Just Like That by Cole McCade

2-TourBanner-JustLikeThat_McCadeThree out of Five Stars

Summary

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya.

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

Review

Just Like That is a story of one man finding himself years after a profound loss and another that is learning who he wants to be.

Summer Hemlock is fresh out of university trying to find his career, he didn’t expect to land back home in Omen, Massachusetts. He secures a position teaching at Albin Academy boarding school, directly under the man who he fosters a crush on while he was a teenager, Professor Fox Iseya.

At their first meeting, Professor Iseya has little faith in Summer’s abilities. I hurt for Summer in these moments, because it felt like Professor Iseya was tearing him to pieces and didn’t even care about the damage he was doing. Summer acted out, in a moment of bravery, and kissed his childhood crush. From that action, the entire course of the school year changes.

A daily act of bravery, Summer gets a kiss from Professor Iseya. The kisses turn into something more and hold a different meaning to them both. Summer whittles away at the walls Fox had put up since the passing of his wife. Fox allows himself to feel something other than nothing and they get lost in each other in the process.

The steam factor on this one I’d give a four out of five. Each scene was intense, full of passion that had been so tightly bound for so long, it was explosive once they were together. A May/December romance, featuring workplace, desk top sex? Woo, I was not expecting that.

Why did this get a three out of five stars? For me, I was expecting so much more. There was so much focus on Fox, with only a brief moment when Summer figured out what he wanted in life. I wish there would have been more to their relationship. I was left wanting, but still satisfied with the resolution of the story.

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Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Two Shattered Hearts

Brody Murphy feels as if he’s lost everything when his best friend and partner, Paul, dies in the line of duty. Partners on the force for years, Paul Donovan was all Brody had. Paul accepted Brody as he was—standoffish from a childhood in the foster system, bisexual in a police force that wasn’t entirely welcoming, Brody is now adrift. Wracked by survivor’s guilt and grief, Brody devotes what’s left of his heart to help Paul’s widow and her children. And when his partner’s oldest child returns home a grown man, Brody is torn between what he thinks he should do and what his heart wants.

Grief Binds Them

Cooper Donovan is in his senior year of college when the unthinkable happens. His father dies, and Cooper returns home to be with his family, and help his mother with his little sisters. So many things were left unsaid between Cooper and his father, a fact that weighs heavily on his heart. College helped Cooper learn more about who he was and what he wanted from life, and with Brody Murphy comes unexpected feelings and complications.

Hope Leads Them Home

Brody and Cooper forge a connection that leaves Brody conflicted, Cooper determined, and both men wounded by their shared grief. While Brody struggles with why he lived, and Paul died—he had no one and nothing, and Paul had everything to live for, Cooper sees a man who deserves love and happiness under the grief. Tension rises when Brody and Cooper can’t deny what’s happening between them. Both men are picking up the pieces of their previous lives and putting together a new future, one where hope and love heals, and home is in each other’s arms.

The Review

Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels is a story of loss. It is a story about finding hope in the face of losing one of the most important people in your life and finding love in a place you may least expect it.

Brody Murphy watched his partner Paul Donovan get shot in a botched robbery attempt. Not only was Paul his partner at work, but he had become part of Brody’s family. Brody is wracked with guilt. He doesn’t have a family, no children or spouse. Why was he the one who made it out alive?

Cooper Donovan, Paul’s son, returns home to help his mother take care of his little sisters and to make sure they’re going to make it through this as a family. Cooper’s thoughts weigh on him. He never had the chance to come out to his parents and he would never have that chance with his father. Brody evokes feelings in him he didn’t think he should have. He was much older, his father’s best friend and one hundred percent off limits. Or so he thinks.

This is a story that pulls at the heart. There were moments that my heart broke for both these men. Cooper is picking up so much responsibility, while attending school, and trying to keep it all together. Brody becomes a support, someone he relates to and can speak of his secrets with. The attraction between them is established quickly and it runs deep. It’s not only an age-gap romance, there’s depth to it that makes it feel realistic. Brody and Cooper are equals that compliment and keep each other balanced.

I do feel like there was something missing here though. I feel like there weren’t enough scenes between Brody and Cooper. I loved the date scene, and Brody making sure Cooper knew that he felt like Cooper was someone worth being treated special. That he deserved dates and to be won over. It wasn’t just sex between the two of them, it was more. I think everyone deserves that and I love to see it written out in books.

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