Letting go is the hardest thing a person can do…
Robert Harper has spent the past seventeen years living for his son. He doesn’t know who he is if he’s not being a caregiver and protector all rolled into one.
Niall Ross is finally ready to make a life of his own. After years spent making sure his younger brother had everything he needed, it’s time for Niall to discover who he is.
All it takes is one glance across a crowded meeting room for the men to feel a connection, but Robert is terrified his life is too complicated for the other man. Luckily, Niall has patience in abundance. With a little help from Robert’s meddling family, the two begin a tentative relationship.
Just as they’re finding their footing, all of Robert’s worst fears come to life and he falters under the pressure. Niall takes the challenge to show Robert that he’s a safe place to lean on, but when his own life begins to unravel, he places his heart in Robert’s hands. When two independent men are forced to trust each other will the love win out, or will vulnerability and fear cause them to lose the best thing they didn’t even know they had.
Book Title: The Art of Living
Author: Abrianna Denae
Cover Artist: Pretty in Ink Creations
Release Date: June 10, 2021
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Tropes: Single dad, hurt/comfort, office romance, slow burn
Themes: Trust, meddling family
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 35 000 words/ 90 pages
It is a standalone book, though the reader may be interested in The Gift of Believing, a companion book featuring the MC’s son: mybook.to/GoB
“You really want me to date?”
Garrett nods. “I want you to live your life. I know you’re going to argue and say that you have everything you need with me, and Uncle Jared, and Sam. Maybe that’s true, but I also can’t help but feel guilty because if I wasn’t me then maybe you’d have found someone else by now.”
“Garrett, no, you know that’s not true,” I say gently. “Those other people I dated when you were younger, they didn’t last because they weren’t right for our family. If anyone can’t handle me and everything I come with, then they’re not worth my time.”
He studies me with those dark, wise eyes of his. “Does this mean you’ll give Niall a chance then? Because he’s different, I can feel it.”
Shit. I walked right into that one.
“Yeah,” I sigh. “I’d be open to trying.”
Garrett smiles and whips out his phone. I don’t bother asking who he’s texting, since the pieces are starting to slowly fall into place. I look at Presley, “They planned this, didn’t they?”
Pres smiles and nods. “Jared thought you both needed a little intervention.”
I shake my head and laugh a bit because my family is insane.
Garrett is still texting away while Presley and I clean up the kitchen. I try to tell Pres that he doesn’t need to help since he and Gare cooked, but he waves me off.
I just get the dishwasher started when my phone rings. The display reads Niall and my mouth suddenly goes dry while my stomach begins to tie itself into knots.
Both boys stare at me as I accept the call. “Hello?”
“Hi,” pause, and then Niall laughs, “This is more awkward than I thought it’d be.”
I smile and turn away from the teenage busybodies. “I seriously doubt whatever you have to say is more awkward than the dinner I just had.”
He laughs again. “They tried to butter you up with food, huh?”
I groan. “Yes. When’d they get to you?”
“Sam talked to me this afternoon. Then they added me to a group chat a few hours ago and promptly blew up my phone with texts about twenty minutes or so ago.”
I sigh. “I’m sorry about them.”
“It’s fine,” Niall assures. “They’re just looking out for you.”
“They’re nosy and need to learn how to mind their own business.” I look over my shoulder to find Garrett and Presley sitting at the table, hanging onto my every word. Shaking my head, I stride from the room in search of some privacy.
“So if I were to ask you to dinner, you’d say no?”
“I guess you should ask and find out.”
Niall chuckles a bit. “Will you have dinner with me, Robert?”
My heart stutters in my chest and it takes a moment for me to get my mouth working. “Yes,” I finally manage to say.
“Tomorrow is perfect.”
“I’ll text you the details unless someone else does it for me.”
I snort. “That’s a high possibility. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow,” he repeats. “Have a good night, Robert.”
The line goes dead and a part of me mourns the loss of his voice. Taking a steadying breath, I let the giddy feeling of a first date wash over me. I’ll never tell my family this, but I’m glad they decided to interfere with my life. I never would have had the guts to do this myself.
Tomorrow can’t come fast enough.
Having not read anything by this author, although I may go back and read the YA novella, this looked like a good one to start with.
I enjoyed this novella, and really liked the MC’s. Niall was kind and generous, and never tried to make Robert feel guilty when he was torn between what he wanted, and the health of his son. Niall knew what Robert’s first priority was, and was great at letting him know that he would never interfere. However, it really made it challenging for me to understand why Robert pushed Niall away, for that very reason. He just couldn’t handle having any other priority in his life, even if Niall knew he wasn’t first priority.
I did think at some point that the fact that Robert worked for Niall would become an issue in the book, but it never did. I really appreciated that, simply that they were both professionals, and could keep private and personal lives separate.
It was a nice, sweet story, with a little angst, and a lot of family love.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
Abrianna Denae is a twenty-four-year-old author living in Northern California. An English major, she has always had a passion for writing.
Deciding to sit down and write one of the many stories that had plagued her mind for years was the easy part—finding the time to do it was a different story.
Caffeine is her best friend, and sleep is her worst enemy.
A lover of books that make the reader feel something, she tries to incorporate as much of her real-world views and feelings into her stories as she can.
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