Guest Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Jesse’s Diner
Author: Cardeno C.
Series: Hope #2
Heroes: Tanner Sellers/Steve Faus
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 112 Pages
Publisher: Cardeno C.
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Available at: Amazon and Smashwords
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.
Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.
Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.
Review: Tanner is 22 years old, he inherited the diner he owns from Jesse. Jesse is the father of Tanner’s friend from high school, Mike, and was the partner of Steve, Mike’s other dad. Jesse died 18 months ago, leaving Tanner the diner because Tanner had been working there since moving to Hope 6 years ago.
Tanner has had a crush on Steve since they met, but thought it was hopeless. Steve was in a relationship, too old for Tanner, and out of his league. Now that Steve is alone, not much has changed, except that Mike has asked Tanner to “check-up” on Steve to make sure he’s doing okay on his own.
Steve was a workaholic sales rep who has changed his life after the death of Jesse. He’s a commitment type of guy and since his loss, he hasn’t met anyone worthy of a relationship. Tanner was always under his radar and now that he’s been hanging around so much all of the sudden, Steve is giving him the attention he deserves.
Though this isn’t a short story, it reads like one, so I want to be careful not to give away too many secrets, because there are a few surprises in this.
At first it seems like a simple story of May/December love, or about finding love after losing a partner, or jock meets nerd (Steve was a football player and Tanner is very reserved and slight physically). But… it’s not. There’s another, deeper layer to this story. There are things in Steve’s past that have shaped who he is and his relationship with Jesse is more complex than you’d guess.
Though Tanner is young, he’s a very mature 22, since he’s been raising himself for years.
Cardeno always does a great job of writing these “clueless” guys and then showing them the light. Tanner reminds me a bit of Samuel from In Your Eyes. The story is told from his perspective and in the first person, and Tanner spends a lot of time in his own head and has a hard time voicing his emotions.
I didn’t get as good a read on Steve, but he’s definitely the more social and outgoing of the pair. I liked watching him “show” Tanner about love and relationships, he was sweet, sexy and funny, too.
However, there were parts of this story that didn’t work for me as well. I wanted more about Steve’s past and his relationship with Jesse. It felt incomplete somehow. I feel like I missed some of his evolution and though I understand a bit of how he and Jesse worked as a couple, I didn’t quite have a handle on it and so it kind of blocked my way to giving him up to Tanner freely. I get that they had a totally different type of relationship, but somehow I wanted more closure there.
I also think that the “heavy” issue needed a bit more discussion. I think it’s a pretty big deal and it felt a little too casual for me in this instance.
I really wanted the “reveal” about Steve asking Tanner out on an official date to be more of an “a-ha!” moment. It lacked that POW! – where Tanner realizes he’s going to FINALLY get his dream man. The same goes for their first time having sex. Tanner was a virgin, so I was expecting it to be more of a “thing”. Seeing how excited Tanner would get just imagining Steve naked, I was expecting a really powerful first time and it sort of fizzled rather than exploded.
That being said, it’s still a Cardeno C book, so it was still wonderful. I loved the premise and the characters and felt happy at the end for both of them, but I just wanted a little bit… more, I guess.
I think fans of the author and the series will love it and it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.
Overall Impression: I really liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*