Author: N.R. Walker
Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.
Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.
Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they’re not that different at all.
This was an amazing story! Long, but the length is necessary for full character and plot development. And, of course, that gave time for it to be a slow burn and a sweet, sweet romance. I love a book with romance before the sex scenes. Add in a “bad boy” who really isn’t, a parole officer who cares about his clients, and an insufferable living environment, learning disabilities, and a sweetheart named Pops, and it’s just the perfect recipe for a five-star story.
CJ Davis is trying his best to hold his home together and take care of his Pops, who suffers from emphysema. On parole in a suspended sentence for robbery of a pharmacy, CJ is considered a typical out-of-control Davis—just like his father and his older brothers, all of whom are in jail for various crimes. In fact, the men are so infamous that their street is nicknamed Davis Row. What no one knows, or even cares about, is that CJ is illiterate—he simply never got past his learning disability and has survived and taken care of Pops without having a driver’s license, bank card, or other form of official ID. They stay below the radar and have no subsidy for Pops’s medical care. As the story opens, CJ works as a mechanic for a nice older man who owns his own garage, but he doesn’t even have a mechanic’s license so his options are limited.
Enter Noah Huxley, young and idealistic, but with experience in surviving against tough odds and heartbreaking situations. He plans to apply his knowledge and experience to his parolees and is determined to help them overcome obstacles and succeed in whatever path they choose. It’s a work in progress through much of the book, but he does manage to find a chink in the armor that surrounds CJ Davis and eventually the two become friends. They can’t be lovers until midnight on the day CJ’s parole ends and they stick to that rule long after their physical and emotional attraction becomes very evident. Neither man wants to jeopardize Noah’s job. When CJ’s father gets out of jail, all the work Noah is doing for him has to remain a secret or his father will destroy his chances somehow. That’s just the way the man ticks.
The author has created a very solid love story here, but fraught with danger from domestic abuse and with plenty of heartbreaking memories and current events. This reader got caught up in the character’s lives and I find I can’t shake them, even though the story has ended. To me, that’s the hallmark of an excellent author who knows how to weave a suspenseful and engaging tale. I highly recommend this to MM romance lovers.