Title: Sense of Place
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Totally Bound
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK
Review Summary: I thought Book 2 could not be topped but N.R. Walker saved the best for last – and this is the last book in the series. Great characterizations, a complicated plot, scintillating dialogue, and most of all, a romance in the best sense of the word
Designing homes is easy. Finding home is something else entirely.
Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones finally have the support of their families, and their love
grows stronger every day. Now living together, they think nothing can stand in their way.
But there are outside influences trying to pull them apart.
Cooper encounters a man, closer to his age and with connections high up the property
development chain, who wants Cooper as his own. Tom encounters discrimination and a
hidden agenda from a fellow senior partner who’s trying to take him down.
No matter what the world throws at them, Tom and Cooper are the real deal. Age differences
aside, Tom has finally found his sense of place. His one true center, his home
Thomas Elkin Series
Sense of place—a quality of design where the building and/or space
achieves a sensory, emotional and spiritual connection to the site in which it is placed.
When I reviewed Clarity of Lines here, the sequel to Elements of Retrofit, I thought it was the end of Tom’s and Cooper’s story and I was quite happy for this to be so as our MCs had grown a lot since they met and it was obvious that their love was real and would withstand the test of time. However, I found out just before I posted the review that there was another book in the series that was scheduled to be released in January. I was able to get a pre-release copy of Sense of Place which is such a wonderful story it will make romance aficionados go awww! 😀
The book opened two weeks after Cooper moved in with Tom and he was making his presence and “awesomeness” felt in every aspect of their lives. Now that they were an established couple they were very happy together but like most couples they had a few sensitive issues to resolve such as whether or not to have unprotected sex. In addition, Cooper had to figure out how to handle his first client who made it clear he wanted more than his professional services. Cooper demanded that Tom be more possessive and aggressive in public so that the client would know to whom he belonged, but Tom was very concerned about being so much older than Cooper and although he knew that Cooper loved him he still doubted his ability to keep him satisfied long term. To add to his stress, he was being harassed by another senior partner in the firm who made it clear that he didn’t want to work with someone who was gay and that he would do anything he could, even snooping to dig up dirt about his relationship with Cooper during his internship, in order to get rid of him. Another issue they faced was how to work around their busy business schedules which were becoming more challenging, with Cooper working impossible hours to finish his project early so that he could get rid of his annoying client who didn’t know the meaning of “personal space”, and Tom’s professional life which was almost as demanding.
They had a lot to work on but there were many positives that more than made up for any negatives that could have affected their love, such as the dissipation of the initial family disapprovals now that it was clear how much Tom and Cooper loved each other and worked hard to stay together, and that for them age was just a number. What was also obvious was how much Tom had changed since his marriage and divorce. He was now a different man professionally and personally and he embraced his new life. The love between him and Cooper was richer as they became more attuned to each other; no topic was off limits, so there were no major communication issues which are so prevalent in many M/M romances. These guys actually talked to each other and I hope that M/M authors who depend on piling on the angst to make their books interesting will learn how to create conflicts without the Big Misunderstandings. Tom and Cooper were so in sync it was uncanny. Oh they still fought, but they talked through the really important issues and resolved them before they became angst fests. Their love for each other was like an unbreakable bond that could withstand anything, and it had to be strong to overcome the challenge of a younger man who wanted Cooper and would do almost anything to take him away from Tom, but he wasn’t even in the same league when it came to a fight for Cooper as there was no way Cooper wanted to be anywhere but in Tom’s arms. This scene late in the book is indicative of why I love the writing and the MCs so much:
I saw the confusion on his face, then he realized he was
still holding the metal band in his hand.
He looked at it.
Then at me, then back to the silver ring in the palm of his hand.
I saw the rapid rise and fall of his chest. I swear I could hear his mind racing, and when
he looked up at me, I saw it in his eyes.
He knew what it was. He swallowed thickly. “Tom?”
I smiled. “You know what a sense of place is?”
Cooper nodded. “It’s when the place you’re in feels like home. Where you’re at peace.”
I nodded. “That’s exactly right.”
Cooper looked around. “This place?”
I shook my head. “No.”
His voice kind of squeaked. “Me?”
I nodded and grinned. “You’re my sense of place, Cooper.”
You may wonder how the author managed to create conflict in the book without all of the usual “misunderstandings;” it was really simple, she used imagination and creativity to introduce tension into the guys’ relationship. I have so much respect for N.R. Walker who captured the essence of her characters and transferred it eloquently on to the page . Her supporting characters were fully drawn and I was pleased that the women didn’t suffer the usual fate – that of being relegated to the roles of bitch or whore. In Sense of Place, while they were flawed just like real people, the female characters were as three dimensional as the male supporting characters. Everyone grew during the book and had “moments,” and Jennifer, Tom’s long time secretary and assistant, proved that she was more than the role. Another character who had his moment was Cooper’s dad who thawed and it was done realistically; but Max, Cooper’s brother who was a typical teenager, showed that although there was a generational gap between him and Tom he ignored it and embraced him into the family, as did his mother.
The dialogue was funny and Cooper had some great lines, but although I admired the writing it was their love that really touched me – it was slow and sweet as well as hot as they showed how much they needed each other. The sex was even better than before – it wasn’t always frantic – as Tom and Cooper took their time in bed allowing their love to bloom and they used sex as another way to become closer. Last, I had my wish for an epilogue which was a fitting culmination to a love that defied age. Truly a wonderful series.
Highly, highly recommended.