Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrators: Tim Paige and Liam DiCosimo
Length: 5 hours, 42 minutes
Steele is an out, gay bear in his mid 40s, and he kind of wants a partner with whom he can settle. He’s good at finding a man for a night, or even a month, but they all have idiosyncrasies he can’t tolerate for long All the mechanics at Steele’s garage tease him for his love ‘em and leave ‘em ways, and it’s wearing out Steele’s gears. He meets adorkably sexy Porter at the local gay bar one night, and they seem to hit it off. Porter’s swagger is stronger than his stomach though, as all the drinks he imbibes leave him too wrecked to perform. He wakes the next day in Steele’s bed alone–with a note and breakfast sandwich. Steele rather hopes Porter will call him back…but he doesn’t hear from him.
Dr. Porter Grant has recently taken ownership of a small veterinary practice in the same Wisconsin town where Steele and his pals live. Porter’s floundering as a new graduate, running his own practice without a partner. He’s burning the candle at both ends and barely covering expenses. A corporate vet practice wants acquire his practice and keep him on as the doctor on call, but Porter doesn’t want to do that; he doesn’t think it’s best for his clients, or him, in the long run.
Porter has always had a thing for bears, and Steele ticks all his boxes. They’ve met casually at parties of mutual acquaintances, but he never had the gumption to flirt with Steele until he was nearly falling down drunk at the bar. Embarrassed about falling asleep on his dream lover, and too consumed with his vet practice to commit to anything more than a no-strings hook-up, Porter doesn’t call Steele. It’s a twist orchestrated by Steele’s meddling mechanics that reunites the would-be lovers. And, well, Steele’s willing to be a hook-up if that’s all Porter has the time for, much to Porter’s surprise. The thing is, the more they hook up, the more they connect. And, well, it gets intense rather quickly.
I listened to the audiobook version of this contemporary, opposites attract, age-gap romance, and I really enjoyed it. I could tell this was a spin-off from another series, as there are lots of coupled up folks from Four Bears Construction that make brief cameos to help both Porter and Steele find their way to love. Segments of the book that were told in Steele’s POV are narrated by Tim Paige, and those that were Porter’s had Liam DiCosimo’s voice. Steele’s voice sounded a bit older than Porter’s, which made sense as there’s at least a decade age difference between them. I kind of thought Steele’s voice would be a little more gravelly sounding, but the narrator’s smooth voice was more wickedly playful in a way that I thought still suited the character. Porter’s narrator gave off strong nerdy-sexy vibes, leaning hard into the character’s insecurities. I liked their playfulness, both in and out of the bedroom. This is a low angst story that delivers a lot of yummy sexytimes, as Porter and Steele continue connecting over the course of a few months. The pacing of the book and the audiobook felt really strong, not lingering too long and only revealing moments that moved the love story forward.
There’s a whole side-story with Steele’s seemingly feckless brother, Gates, who’s breezed back into town for unknown health reasons and is living with Steele’s bestie and fellow mechanic, Tallahassee. It’s clear their story will be the next in this series, and Gates’ drama seemed to take over the second half of Crankshaft. For me, that encroachment took a little away from Steele and Porter’s story, so I was glad when we got back to them full-on for the end of the book. Expect a happy ending, bunny emergencies, and a sweet and frisky husky furbaby.