Piper Vaughn, Kade Boehme – Wood, Screws, & Nails

wood screwAuthor: Piper Vaughn, Kade Boehme
Reviewer: Yvonne
Publisher: DreamSpinner press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781627988018

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.

As a broke college student, Malachi could use the money, and spending the summer with Aaron for eye candy sounds like a dream. “Look but don’t touch” becomes his motto. But when Julian starts flaking on his responsibilities and Malachi and Aaron are forced to spend long hours alone together, their mutual attraction is impossible to resist.

Aaron can’t fight the temptation sexy Malachi presents. But more than their age difference stands in their way, not the least of which is Aaron’s semi-closeted status and the fact that he’s never openly discussed his sexuality with his son. He has no idea how Julian will react when he learns his father is not only gay, he’s also dating his best friend.
Kade Boehme is back in familiar territory here as he revisits the theme of an older formerly married man falling for his son’s best friend that he first explored in “Wide Awake.” This one has the addition of co author Piper Vaugn helping to smooth out the rough edges. For the most part it works here. The two authors blend well, so much so that I couldn’t really tell where one began and the other ended..

The story itself was a nice diversion. Aaron is a hunky contractor whose plans for the summer to remodel his parent’s lake house runs into a snag when his helper injures himself. As an alternative, Aaron asks his son Julian to work for him over the summer as a way to reconnect. Their relationship had been strained ever since Aaron divorced Julian’s mom. Aaron is secretly pleased when Julian asks to also bring along his roommate Malachi as Aaron has had a crush on him from when they first met.

Things really click for Aaron & Malachi. Aaron is impressed by Malachi’s carpentry skills and his maturity and Malachi finds himself very attracted to the older man. However, the summer also brings strain as Aaron starts having a difficult time juggling the secrets he’s keeping from Julian, namely the fact that he’s gay and dating his best friend.

But the closer Aaron & Malachi become the more bratty and annoying Julian behaves. He starts to neglect his job and disappear for long periods of time. Aaron is way too soft with Julian and pretty much lets him get away with all kinds of things for most of the story.

I never did quite get Julian’s issues. It’s obvious he’s jealous of Malachi but there’s other things going on as well as there’s some mention of a problem with a girl though the issue is never really explored. Aaron’s inability to confront Julian and also to come clean about his sexuality was also a bit annoying as he’s supposed to be the adult in this story.

He has a great relationship with his ex wife and no one anywhere seems to have a problem with his sexuality. I had to assume it all boiled down to fear of the unknown and not wanting to do anything to mess up his relationship with Julian which means he gave in to him at every turn.

Instead of seeing a reconciliation between father and son, what we end up with most of the time is Julian somewhat one dimensionally playing the dark cloud hanging over Aaron and Malachi’s romance. Julian’s running and frequent absences does allow Aaron and Malachi to find the time to become closer, especially sexually. While those scenes start off hot, it sometimes felt too long and detailed instead of focused on the raw emotions. There was good humor and chemistry between the two that helped to offset that.

The 16 year age difference between the two men while large, never felt excessive. That’s probably because a lot of times Malachi acted older and Aaron younger than his age. The two get together fairly quickly but we do have a lot of ‘we shouldn’t have’ guilt accompanying it. I liked that we got dualing points of views which is terrific for romance stories. There’s one wrinkle, (Julian) that temporarily tears them apart but it gets resolved nicely.

Julian was a problematic element especially as he does a totally unexplained attitude turnaround at the end. Despite that, while I wasn’t blown away, I did end up liking most of the story and would recommend it, especially for lovers of May/December romances.

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