After Ben by Con Riley

Title:  After Ben

Series:  Seattle Stories, # 1

Author:  Con Riley

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  Novel (300 pages)

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (July 16th, 2012)

Heat Level:  Medium

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:   A year after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben, Theo Anderson is still grieving. The last thing he’s looking for is a new lover. But as Theo soon discovers, sometimes life has other plans.

While Theo experiences a powerful physical attraction to fellow gym member Peter, it’s his new online friend, Morgan, who provides the intellectual challenge to make him come alive. Morgan is witty, brave, and irreverent, and Theo is ready to take the plunge… until he discovers Morgan might be half his age.

Theo’s late partner was significantly older—enough to strain Theo’s relationship with his family—and the potential of another relationship being cut short leaves him gunshy. Theo needs to lay Ben’s memory to rest, reconcile with his family, and rekindle neglected friendships if he’s to start afresh with a new lover. But Theo isn’t the only one with a past.

His biggest challenge, in living after Ben, might not be his to face.

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Reviewer:   Any

Review: There are so many things to love about this book.

I particularly appreciated these things:

1) The author is very good at hooking the reader with clever, well-written sentences at the end of scenes and chapters. The opening sentence is a great example: “Sometimes, just sometimes, Theo forgot he was single.”

Brilliant. It opened up so many questions for me that I needed to read on.

2) The story is emotion driven.

3) Characters and relationships are complex, not all honky-dory.

4) The fact Morgan and Theo get it on in the later part of the book, so the sex doesn’t overshadow the plot and therefore (at least the first time they meet and do the deed) it’s more intimate.

About 80% of the book I really enjoyed, certainly the first half felt quite refreshing, slow but I felt I was really discovering the character.

However, there were a couple of things that didn’t quite do it for me and this is where I found myself starting to skip: The flashbacks. Some of the ones with Ben were important for the main story line and character development, but sometimes there were too many and it felt unbalanced to the central romance. I could have done with about half of them.

Also, even some of the current story was written in flashback. Theo would go home to his mum and dad and then think about what’d happened with Morgan or his interns etc, when I feel this might have been more effective if those scenes played out in current time.

And, the last little thing that wasn’t for me was very little sex, to way too much. I’m talking about balance here. That first explosive sex scene between Theo and Morgan was wonderful, but it quickly got boring the more they went at it (especially when other plot points were still open — like what happened to Morgan and more on those issues, which I would have found more fascinating to focus on). I guess, for me, it felt not quite right considering the slower, more emotionally intimate beginning.

One thing that I am GLAD I knew before reading, otherwise I would have been disappointed, was that Peter is NOT the love interest, although he is lovely and has (I thought) a spark with Theo and they do get physically close. If I had NOT known he wasn’t the main love interest, I would have anticipated Morgan being Peter . . . (especially for the first half of the book) I would have thought that maybe Peter was Peter Morgan. In fact, I know myself as a reader, and I would have been secretly hoping that was the case. However, knowing that going into the story helped and I had not much issue with that little plot.

In fact, I really loved Peter. I would LOVE to read his story. Also, I would be interested in Evan’s brother’s story as well. I have temporarily forgotten his name, but I got the feeling there could be an interesting story there . . .

I absolutely loved the Jory and Evan’s story. Such characters, lovely side romance. 😀

All in all, I liked this story. I think this is going to be one of those authors that just gets better and better and I can’t wait to see how she develops her next books.