• Read my review of the first book in the Not Ready for Love series, Not Allowed.

jlgribble.com | book cover of To Love You (Not Allowed #2) by Kate Hawthorne

This book’s first scene takes place right after Wyatt leaves for college in the previous novel, but luckily, Hawthorne doesn’t make us relive THAT EPILOGUE. Probably because she is too busy cackling with sadistic glee over a different time jump.

Amid Wyatt and Grant’s angst during Not Allowed, Wyatt’s father Adam was having a quiet relationship in the background with Cooper. We learn next to nothing about that relationship (Wyatt’s discovery of certain items in Adam’s closet aside). I honestly expected this novel to explore the events of that summer from Adam and Cooper’s point of view, but instead, see above RE: time jump. What happened between the men that summer burned out in apparently spectacular fashion because they are still avoiding each other years later. That’s an impressive feat for a small town and an overlapping social circle, so it’s inevitable that they would crash into each other once again.

Second-chance romances usually involve a lot of compromises, and I appreciated that both Adam and Cooper do their best while also remaining true to their needs. This push-and-pull leaves Adam with a lot of internal conflict while the men attempt reconciliation and a new attempt at a relationship. Still, I think he is ultimately able to accept facets of himself the way Cooper insists for them both. Learning new things about yourself in such a paradigm shift is difficult at any age; I appreciated that Hawthorne balances an appropriate amount of angst for two older men rather than the dramatics of much younger characters. These idiots in love have a difficult road to walk through a different and fascinating look at how power exchange can affect relationships, and I was engrossed from the very beginning.

Though relegated to secondary status here, Wyatt and Grant are very much present as characters. They continued to break my heart throughout this book. Both men make seemingly random comments to Adam that mean nothing to him but will gut readers who understand the full context. This novel does not end on a cliffhanger for Adam and Cooper, who I firmly believe will manage their happily ever after this time around. However, interactions between Wyatt and Grant in the final scene prompted a certain amount of anxiety that promises to make the next book epic. I can’t wait.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this novel from the author.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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