Review: Elizabeth Noble – High Test

Author: Elizabeth Noble
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM

Rating: ★★★½☆ 


Summary: The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.

Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.

The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.

Review: This is a very engaging, fairytale-esque, May-December romance, with the added interest of Neal being of Indian descent. I’m always in favor of diversity in my books, plus the depiction wasn’t heavy-handed, just a guy dating another guy, who happens to follow Hinduism. Hayden is a sweet character, shy and geeky and pretty naïve, even for his young age. He’s quite swept off his feet by Neal, the older, sophisticated businessman. It’s a slow build, slow burn, as finding time to date is difficult with both men’s schedules. It did tend to make the narrative feel rather slow moving.

I’m not a fan of minute descriptive detail, and I feel like there was too much bogging things down. Specific décor in rooms, clothing colors and details, and delineating routine, daily actions, were irritations. It carried over into the two sex scenes as well, and I didn’t get much passion or emotion from the moments. Secondary characters were great though, for both Hayden’s friends and Neal’s, as well as brief interactions with both men’s wildly differing parents. The vindictive woman was a little hard to take, refusing to believe she couldn’t entice Neal, even though he was openly gay and would never date her.
The fairy-tale style theme fits well in the Dreamspun Desires line, plus has a solid HEA. Neal and Hayden’s conflicts, including the age difference, are treated with a lighter touch and there are several events that kept the story moving forward. Plus, doggies Royce and Marty have a big role and dogs always earn points from me!

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