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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 being together. Tanner was new to this, 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.
4 of 5 stars
Paul Morey is one of my favorite narrators. He gives Steve this lovely Southern accent and Tanner a nicely “clueless” tonality that really works for this story.
Mike is given this dumb-guy voice and he made me giggle. I think that listening to this was a wonderful way to experience this story and it added to my enjoyment immensely.
Audio 5 of 5 stars
Overall 4.5 of 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I actually chose this story because I have previously enjoyed orhers read by the same actor. In this case however the voice for the character "Steven" came across too old for a smoking hot 39 yr old.
The story lacked content. But was sweet.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Jesse's Diner the most enjoyable?
Paul Morey nails the characters - Tanner comes across as unassuming whilst Steve as stronger yet full of care and compassion. Even though I had read the book, the narration added to my personal world-building rather than overtook it.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Jesse's Diner?
Rather than a moment, I loved the build up of the relationship from friendly dinners into something more.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
The restaurant-painting one :)
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
You can really feel Tanner's internal dialogue being worked through, and Steve's encouragement in all aspects of their relationship.
Any additional comments?
Although it's a short story, it has the depth and character/relationship development of a much longer one. A lovely supplement to the written book.
Any additional comments?
Tanner fell for Mike's dad, 6 years ago and never stopped. Steve is mourning the loss of his partner, and Tanner's mentor, Jesse. Tanner never thought taking Steve dinner, cos Mike asked him to check up on him, would change his life.
There comes along, once in a while, a book that gives you the warm and fuzzy feeling that lasts for days. THIS is such a book.
Tanner noticed Steve right away, and kept his silence all this time, because Steve was in mourning. Steve also noticed Tanner, but not quite in the same way. That they did was picked up. A single phone call pushed them both over.
Its written entirely from Tanner's POV in the first person. Not my favourite, as you know. But here?? Don't care. Tanner is so deliciously young and naïve, so smitten with Steve, I don't care. Besides, Steve has a lot to say and he more than makes up for it.
Its only short, just under and hour and a half reading time for me, but it packs quite and warm and fuzzy punch. There is no drama, no break up/make up, no danger, no crime, none of that. What there, is a beautifully love story of two men falling in love. THATS IT!! BUT I mean this in a good way, a very good way.
It's not as explicit as some Cardeno C books, but again, a good thing. What is here, is beautifully written, deliciously told.
This is book two in the Hope series, you don't need to have read book one, Jared is mentioned, briefly, so we get none of Jared and Lucas. I do wonder if the sheriff is next, after his midnight phone call??
Thank you, for the warm and fuzzies.
I bought my ebook copy.
I was also given the opportunity to review this book in AUDIO.
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian I Dig Good Books, I was gifted my audio copy.
Paul Morey narrates and he does a sterling job!!
When I'm READING a book, I much prefer to read books written in multi POV and in the third person. However, I've discovered, mainly with Cardeno C's help, that when LISTENING I much prefer single POV, in the first person. I loved this book when reading, and I loved it MORE when listening.
Morey's reading voice is clear and even, and I had no trouble with the sound or the reading. Morey's voice for Tanner was just as I imagined it, but for Steve, I found Morey's voice a much better fit that what I heard while reading. I do that, you know, hear voices when reading. I'm sure others do, but I do it more since using audio files. Morey's voice is PERFECT for Steve, and Mike too.
Morey narrates McFarland's Farm too, and I thought I had listening to it, but can't find the review if I did. I want to go back, and listen to it, just because :-)
2 hours and 49 minutes of warm and fuzzies all over again.
**same worded review will appear on Goodreads, Audible.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk**