Saturday, December 17, 2011

"After the Sunset"

Review - "After the Sunset" by Mary Calmes

Touching and worthy sequel to "Timing"

Highly Recommended

"Everybody wants to touch you all the time.  I'm the only one who can't when I want to be the only one that can." 

After confessing his attraction to Stefan Joss and winning the man's love, Rand Holloway has talked him into moving to his ranch and starting a new life.  But Stef has been playing it safe, holding back.  Because Stef is a hard man to pin down, and even harder to make stay.  But that is what he wants to do for Rand.  Make a home, be a family.

So when he takes a job at the local community college two years after saying he will stay, Rand is finally, finally setting down some roots.  Because, just maybe, this is the real thing, and Rand will want him as much as he wants Rand.

"I won't ever tell you to pack your things and go, Stef".

So he stays.  And meets more of Rand's crazy family.  When Rand's cousin shows up at his door, and another calls for his assistance on his dude ranch, it will be the first introduction to Rand's father's side of the family.  And the animosity that exists with his uncle.  When Rand leaves to help, Stef gets a call for Rand that changes everything - gives him a chance to help Rand and the ranch, stand up as his equal partner to Rand's men, and strut his stuff at a rodeo.

But there is more involved than just showing up, and Stef finds himself in over his head, in more ways than one.  Can he help Rand out, or make a mess of things worse than are?  Or maybe, can he bring peace to warring family members?

Mary Calmes brings back two of my favorite characters of the past few years, Stef and Rand, in this touching, funny, wonderfully tender and worthy sequel to "Timing".  Stef is the perfect man, loyal friend, sexy lover, intelligent businessman, but his feet of clay make him so much more human.  And Rand, all sexy and gruff and alpha male, but weak in the knees when Stef looks at him.  The two of them together - so sweet and hot and right.

The true test here is how the relationship between these two very different men holds up under the secrets that come to light.  And Stef's determination to bring the family together for Rand, no matter the cost to himself.  It is a joy to watch, under Ms. Calmes' firm hand, gentle touch and expert pacing, as Stef drives the action, first at the ranch, then the rodeo.  His commitment to be true to his relationship with Rand is so refreshing, so clear and just so...Stef.

The astonishing thing here is how very real these two have become.  They have grown since "Timing", and become settled in their skins.  It would be so easy for Stef to stay the cute and cold user, and Rand the silent and stuffy jerk, but theie time together has softened the edges and allowed them to blur a little into one another. 

And really, isn't that what we all want?  A partner to rest and lean on when we are weak, and to be there for them when they need to be the weak one?  And that is what makes Ms.Calmes' works so great - she gets that men need each other.  And we need to be reminded of it.

One of my favorite works of this year.  Hell, of any year!


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