Title: Seattle Stories 1: After Ben
Author: Con Riley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Theo Anderson, Adam Morgan
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
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 gun shy. 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.
Every once in a while I’ll come across a book that is so realistically told; I could easily believe the story could be happening to a relative or a friend. I swear I could almost feel the intense loss of Theo’s partner through every move and word he made, but I also appreciated how Theo was able to work through his grief and open himself to falling in love again.
Ever since Theo’s partner passed away, he’s been going through the motions of life. He’s aware that others want him to get out and enjoy life more, but Theo is unable to do it all at once. Instead, he takes it slowly and at an even pace that feels right for him. Unable to really connect well face to face with others, he joins a political chat room and finds himself becoming friends with a funny and snarky commenter, Morgan.
As he and Morgan start exchanging instant messages and emails, their relationship slowly starts to develop and take shape. Theo begins to think of Morgan more often, and becomes attracted to Morgan, even though he doesn’t know who he really is, or what he looks like. After time, when Theo finds out Morgan’s identity, he becomes faced with the decision of allowing himself possible finding love again, or being alone with his memories of his past lover forever.
There’s nothing I didn’t like about Theo. Although he’s suffered a great loss, Theo is really stronger than he gives himself credit for. He’s intelligent, funny and practically lived and breathed off of the written page. I liked how he’s able to pick himself up after losing the life he cherished and loved with his partner, Ben, and was able to allow himself to be able to love again. I felt empathy for his loss, and really hoped he’d be able to work through the devastation of losing Ben. Theo was a character I really was able to rally behind and I loved his huge capacity to open himself up to love again.
Morgan was another character I really loved. He’s witty, snarky and kept Theo on his toes. I enjoyed the rapport and the friendship that he and Theo had together, and loved watching their relationship evolve into something truly special. I also appreciated how Morgan wasn’t really threatened by Ben, and it showed real love and maturity for him to willingly share Theo’s heart (and life) with him.
There’s not a lot of action or mystery to this book. Instead it focuses on the characters’ lives. I liked the slow buildup between Theo and Morgan and really appreciated watching them come to terms with their feelings for each other, and also become determined to have something special together. I also liked how Theo’s grief and feelings of loss from losing his lover wasn’t just swept under the rug. I thought the whole story was very well-written and it lived in my thoughts long after I finished the book.
After Ben is a perfect read for those craving a slow building romance with humanly flawed characters, that deal with the speed bumps life often throws your way. This is the first book I’ve read by Con Riley and it definitely won’t be my last. I enjoyed the intensity of the storyline and the sweet and not-so-easy romance the author portrayed. If you are looking for a romance that has an authentic storyline with characters you’d be proud to call friends in your own life, After Ben is definitely the story for you. Highly Recommended.
Reviewed By: Gabbi