Read my review of the previous book in the All in Good Time series, Necessary Space.
Being a long-time fan of an author means that it’s easy to have faith in a book despite it including a trope that doesn’t typically appeal to me. In this case, it’s the age-gap element that includes a character who is still closer to being a teenager with one in his late 30s (as opposed to, say, characters in their 30s and 50s). Hawthorne nicely balances this by having Wesley and Colin share parallels in life despite their age difference, rather than the romantic conflict element centering on it. I enjoyed this contrast to the previous connected book, Necessary Space, which is linked by shared characters and the age-gap theme, but uses the trope much differently.
Wesley and Colin may be at different stages in their life in terms of professional status, but both are at the same preliminary stage of readiness when it comes to exploring their attraction to someone of the same gender. It’s a little inconvenient that they want to explore it with each other, when Wesley happens to be the (much) younger brother of Colin’s coworker, but Hawthorne also includes elements that make the age-gap work, such as Wesley’s generation-inspired commitment to communication and enthusiastic and ongoing consent (both of which are sexy AF in Hawthorne’s hands). This also meant that we didn’t have to deal with any jealousy from Colin toward Wesley’s friend/roommate Grayson, but that we did get plenty of excellent dramatics from poor Grayson, who did not sign up for any of this.
This is a relatively low-angst book, by Hawthorne’s standards, but I was still interested in seeing how Wesley reconciled his attraction with Colin with his original reason for fleeing to California. At the same time, the way their coming out journeys diverge provides a realistic unevenness, making the moments of angst more like poking a healing bruise than a stab to the gut. It also means the epic plot twist was more of a moment of anticipatory excitement than acute dread.
This book is now a duet with its predecessor, rather than the middle of a series of stand-alone romances. I’m satisfied with both books individually and as a set, but I’m still more than excited for what comes next from Hawthorne based on the way she has set up plenty of tension for Grayson’s inevitable journey, even if that one won’t include some of the tropes featured here.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.