Title: Clarity of Lines (Thomas Elkin #2)
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Totally Bound
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella/32K words
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Review Summary: This sequel to Tom’s and Cooper’s story convinced me that their love is the real deal and that for them the age difference was of no consequence.
When some lines blur, others become crystal clear.
Absolutely smitten, Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones have decided they’re prepared to give a relationship a try.
What they’re not prepared for is the reaction from their families, who try to force them apart. Both men are about to learn that there are lines that define us. Sometimes the lines blur, sometimes the lines become crystal clear.
Thomas Elkin Series
N.R.Walker has written a wonderful, enjoyable sequel to Elements of Retrofit that made a believer out of me about the longevity of the romance between Tom and Cooper, and in the process she provided a template for other authors who write May/December stories to emulate. The love between the guys was so strong it bled out all over the pages and I adored the MCs even more in this sequel.
I reviewed Elements of Retrofit (Thomas Elkin Book One) two months ago and although I liked the story a lot as well as Cooper and his much older lover Tom, it seemed improbable that a 44 year old man and a twenty two year old would find lasting happiness together. In my review of EoR I wondered what would happen to the relationship years down the road and I hoped that the author would write a sequel so that I could see how her protagonists weathered being together almost 24/7 after the first flush of lust had run its course, and if a believable HEA was in the cards. Clarity of Lines is that sequel, and what a great conclusion!
The story opens with the guys trying to meld their different lifestyles and tastes from music to friends and family, and the challenges each entails. For example, Cooper wanted Tom to accompany him to a Linkin Park concert at Madison Square Gardens and of course Tom is clueless about the band and has no interest in going to the concert. In the middle of their negotiations 🙂 about the concert Tom’s ex wife Sophia called to invite him and his “friend” to his son Ryan’s birthday party at her house in the Hamptons.
This was their first “outing” as a couple and it didn’t go well as it was obvious when they arrived that his ex had not accepted his homosexuality or the divorce and was hoping for a reconciliation. Consequently, she was not kindly disposed towards Tom and his very young boyfriend as the reality of seeing him in love with a man who was also Ryan’s best friend stared her in the face. This was only the start of the challenges Tom and Cooper had to meet head on: family acceptance, friends’ expectations, lifestyle, generation X vs generation Y, varying tastes in music and other forms of entertainment, one partner with a lot of money and the other with nothing except student debts, one partner established and very well respected in his career and the other just starting out.
In this book we find out more about Tom’s background and his life with Sophia. It was apparent to him all along that he was at least bi, and he had had a few experiences with other men before he married Sophia. He went into the marriage because he didn’t want anyone, especially his father who paid for his education, to suspect he was gay as he would most definitely not understand and probably would not continue to fund his education. Tom had been in the closet his entire adult life but did not admit he was gay until he reached his 39th birthday when he knew that he couldn’t enter another decade without admitting the truth to his son and wife, both of whom were devastated when he confessed. Five years later everyone was still living with the consequences of his coming out although Ryan and Tom had made peace with each other and had a very good relationship, despite Ryan’s friend Cooper being his father’s lover.
I loved all the fun that Cooper and Tom had together and how they made sure that each other was the #1 priority. They obviously had a common interest in architecture but others were divergent as would be expected of any couple with such a large age difference, They constantly challenged each other and it was great to see how they worked out boundaries. As for the sex, wow! they were like rabbits – they couldn’t keep their hands off each other but Tom was up to the challenge. I loved how Cooper made sex fun and his “intermissions,” which was another word for when he needed a sex break. 🙂
Their relationship continued to be tested but it was when there was a family crisis that Cooper showed his true strength and why he was perfect for Tom as he took charge and focused on being supportive to Tom at a time when he needed him the most. Stress tends to show people’s true colours and it was no different for Tom and Cooper. As Tom said in a very moving speech about his father:
“He taught me that solid foundations gave me strength and stability. He taught me that the only principles of design should be honesty and integrity, and above all, that there was a truth in the lines that we drew …. every design has a clarity of lines. Lines that bound it, that define it, that make it – lines that sometimes other people can’t see ….. sometimes the lines seem undefined, but they aren’t blurred at all. Sometimes they are crystal clear.”
Sofia was initially portrayed as the usual betrayed wife who couldn’t let go but I was pleased that in the end she redeemed herself and proved that she was capable of being gracious and accepting Cooper as her husband’s lover, making peace with him because she realized Tom’s love for him would not change. As for Lionel the doorman, he was was one of my favourite characters in both books, along with Ryan. If I had a criticism, and this is probably just me being picky, I thought that Tom’s name for Cooper “you little shit” was overused and became repetitious; and the term “pecked at his lips” reminded me of birds. 😆 Maybe it’s an Aussie term, 🙂
I love this author’s writing and this book proved how right I was to have her on my auto buy list which is very short. The dialogue was sparkling, the characters were exceptionally well crafted, and although the plot wasn’t complicated the relationships sure were complex, which made the story engrossing.
Clarity of Lines is not a standalone book so you must read Elements of Retrofit first or you won’t get the full flavour of Tom’s and Cooper’s wonderful journey.