Reviewed: December 12, 2012
Genre: LGBT - M/M Contemporary Romance
Series: Men of Smithfield, Book 2
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 101 Pages
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
It was supposed to be a simple weekly massage, routine and uneventful, albeit relaxing and the only thing that has provided Seth Weston any relief from the tension in his life. His twin sister, dead. Her six-year-old daughter, Molly, now his to raise. His former boyfriend, gone...along with most of his money. All of that is constantly grinding together into a mountain of stress that buries him deep on a daily basis.
So he needs that massage.
He got a lot more than he bargained for when his normal masseuse was unavailable and the young, fey-looking David Cooke took her place. Gorgeous the young man may be, but too out there, too wild in clothing, style, and temperament to be taken even remotely seriously. And Seth is all about taking things seriously.
At least he always has been, until the massage David provides ends in a much more...relaxing (for Seth) manner than either men had been anticipating. David, on the other hand, was less than amused. And if it had been any less explosive for Seth, he would probably be mortified. Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Honestly, all Seth truly cared about was making sure David became his new weekly masseur, regardless.
He didn't expect to keep running into the young man every time he turns around, though, and he sure didn't expect to feel such an irresistible attraction to someone so obviously ill-suited for him. But expectations aside, the more time he spends with David, the more Seth starts to wonder if the a man so obviously Mr. Wrong in every way that's ever mattered to him before may just be the one and only man he truly needs.
There were so many very good things about this second installment of Gregg's Men of Smithfield series. I think, overall, it's a smoother, more defined story with the sort of depth and attention to detail that I felt was lacking in the first. There was also another small suspense thread that had marginally more impact on the overall story than the one in the first book.
And of course the sex in this one was just as hot, if not hotter.
David was a total doll from start to finish, and Molly was a cutie-pie. Gregg did a great job with her character, incorporating some of the long-term effects of childhood loss and balancing them nicely with the natural resiliency of children. It made Molly seem very authentic, and she was a delightful presence in the narrative. I just wish I was able to warm up to Seth.
I can appreciate that he was intended to be a flawed character. His being a sanctimonious, judgmental, elitist, standoffish prick was intentional. I get that. The problem for me was both the first impression he made in the massage parlor and the persistence and frequency with which he made such a flagrant ass out of himself. By the time I factored in his unrelenting self-absorption, his character held little appeal, and I grew more and more annoyed with him as the story progressed.
Don't get me wrong, I felt for his losses and wanted to sympathize with the guy, but his character didn't exactly leave a lot of room for sympathy. And where flawed characters tend to be redeemed by the end of a story, especially in romance, I think in Seth's case it was too little too late for my taste. Frankly, I kept wishing David would just put his foot down and really let Seth have it for all the criticism and offense Seth gave the poor guy.
Because Seth was such a jerk for so long in the story, the romance suffered and ultimately failed to touch me the way that Mark and Tony's did in the first book. For all that this story was, in my opinion, a more well-rounded and fully developed tale than its predecessor, my issues with Seth kept it from being as entertaining as I was hoping.
There's no disappointment with the amount of sizzle, though. Smithfield, too, maintained its charm as the perfect quirky backdrop for this very quirky series. With the stronger storytelling this book provides, I have high hopes for the next in the series and look forward to my next stop through town.
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