Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Paulina Ian-Kane

Genre: Gay Romance

Tags: Contemporary, Age Gap (13 Years), Friends to Lovers, Opposites Attract, Romance, Series

Length: 135 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon

Cold, rude, and aloof are the nicest terms people usually use to describe me. But my apathetic attitude has gotten me this far, and I’m quite fine with it. I’m not even sure I’m capable of romantic feelings.

That is, until Daniel bursts into my life. He’s my complete opposite in every way—delicate, elegant, sweet, and kind. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I’ve had an inexplicable urge to protect him.

Three months has passed since that day and he’s become a close friend I can’t possibly live without.

But what happens when I start seeing him in a different light? When I become jealous and possessive of him when another guy shows his interest? When I finally get a taste of his sweet lips and want more?

Should I just ignore all of it? I definitely should.

Daniel is too good for me. What could a forty-three-year-old with more baggage than an airport luggage carousel possibly offer him?
Our friendship is at risk…or maybe it’s just in need of some adjustments.

Content warning: This is an MM story, book two in the After Forty series. It contains an MC with a neurodiverse condition, strong language, very hot sexual scenes and hilarious side characters. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone.

Review –

Daniel, 30, and Pete, 43, were introduced in The Plus-One Entanglement. And I have to say, after reading reviews of both, I’m in the minority because I like this book much better than that one. There was a bit of a creep factor in Jordan and Asher’s relationship that wasn’t in Pete and Daniel’s. Pete had anger issues, but they were barely a blip compared to how they could be. In the present anyway. Apparently, it was pretty bad in the past.

Daniel started working for Ink-Me, Kaiden and Pete’s (I think?) tattoo shop three months or so ago. Pete immediately jumped into protector mode with the new tattoo artist. Their relationship was odd, but not in a bad way. I just didn’t understand how they got to the point they were at when Daniel is so shy and Pete is so standoffish. None of that was explained. In both books, they were close, they hugged a lot, Pete would kiss him on his forehead… that type of thing. I wanted to know what got them to that point, where it all began.

Pete is Daniel’s protector. They spend a lot of time together, both at work and away from it. They watch rom-coms together – at Daniel’s urging – and they act like a couple in every way other than sexual. Things come to a head of sorts in their relationship when Pete comes up on a barista flirting with Daniel. Suddenly what Pete’s feeling goes beyond just wanting to protect Daniel, to be his friend. Things get really strained between them when Daniel starts pulling away and stops sharing everything with him when he always had before.

I understood where Daniel was coming from. He was secretly head over heels in love with Pete, but he felt that Pete saw him as somebody who needed to be coddled and protected, not someone he wanted to spend his life with romantically. Even so, I felt bad for Pete when Daniel was pulling away. They’d been so close and then suddenly their friends knew things that Daniel hadn’t even shared with Pete when he’d pretty much always told Pete everything. What Daniel doesn’t know is that Pete’s wanting him in ways that go way beyond friendship.

It takes a major jealousy episode before Pete finally does something about it, but it was one of those one step forward, two steps back things. That happened quite a bit throughout the entire book, unfortunately. They’d be moving forward but then something would shove them back again.

When they finally have sex, it’s really hot, and there’s a LOT of it after the first time. While I’m all about good sex in the books I read, I did feel like sometimes sex was being used by them to keep from talking about things that they really needed to talk about.

Daniel was pretty much an open book. Pete, not so much. I know he grew up with Kaiden and Jordan, and considered them brothers. I know Pete, like them, had a pretty bad childhood which led to his anger issues. I also know that Pete had never been in any type of relationship before.

The truth is I don’t like most people. They annoy me and I make sure to let them know. The only person I care about is my mom, but I mean, she’s my mom. It’s only natural. And Kaiden and Jordie, but I’ve known them since we were kids. We’ve gone through so much shit together and we support each other when the need arises.

Daniel has ADHD. I have ADHD, diagnosed when I was in my thirties. I understood the symptoms of his ADHD in some ways, though I know everybody is different. Daniel constantly needs music playing to keep him calm. He’s almost always wearing his ear pods. I have to have background noise, but not music. Music actually distracts me, but I can turn the TV on early in the morning, leave it on all day, and not be able to tell you one thing about anything that had aired. Silence makes me antsy, though antsy is not a strong enough word. So, like I said, I understood him to an extent.

The only time Daniel didn’t need the music was when he was with Pete, who calmed him. That was so aww.

Pete had a softer side that only came out with Daniel. It was so sweet to watch, even if he did battle himself over his feelings. It was nice watching as he allowed himself to love Daniel the way Daniel so obviously loved him.

I love a good age gap story, especially if it’s friends to lovers like this one. Pete and Daniel were as different as night and day, another thing I love. You can’t not love the cover, and the sex was off the charts hot.

What I didn’t love was the constant use of exclamation points. One or two, fine. Every single time there’s a little bit of excitement and during sex? Distracting as hell, and it seriously takes away from the story. I knocked off a half-star for that reason.

Overall, a really good story. Like I said above, I enjoyed it much more than the first book that had me shaking my head a little. I’m eager to read Kaiden’s book. We already know (suspect) who his love interest will be. I’m curious to finally see the two of them together. So far, it’s just been talk.

I’ll be reading the others in the series.