Wednesday, October 9, 2019

After Ben by Con Riley Blog Tour

No more kissing a ghost…

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 discovers, sometimes life has its own plans.

The strength of his attraction to fellow gym member Peter is surprising. So is how compelling he finds Morgan, a new friend he makes online. Morgan is witty and fierce on the internet forum they frequent, while Peter is physically present in a way that’s hard to ignore.

Both men bring Theo closer to acceptance: he needs to lay Ben’s memory to rest if he’s to start afresh with a new lover.

Getting honest about the reasons for his yearlong isolation means confronting why he lost Ben… only just when he’s ready to commit, Theo finds he isn't the only one haunted by the past.

Whether with Peter or with Morgan, choosing to love again—after Ben—might not be Theo’s toughest challenge.

Second Edition. Previously published by Dreamspinner Press.

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Book 1
Buy Links

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~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a book about the paralysing nature of grief and the terrifying prospect of somehow moving forward again without a loved one. It’s a raw and sometimes difficult read and the author does a beautiful job of exploring all of Theo’s conflicting emotions.

While this is a story about life, grief, and love, it isn’t a traditional romance. Most of the romantic moments in this book happen in Theo’s memories of his late partner, Ben. And the steamiest scene in this story is definitely a memory of Ben. The book starts a year after Ben’s death as Theo starts to reemerge from his grief and wakes to the world that has moved on around him. He makes an emotional connection online and a physical connection in person – but the story is very much about Theo’s internal journey rather than the sexual tension at the centre of a romance novel.

I really loved Theo in this book but I didn’t find this an easy read. The story feels fractured and while I understand that Theo distracts himself with the antics of his young interns, too much of the story is devoted to office politics. But then again, too much of Theo’s life and energy is devoted to his work. His life is pretty boring and fairly tedious. Which is the point. When we meet Theo, he’s more shadow than fully fleshed human. I understand – but Theo’s life does not make for an exciting read. Morgan and Peter remain peripheral, shadowy characters to the end. They are present to allow Theo to work through his issues, but they don’t fully come alive for readers.

There are a few moments of hope and potential at the end of this story. I like the way relationships are repaired and I like the way Theo finally gives himself permission to move forward. I’m not certain Theo is ready for a second chance at a happily ever after, but there are signs at the end that he might be ready to risk his heart again. This is an intense but satisfying read with a central character I quickly fell in love with.

I love the idea of finding love after your prior love passes away. This book had great potential but fell short for me. For one, I felt the story was being told to me, I didn't feel like I lived the story while reading it. Second, there was way too much of the book flashing back to times with Ben, and more telling instead of showing me and letting me feel like I was in the story. After a while, I got bored and would find myself skimming. Then we didn't know who Morgan was until almost the end of the book. The thing with Peter just seemed to be thrown to the wayside, then sends a text and says "oh, I've met someone" when Peter hadn't been talked about in forever. This book just fell short for me. If the next book is about Joel and Evan, then I might read it. They were the only characters I connected with.

CON RILEY lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean. Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time instead. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that make them live and breathe. When not people-watching or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of After Ben (Seattle Stories #1) by Con Riley to read and review for this tour.

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