Title: Never Too Late
Author: Chris Quinton
Publisher: Self published
Cover Art: Meredith Russell
Buy Links: Buy LinkAmazon , ARE
Length: Novella (16.500 words)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This is a feelgood read if there ever was one
The Blurb: The old sugar maple features strongly in Stuart’s life. He’d first met Harry here, while he was completing a college project. He’d been eighteen, Harry twenty-one. They’d started dating soon after. Harry had proposed under the maple—down on one knee, the whole nine yards. Under its branches, they’d decided to buy a house together, and here, many years later, Stuart had scattered Harry’s ashes.
For six years Stuart has been alone. He feels he’s had his chance at love, and doesn’t expect to find anyone else. Then he meets Tom. But Tom is twenty years his junior, and Stuart can’t take that in his stride.
Their age difference is irrelevant to Tom. He knows Stuart is it for him, the one man who can give him everything he didn’t know he needed, and he can offer the same to Stuart. All he has to do is convince Stuart to give them a chance. Once again Old Man Maple is witness to life-changing decisions.
NB – shorter version previously published in the anthology Silver Presents… Love Is Love
After losing his husband six years previously, 47-year old Stuart had to go into early retirement from his stressful management job after a heart attack of his own. His days are now filled with taking photographs of trees in the Arboretum and blogging about them–and currently with dog-sitting his elderly neighbor’s five small pooches while she’s away.
This is how Stuart first meets Tom, his neighbor’s granddaughter Deanna’s best friend. Deanna comes to her grandmother’s house to recuperate from a bad breakup with her boyfriend, accompanied by Tom, who’s gay, smokin’ hot and seriously interested in Stuart. But, and that’s the book’s (and Stuart’s) biggest but: Tom is twenty years younger than Stuart.
Tom is sweet, considerate, mature beyond his years and in dire need of something solid in his life, someone to ground him and help him deal with all the heartbreak and stress he meets during his job as an ER nurse. Stuart is a steady personality, serene and relaxed, but still curious and open for new experiences. They’re each other’s perfect match; not only Deanna can see that right away. But there’s the age difference which particularly Stuart has such a hard time to get over that he almost didn’t give Tom and himself a chance, even though he wants Tom as badly–if not more–as vice versa. However, Tom is determined to get through the walls that Stuart had built around his heart.
This book was just wonderful in its quiet optimistic sweetness. The characteristics were really good, even the dogs were close to “persons” in their own rights, and the trees, particularly the sugar maple that’s mentioned in the blurb, was almost a character of its own.
Both Tom and Stuart were very likable main characters. Stuart had this absolutely understandable hangup about their age difference (which he, admittedly, brought up so often that it got a bit tiresome) since even Tom’s father was younger than Stuart. But I completely bought him and Tom together; Tom might be young, but he knows very well what he wants.
They spend about a week spending time together, getting to know each other, doing nothing more “serious ” than kissing. After that time, and this was my only issue with this book, Tom knows that Stuart is “it” for him and proceeds to change his whole life accordingly. Admittedly, Stuart was rather trigger than the reason for a long overdue change in Tom’s life, but the way everything came together in the end for them appeared overly convenient, bordering on fairy-taleish.
Then again, this is fiction, right? This is romance, after all. And if you’re able to let yourself fall into the gentle, warm flow of this story, you–like I did–will read this book with a smile on your lips and close it with a wistful sigh.