We read and review for the love and joy of books.
After catching his current lover selling himself for drug money in his own apartment, it’s not only time to split up, it’s time for Luke Scherer to regroup, so he takes up the offer of a vacation at a B&B Vineyard in Napa Valley when it’s offered to him by his physician brother. Val’s got the money to send Luke away, and he’s got an ulterior motive that Luke doesn’t learn about until he gets there and finds out that it’s actually the same vineyard where he worked for a summer eight years ago.
At that time he was hired by Mal Kuijpers who was a grieving widower struggling to take care of the vineyard without her. Told in flashbacks, we learn that Luke had a major crush on Mal and the feelings looked like they might be reciprocal, but they never went too far and Luke was hesitant to get involved with a man who was still in mourning. When Luke’s estranged father suddenly showed up demanding a portion of the money he inherited when his mother died, Luke gave him the money he had been saving for college since he’d already put the inheritance money into his brother’s medical college fund. Shamed by his father’s drunken behavior, Luke left the vineyard without explaining why to Mal.
Eight years later, when Luke shows up for his vacation, Mal is shocked but pleased to see Luke and vice versa. Their relationship picks up where it left off, and the two quickly become friends again and eventually, just before Luke has to go back to his internship in an architectural firm, they become lovers.The long distance relationship is difficult, but they pull it off and over the next months they explore their pasts and talk about their hopes for the future.Luke doesn’t want to make a long term commitment, because of his past bad luck in relationships and because of the disaster his parents’ marriage was, but Mal is one of those mature, steadfast, goal-driven individuals who sees a bright future for the two of them and is willing to work for it and wait for Luke to get there too.
Both men have secrets from the past that they eventually share, including Luke’s disasters with his father, and Mal’s estrangement from his own family.Concurrent with the story, Val and his wife are expecting a baby, and when the infant is born, Luke has an epiphany about a future with Mal that includes the children and long term commitment that Mal has been hoping they’d have.
I liked this story, however, it was difficult to distinguish the flashback interludes which were interjected between many of the chapters while listening to the audiobook.If I didn’t focus and happened to miss the word “interlude”, I floundered while trying to determine if I was listening to the past or the present in the story. The narrator did a good job with the voices of the MCs, making it easy to distinguish between the two. The story itself wasn’t terribly complex, and certainly not dramatic, but it’s a nice romance for those who are looking for a sweet M/M age-gap romance with a slow build to long term commitment.