Elliott Thompson was once a historian with a promising academic future, but his involvement in a scandal meant a lost job, public shame, and a ruined love life. He took shelter in his rural California hometown, where he teaches online classes, hoards books, and despairs of his future.
Simon Odisho has lost a job as well—to a bullet that sidelined his career in law enforcement. While his shattered knee recovers, he rethinks his job prospects and searches for the courage to come out to his close-knit but conservative extended family.
In an attempt to manage his overflowing book collection, Elliott builds a miniature neighborhood library in his front yard. The project puts him in touch with his neighbors—for better and worse—and introduces him to handsome, charming Simon. While romance blooms quickly between them, Elliott’s not willing to live in the closet, and his best career prospects might take him far away. His books have plenty to tell him about history, but they give him no clues about a future with Simon.
A blurb containing the words “historian,” “hoards books,” “overflowing book collection,” and “neighborhood library” is bound to attract my attention. I’m a book hoarder, too, but most of my books are of the electronic kind, so I can’t make a cute little library with them. But when I settle down in a place where I’m going to spend the rest of my life, I’m going to hoard physical books too, and THEN I can do a library just like Elliott did and spread joy and books to my neighbors.
A book written by Kim Fielding is also bound to attract my attention. She’s one of my favorite authors, and this book didn’t disappoint. Elliott is a very intellectual guy and he analyzes every little detail in his head. For example when he goes on a “date that’s not a date” with a guy from his sister-in-law’s job:
Elliott analyzed that statement. Did it mean Kyle didn’t really care about the not-date, or was he trying to minimize its apparent important? And how about that handshake? Had it been too short or too long? Was the amount of eye contact sufficient? Had Kyle looked disappointed when he caught sight of Elliott?
Elliott kind of reminds me of myself; I also tend to over-analyze everything so I can relate. Maybe that’s why I love him so much.
Simon is a genuinely likable guy with a huge family. He has lots of insecurities, his body is one of them, and he fears coming out to his family. Both MCs are at a crossroads in their lives, and they’re trying to decide how to move forwards, and I love how that aspect was explored in this book. What do you do when your life suddenly takes a turn you didn’t expect? How do you live up to society’s expectations on you, or your own expectations on yourself for that matter?
It’s a quiet book. Nothing much happens, and at the same time lots of things happen. Elliott and Simon meet and like each other immediately and they have to decide what to do about it. It’s not that they don’t want to be together; on the contrary. But the circumstances make it difficult. Simon isn’t out, and Elliott doesn’t want to be a dirty secret; he had enough of that in his last relationship. Elliott is looking for a job and a history professor in a narrow field can’t be picky, so he applies for jobs all over the country. How can he make a relationship with Simon work if he gets a job in Nebraska?
But here’s the thing. Elliott and Simon handle those issues by talking about them. Like two responsible adults who refuse to sweep any problems they have under the rug. And OMG, talking is so sexy!! (Almost as sexy as consent!) I’m sick and tired of misunderstandings, of characters not communicating, and of assumptions made only on the basis of half the facts. And this book is the complete opposite of that.
This book does not have chest-pounding alpha males or big drama or excitement. But it’s quiet and thoughtful and intelligent and romantic, with two flawed characters who are doing their best to navigate life together. And that is just the kind of book I love.
Buy link: Amazon