The Bench is a sweet second chance, bi-awakening novella from Jess K. Hardy, who is a new-to-me author...
From the blurb:
Public defender James has been in self-imposed dating jail since his divorce, but Noah, the gorgeous dad he met at the playground, has him considering parole. Their kids are best friends, they have a lot in common, and they're both single. It's almost too perfect, except for one tiny detail: Noah is straight.
City planner Noah's terrible year started when his wife left him for their twenty-year-old neighbor. Ever since he met James though, things have been looking up. James is smart and kind and now Noah—whose only romantic experience with men was a brain-scrambling spin-the-bottle kiss in high school—is utterly confused because he can't stop thinking about him.
During playdates, sleepovers, and steamy sexting sessions, these sensitive and loving dads will discover even broken, uncertain hearts can still find love. When a dark family secret threatens Noah's daughter, they'll learn two dads are better than one.
CW: domestic abuse
One thing that struck me about The Bench is that it's complete within the compact confines of less than 80 pages, with reasonably well developed main and side characters and good world building. It does move fairly quickly, as you would expect from a novella, but that doesn't detract from the main story. This book straddles the balance between sweet and steamy well.
There are definitely some triggers, as mentioned in the blurb - domestic abuse and I'd go a step further to say mentions of child abuse. I would have liked just a little more expansion on the climax scene and the aftermath, but otherwise this was a really satisfying read.
The Bench was a great introduction to this author and I will look forward to reading more!
Rating: 5 Stars