Cal Morgan is running a games café with two of his dearest friends. He’s also struggling now that his wife has divorced him, and he’s co-parenting his toddler daughter, Kaylee. It’s so hard to give over his precious baby girl, especially when his ex, Sara, seems to have become an ice queen. That was part of why their marriage failed. Despite his commitment, Cal didn’t fight Sara when she asked for a divorce; they’d had problems for a long time.
Julian Hale is a part-time cook at Cal’s café, and he’s become a friend in the year he’s worked there. As the eldest child, Julian helped raise his siblings after their mother died. She’d been sick a long time, and Julian was inspired then to become a nurse. He’s worked odd jobs for years to be a flexible caregiver to his siblings, but the youngest of them is a senior in high school and about to graduate, so now his family is encouraging him to follow his own career and life dreams.
And, some of those dreams might involve Julian’s sexy, newly single, boss. Julian can’t resist helping Cal out, be it at the café or with Kaylee’s care. They develop a bond that is caring and playful, supportive in a way that Cal’s marriage hadn’t been. Soon, the weeks when Kaylee is with Sara aren’t so lonely, because Julian’s there. When Cal helps nurse Julian through sickness, Julian is totally gone for him. It’s going to hurt if and when Cal leaves the café to go to school.
Cal comes from a wealthier family, but he doesn’t connect with his parents often because his overbearing father is intolerable. His mom wasn’t very supportive of Cal growing up, keeping the peace at Cal’s expense. Cal resents that, but he doesn’t shy away from the rare invitation to visit. He won’t let his dad’s abuse taint his life any further. It drives him to be a better father to Kaylee, and reflects how much he’d wanted his marriage to work. It’s lonely being so estranged from everyone who was supposed to love him, and it makes Julian’s love all the more sweet for Cal. Until a new complication arises and Cal must decide what he wants for his future.
Wisdom Check is an engaging single dad romance with a great supportive cast. It’s the second story in the Dungeons and Dating series, but was easily read as a standalone. Julian is a self-sacrificing man, always setting his own needs aside for his family and friends. He’s not used to reaching for anything for himself, and can’t honestly trust that he’s worth someone else’s sacrifices. Julian thinks he is in a position to make life easier for Cal, and is willing to sacrifice his own happiness to ensure Cal has his life on track.
Cal is a hot mess at the beginning of the book, but he grows so much more confident and happier being with Julian. He develops a new sense of self and purpose, being loved and appreciated fully. I really enjoyed their love story, and how dedicated each man was to each other and to caring for little Kaylee. The supporting cast is so cool, and I liked the dynamics between all the café folks. I’d be eager to read on in this series and see other characters find love.