Author: Cardeno C
Retired soldier Richard Davis wants a stable life in a quiet town with a forever man. Becoming the sheriff of Hope, Arizona, accomplishes two of his three goals, but instead of finding a serious partner, he falls for too-young-to-be-committed and too-flakey-to-be-serious Todd Smitty. Richard won’t find the right man if he’s obsessed with the wrong one, so he walks away from Todd.
It’s lust at first sight when Todd meets his sister’s army friend. He sets his sights on the worldly, strong, stable older man, and the more time he spends with Richard, the harder he falls. But after three years together, Richard cuts off all contact with no explanation.
When a mutual obligation requires Todd to move into Richard’s house, he’s thrilled at the opportunity to earn a second chance. Ignoring Todd from across town was hard enough. Can Richard resist temptation under his own roof?
This story caught me off guard. I expected a sweet age-gap romance, but to be honest, for much of the story, I felt it was more of a father-son sort of story with major controlling Daddy issues and very little, if any, romance.
Sheriff Rich Davis is a retired soldier who took a position as sheriff in the small town of Hope, Arizona, a few years before this story opens. His life goal was to settle down in a quiet place, find the man of his dreams, and live happily together forever. What he found in Hope was Todd Smitty, the man of his dreams, but very young—close to twenty years younger—with whom he settled down and then discovered that Todd’s definition of monogamy and his were different. The thing he failed to do was to express any of his feelings to Todd and his intent that they be monogamous. So one day when he suddenly rebuffed Todd and broke it off, Rich felt justified because he’d found Grindr and other hookup apps on Todd’s phone, but Todd was left feeling confused and unable to grasp what happened.
Rich dominates the first few chapters with flashback memories and descriptions of his previous time with Todd—all of which sound (to me) as if he was the dad correcting the misbehaving kid—reminding him to shut off lights, close doors, pick up his clothes. This was somewhat of a surprise, based on the blurb, and it felt rather distasteful to me, though later in the story, Todd mentions it and seems to enjoy having someone take charge like that.
Another thing I realized by the end of the story is that I never really engaged with Rich. His closed-off emotions were not only closed off from Todd, but from me as the reader as well. I just never really cared enough about him to root for him to get his man.
Todd, on the other hand, was a sweetie who was portrayed as a twit at times, but at others, he showed a remarkable maturity in his introspection of his relationship with Rich. And it was Todd’s maturity and ability to piece together all the reactions he’d seen from Rich and come up with the solution for their relationship that struck me as the most interesting part of the story. I liked him. And I don’t know if it was because there was more to see in his character—his thoughts and feelings and interactions with friends were “on page” and were both interesting and informative.
The author acknowledged that their behaviors were more of a dominant and a sub, but never outright labeled them that way. These characters are certainly candidates for a BDSM story. It’s too bad this wasn’t one.
So overall, I can’t rate this story higher than a 3. I liked it, but because I didn’t warm up to Rich, who acted more like a daddy than a lover, I wasn’t thrilled with it.