wedding in a weekRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Stefan Luxton always knew he would take over the family farm, but he never expected it to be so soon. His father’s death from a heart condition has left Stefan struggling to keep the farm afloat and fill his dad’s large shoes. The last few years have been hard, particularly when Stefan’s brother, Lukas, was diagnosed with the same heart problem as their father. Stefan can’t help but worry about his brother all the time, even though Lukas assures him he has gotten the treatment he needs. Stefan has managed to hold things together on his own, even as farm finances are bleak and he feels overwhelmed. But after a recent car accident where Stefan almost lost his life and that left him with an injured arm, he has finally accepted some help in the form of both Lukas and Lukas’ best friend, Marc.

It’s hard enough for Stefan to accept help around the farm, but it’s made even more difficult by the way that he left things with Marc. Three years ago when Marc was 18, he shared his feelings with Stefan, but Stefan turned him down due to fears about getting involved with his brother’s best friend. Ever since then, Marc has stayed away from the farm. Stefan feels terrible, particularly as he knows that their family farm was always a safe haven for Marc when he was growing up. Marc’s parents did not take care of him the way that they should, and Marc spent summers in care with Stefan and Lukas’ family. Now that Marc is back, Stefan feels the regret all the more about the way that they left things. He also realizes that his own feelings for Marc haven’t changed, and the attraction he once felt is still there.

Marc is hoping to make a life in Cornwall now that he’s finished school. He’s been offered a job in London, but the position he really wants is with a local company. Marc knows that this job is his only real chance to stay in Cornwall, and he’s determined to ace the interview. When the company wants Marc to do a case study of a local business as part of the interview, Stefan shares his own dream of hosting weddings on the farm. He hasn’t been successful so far in his attempts to get a loan, but Stefan believes that diversifying into hosting weddings could be a way to revitalize the farm. When Marc hears about Stefan’s plans, he shares his enthusiasm. But there is only a week before Marc’s interview to finish the plan and put together a case study that could win him the job.

As a guys spend time together, it’s clear that the feelings they had for one another haven’t gone away. Marc is a source of not just assistance on the farm, but also support to Stefan. Stefan is a guy who relies on himself all the time, and having Marc around and being able to place his trust and confidence in him and know somebody has his back goes along way. For Marc, getting a chance to be with Stefan is everything that he ever wanted and he feels like his dreams are so close at hand. But, so much hinges on whether he gets the position and if they can pull off the plans for the farm weddings in just a week. However, even as things are going well for Stefan and Marc, life has a way of being full of surprises. And as a crisis hits in Marc’s life, now he is the one relying on Stefan for support. The men have found a way to rekindle the relationship that had never quite started. Now, they must figure out how to navigate the new challenges they face together.

I’ve become such a massive fan of Con Riley’s writing, and I’m pretty much ready to pick up anything that the author writes. This is a lovely story about second chances, overcoming loss, and realizing you don’t need to shoulder your burdens alone. Marc and Stefan began to build a relationship that neither were quite ready for three years ago. Things move fairly smoothly for them now, because the connection they have from their long-standing friendship and the many summers that Marc spent at the farm builds the foundation for transitioning into romance. By the time the story starts, both men are really ready for a relationship with one another and it’s just a matter of feeling their way through those early days.

What I liked the most here is the way that the story gives us a nice balance. The first part focuses on Stefan, who is trying to sort out what’s going to happen with the farm. They’re struggling financially, he feels like he’s barely keeping his head above water, and he doesn’t have a moment to breathe. Having this life-threatening accident made Stefan slow down in ways he probably wouldn’t have otherwise. When Marc arrives, he’s not only helping with the physical labor, but he also proves a source of emotional support to Stefan, showing him that he has people in his corner. One of the things Marc does so well is make connections, and he not only helps Stefan develop his ideas for the wedding, he also shows him that he has this huge circle of support in the local community. Stefan is used to feeling like he has to shoulder everything alone and he has to take care of his mom and his brother and the farm, and Marc shows him that he doesn’t need to be handling everything by himself. It’s fun watching them develop the wedding business, and Riley brings the beautiful Cornwall setting to life.

The second portion of the book takes a little bit of a turn, and there is a shift where Marc becomes the one in need. I don’t want to get into too much detail here in terms of the direction things take, but we reach a point where Stefan has a more solid foundation and Marc is the one who has a shake up in his life. It gives a chance for Stefan to be there for Marc, and for him to take those things that he learned about accepting help, opening himself up, trusting, and living without fear, and then use them as he helps Marc through his own challenges. So it’s nice sense of symmetry here that I think really shows not just the way that both men support one another, but also the way that Stefan has learned from his experiences and can really put it into practice.

Con Riley has just such wonderful warmth in her books that really draws me in. The stories are romantic and sexy, with a great sense of place, but what I always walk away with is just this feeling of warmth and contentment. I finish her books and I just feel happy, and I think that Riley really brings that to this story as well. Cornwall is beautiful, the farm seems idyllic, the relationship is wonderful, and the men are just kind and lovely in a way that just makes you glad to see them find their happy ending. The story takes place in Riley’s extended Cornwall world, so while this is a complete standalone, there are some cross over appearances from other characters in this world. We see Jude and Rob, from His Horizon, when the guys eat at their restaurant on a date. There are also several key cameos from Rex and his grandfather (from Finding Mr. Fabulous) and, although they only appear briefly, they do have some pivotal moments in the story. We also get a sighting of Hugo, a.k.a. His Holy Hotness, and I will say I gave a little bit of a squeal when he appeared. First, because their encounter with him really encapsulates a sense that everything is going to be all right for the men. But also because I have a complete obsession with both Hugo and his husband, Charles, and so any chance to see them is appreciated. As I said, this one’s a total standalone and there’s no reason that you can’t jump right in here. But Riley’s books are so wonderful and her Cornwall stories are so particularly evocative of the area that I definitely can recommend them.

This was another wonderful book and Riley really is fast becoming a go-to author for me. If you enjoy second chance stories, I think you’ll find this one particularly engaging, but anyone who likes a warm, lovely, romantic, and sexy contemporaries will find a lot to like here.

Note: This novel is inspired by a short story contribution to a charity anthology, and now has been significantly expended with new content.
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