Read my reviews of the previous books in the Not Ready for Love series:
This book is really the second part of the love story between Wyatt and Grant that starts in Not Allowed. Unfortunately for us, Hawthorne traumatizes her readers with a significant time gap between the two halves, even if she does give us an excellent companion romance in the middle that almost makes up for it. After 10 years away, Wyatt returns home and finds himself once again next door to Grant – this time without immediate parental supervision. Those years of silence (with one notable exception) make their reconnection both awkward and intense. But despite the internal angst that infuses the first section of this book on both sides, these men have been on a collision course from the very beginning. Hawthorne infuses each interaction between the characters with such intention that this reads less like a second-chance romance and more like a continuation that should never have been interrupted in the first place.
The initial angst mostly revolves around the tentativeness of their potential as equal partners. The want and need between them still exist, though, and this time, Wyatt has a secret weapon. The time apart has given him certain knowledge and experiences that Grant refused to share with him the first time around. Once that’s out in the open, I loved that the list makes a reappearance to highlight the new possibilities for these two men. Even so, they continue to put limits on their relationship; at least until Grant takes matters into his own hands. First, by going to New York to help Wyatt cut ties with the time that separated them, and second in a much more literal fashion. The timing of the interruption by Wyatt’s father is almost brutal perfection. At that point in my reading, I knew I wasn’t putting the book down again until I finished it, and I have no regrets that it meant I was up way past my bedtime to do so.
In this half, and for the story as a whole, the path to a happily ever between Grant and Wyatt is never easy. The “dad’s best friend” issue is only part of the problem once power exchange is introduced to their dynamic. I adore Hawthorne’s storytelling because of how she always twists expectations. In this case, the age gap between the characters is less of a trope and more of a significant point to the development of the story. In particular, I enjoyed that Wyatt continues to actively pursue Grant, despite his role as the supposed submissive partner. However, Hawthorne interrupts this flow at times, which does a lot to reveal the depth of her characters. I also appreciated the reversal of the younger man hoping that he is worth being with his partner when I usually see it the other way around in age-gap relationship stories.
This is a series that will stick with me for a long time, and I already look forward to reading it again (and again) in the future. I have the feeling that I will find something new to discover and appreciate every time.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced review copy of this ebook from the author.