William is a newly hired history teacher in a tiny town near Portland, Oregon. He took several bus rides to get all the way there from Florida, where he’d been attending school and working as an escort to pay his bills. One of his regular clients had gotten too attentive, to the point William feared for his life, necessitating the change. As the newbie in the town, William attracts a lot of attention–some of which is highly inappropriate from his middle school students.
William rents a cottage from Grayson, a man about a decade older than him. He’s immediately attracted to Grayson and suspects the feelings may be mutual. Coincidentally, Grayson’s brother is obsessed over a prostitute who preys on the gamblers at a casino nearby. As a result, Grayson’s niece has essentially been abandoned to the care of Grayson and his elderly mother — and the girl is one of William’s new students. This makes it slightly more awkward for William to crush on Grayson — but only for about a minute and a half. Grayson’s prejudice against sex workers is a bigger impediment to the romance, though again, not for long.
I honestly had big issues with the language and plot of this story. First, the entire book has a distinctly British English quality for a story taking place in Oregon. William was also so verbose as a narrator, I was tempted to skim. He certainly didn’t read like a 25-year-old native Floridian. He’s both urbane and clueless, by turns, and I tired of his monologuing rather quickly.
Second, in terms of plot, the romance felt like an instalove, which didn’t seem to jibe with William’s history as an escort–one who’d barely survived an obsessed client. Speaking of, the subplot of the former client was too vague at the beginning, took way too long to develop, and then amounted to very little conflict in the end. Meanwhile, the rapid resolution of Grayson’s long standing prejudice against sex workers seemed disingenuous, as this major conflict didn’t cause much struggle. William’s unrealistic experiences in the classroom made me laugh, though. As a licensed teacher, reading William’s descriptions of his amazing lessons with eager and attentive students and adoring, generous parents had me wondering if I’d picked a fantasy instead of contemporary romance.
Unfortunately, this book was a real miss for me, especially because I generally swoon for age-gap and teacher romances.