Author: A.R. Barley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: Sunburned Delaware native Dale Seward spends his summers wrangling lifeguards and cracking crabs. His winters are a whole lot colder.
Nico Travelli’s never even seen the ocean, but when his family’s plans for him get derailed, he realizes his future in their upscale Italian restaurants might be over, and it’s time for something new. He’s hypnotized by his first look at the Atlantic—until a wave takes him out. Luckily, Dale’s there to pull him to safety.
Dale knows better than to fall for a summer person, but that doesn’t mean he can’t show Nico a good time. Between the ice cream cones and the put-put golf, these two lonely hearts soon find themselves in over their heads.
But when Nico is tempted by a second chance at the life he always thought he wanted, will he be brave enough to give it up for the possibility of true love with Dale? And what does the sexy lifeguard do during the winter? In a state as small as Delaware, secrets are bound to come out.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Review: This was a very cute, fun story with a favorite trope of mine, an age gap. Nico drives away from his job in Chicago, ends up in Delaware, at the beach, and is promptly dragged out to sea by the undertow. Dale is the head lifeguard who rescues him, and, for motives he doesn’t want to examine, takes Nico to his home to recuperate. Dale is a nice guy, as well as being a bit older, and when Nico decides to stay awhile, starts educating him about all things Delaware. There was a good sense of place, without sounding like a tourist brochure. It also includes a description of crab-picking, which I never wanted to know about, but now I do.
It’s a relatively slow burn romance, paced to the length of the book, as Nico starts working and Dale starts seeing him as more than temporary. There are shadows from Dale’s past that are only hinted about in the narrative, giving a nice sense of anticipation. It’s only mildly steamy as Dale helps Nico learn about sex at his own pace. The story focuses more on the growing emotions between the two men, new and old friendships for both, and Nico figuring out what’s important in his life. It done with a light touch, a little humorous dialogue and enough characterization to relate to the MC’s. Very enjoyable, and what could be better than a beach read about the beach?