Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
Summary: Samuel Briggs moved to small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania, to escape his tragic past and try to start over. When he’s not out walking his beat as a police officer, all he wants is peace, a manageable routine, and time to fix up his newly-purchased project home. And Samuel absolutely does not have room in his new routines for a relationship. Except a chance encounter with a handsome diner cook unexpectedly shakes his resolve.
Rey King lives for his work as a short-order cook, part-time hardware salesman, and full-time handyman. He’s in debt up to his eyeballs, so he isn’t looking for complications. And the gorgeous blond cop who comes to Rey’s rescue is a complication he definitely doesn’t need. Lucky for him, Samuel feels the same way.
But what starts as an afternoon of no-strings sex inevitably complicates itself, as the two men learn how deeply each other’s emotional damage goes. When Rey is seriously injured protecting a friend, their already shaky foundation cracks a little more. Samuel barely pulled his life back together after his first lover’s death and falling in love again isn’t part of his recovery plan. He knows renovations are always a gamble, but this one isn’t about risking money—it’s about Samuel risking his heart.
NOTE: This book was previously published under the same title. This new edition has been lightly edited to address minor continuity problems, but the overall story is the same.
Review: I will admit to some bias, since this was my first A.M. Arthur book and it holds a special place in my book-heart. I love the way she took so much angst and shaped it into a story of hope and love. Samuel is re-starting his life after years of struggle over the death of his lover and partner, Ben. Rey has been struggling for years under a burden of debt and a different loss in his life. They come together only physically at first but events form a connection of friendship and trust. The book is split into parts, beginning with Ben’s POV and Rey’s second.
The story is set against the backdrop of small town Stratton, Pennsylvania and populated with a strong cast of secondary characters: Dixie, the owner of the diner, Jennie, the young waitress, Schuyler, Dixie’s nephew and Keith, another police officer. Scenes and events are paced wonderfully, leading to an unexpected culmination. Gradually increasing feelings between Samuel and Rey and finding balance between their differences drew so many emotions. I became very involved in this, even on third reading.
I didn’t find any noticeable changes to the text, from the first edition. This book, as is most of the series, stands alone and the series continues with new stories for several secondary characters. I’ll be rereading and reviewing all with great anticipation. Highly recommended series and author!