. The job gives Logan both a distraction and a sense of purpose for his days as he tries to get over the emotions of the breakup.

When a job takes the men out of town and to a remote cabin, it gives them a chance to get to know each other even better. Ezra and Logan both find themselves incredibly attracted to one another, but they are hesitant to act on it. Aside from the potential reaction from Logan’s dad, they each have some insecurities troubling them. Ezra can’t help but worry he is too old for Logan and figures once things settle down, Logan will be looking for someone closer to his own age. And Logan worries he is going from relying on Clark to relying on Ezra. He also can’t help let his father get in his head with his accusations that Logan can’t get his life together, and Logan feels like Ezra could do better. But despite their fears and the large age gap, Ezra and Logan are a perfect fit. Now they just have to trust in their connection and hope it takes them to a happy future together.

Last First Kiss is a sweet and sexy “best friend’s son” story with a big age gap element. It starts as sort of a slow burn, setting the stage with Logan’s breakup, return home, and attempts to settle into town. It seems most folks don’t really like him (for reasons I am not fully clear about) and so people are rejecting him right and left when he applies for jobs. Combined with his pain over Clark’s betrayal and the rocky way things went with his dad, and Logan is definitely having a rough go of it. Ezra ends up coming in as this sexy, kind man who offers a helping hand. He is there for Logan’s father, Jon, offering a listening ear and some tough love about Jon’s attitude. But to Logan’s surprise, Ezra is there for him too, offering a job, a place to stay, and a listening ear.

Much of the early part of the book has the men mostly noticing and appreciating one another, but not acting on it. But once they finally let go, Logan and Ezra definitely don’t hold back and they are steamy together, but with a nice sweetness as well. Things felt a little abrupt to me, as it feels like they go from casual attraction, to suddenly making out, to all in with each other and their relationship in such short order. I am not totally clear on the timeline, but it seems like a couple of weeks at most from Logan’s arrival in town until the men are in love (and even less time until they are considering themselves boyfriends). So I wish the pacing had felt a little more even.

Denning does a nice job with the “in love with my dad’s best friend” trope (one of my favorites). There is a critical balance here, as Logan and his father, Jon, have conflicts and Jon doesn’t always handle himself well. At the same time, the story needs him to be a good enough guy that a sweet and kind man like Ezra would be his best friend. Denning walks that line well and we can see how a lot of the conflict between father and son is uncertainty how to relate to each other, versus Jon just being a bad person. Jon didn’t know about Ezra for years, until his sick mother dropped him off with Jon, so they got a late start to their father/son dynamic and it is still evolving. It also helps keep Ezra one step removed from knowing Logan as a little kid and now falling for him as an adult, since Logan was older by the time he came to live with Jon.

The story does move along pretty easily, despite the specter of Jon’s anger and a host of other anxieties and insecurities from the men. Most of these issues don’t really develop into much in reality, and it is mostly smooth sailing for the men once they decide to get together. For all the various issues brought up in the story, I would have liked to see some of them develop a little more. But really, what you are getting here is a lot of sweetness between two really lovely men, and it is more about them coming together happily than about the conflicts they face. So this is a nice age gap story with some really appealing men. I enjoyed both Ezra and Logan and liked seeing them find their happy ending.

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