Title: After Ben
Author: Con Riley
Publication Date: July 15, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Cut to Theo Anderson, still working on finding his way after the death of his long-time partner, Ben, just a year ago. Try as he might, Theo hasn’t been able to find a way to move on or even to reconnect to the world. A glimmer of hope shines through when he meets Peter at the gym, but it may not be enough to help him find a way to cope. But when he forms an unexpected friendship with Morgan on an internet discussion forum, he wonders if maybe he has finally found exactly what he needs. But will Morgan live up to his expectations in person? What if they don’t connect the same way offline? Can Theo really move past Ben, the love of his life? And who is Morgan, really?

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. When it started, I thought it was a bit slow and that it was going to be page after page of reliving Theo’s grief. (Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair share of that – but I think it’s necessary for the reader to truly understand the intensity of his connection, which is something we can’t get from Theo’s present, as Ben is no longer around.) But it turned out to be a story of love and loss, finding your way in the world when you don’t think you can, recognizing that things don’t always go as planned but they still go on, and that as long as we stay hung up on our preconceptions about what we deserve and what life should be – we can never expect more from ourselves. There’s some definite emotional moments in this one (and a few steamy moments, too), but it’s a touching tale and one I certainly recommend. I’m looking forward to the next book and learning more about this group of guys…