A Test of Love (The Solitary Knights of Pelham Bay #2)

Title: A Test of Love (The Solitary Knights of Pelham Bay #2)
Author: Claire Thompson
Publisher: Romance Unbound
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: short story (32 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


It started as a joke. Several guys burned by love decided to create a club they dubbed the Solitary Knights. A safe haven for the romantically disinclined, the guys meet once a month to drink a beer and renew their vow to avoid love at all costs. Yet beneath the laughter and bravado, each man hides a broken heart.

One night, Drew Kensington, owner and bartender of the Pelham Bay Pub, issues a challenge, ?Why don‘t you find that one guy—the one that got away, the one you‘ve never quite let fade from your dreams? Track him down. Reconnect. Then come back here and tell us what you found out.”

From Book 1: Finding Chandler*… Eric and Ryan left the pub at the same time. Eric pulled up the collar of his coat as they headed into the freezing November rain. “So you were in love once a long time ago, huh? You don?t seem old enough to even have a “long time ago?, Eric teased.

Ryan shook his head. “I’m old enough—thirty-four next week. This was back in college—junior year. My biology professor, of all people. Maybe it wasn’t even love—who knows. Maybe I was just so flush with finally allowing myself to be openly gay, and finding a gay man I could look up to.” He waved his hand, as if swatting away a fly. “Anyway. Ancient history. I haven’t thought about him in years.”


When Ryan Kennedy arrived home that evening after meeting with the other members of the group he kept thinking of fourteen years ago when he had a youthful crush on his biology professor, and how it all ended before it even began. At the time he felt spurned because he was sure that Professor Tom Shafer knew he was in love with him, but he never took advantage of Ryan’s numerous openings that he would welcome Tom’s attentions. Now he wondered what had happpened to Tom and if he was with someone, after all 14 years was a long time. 

To his surprise he received in the mail that evening an invitation from his Alma Mater to attend a fund raising at which Tom would be the guest speaker (what a coincidence). Obviously he went because he was curious and wanted to see Tom and find out about his love life.

The old feelings were still there for Ryan when he saw Tom again after so many years. When the lecture was over he and Tom reintroduced  themselves and caught up briefly on each other’s lives now that Ryan was 34 and Tom was 49. Ryan was still hurt that Tom had never pursued him even though he was aware of Ryan’s feelings but Tom had two very valid reasons – the first one was that he was in a relationship with a very jealous partner at the time and second, as an associate professor not yet tenured he would have been incredibly stupid to have an affair with a student as that would have been the surest way to join the unemployment line.

Since they were both now single and the attraction was definitely there, it would seem that the path to true love would be strewn with rose petals, but there were two major problems.  Tom was still recovering from an old love and Ryan had a stalker, an abusive ex boyfriend against whom the courts had issued a restraining order forbidding him from being within a certain distance of Ryan’s home and workplace. Their first night together was more exciting than Ryan expected and it was clear that Tom felt the same way, but  before they had a chance to decide what was next, the threats started when the tires on Ryan’s pride and joy, his Porsche, were slashed. The threats escalated and the tension placed considerable stress on the newly minted couple as they tried to cope without blaming each other. Eventually things reached boiling point when Tom’s life was put in danger and Ryan had to race against time to save him.

This story had a lot more content and excitement than Finding Chandler the first book in the series. At times I thought A Test of Love would burst at the seams because there was so much going on in such a short book. At only 38 pages the pace was at breakneck speed during the last half of the book  so that the plot could be wrapped up with no loose ends, leaving  enough pages for our heroes to have their happy ever after. The danger and final chase were exciting, but for me the best part of the book were the characters. Both Tom and Ryan were three dimensional and their love affair worked despite all of the conflicts, stresses and strains placed on it; the fact that they had a past helped make their feelings believable. If I had a wish for this book it would be that there was more ‘alone’ time for Ryan and Tom so that they could get to know each other better, rather than the focus on the threats against their lives. However I enjoyed A Test of Love very much and would definitely recommend it.

I think this will turn into a wonderful series and I can’t wait to read book 3, Switching Gears.



  • Hi Heidi
    Thanks for commenting.

    As I said in the review, for me it would been a more enjoyable story without most of the threats, but I always try to remember that authors write the books they want to write – not the books I wish they had written.

    I hope to post my review of the third book in the series later today.

  • I liked the characters very much, but I agree that the story did not need the threats to make it work. I will be picking up the rest of the series and it would be great if they were a little longer.

    I very much like the idea of buying directly from the author. I purchase lots and lots from fictionwise, but I am all for the author getting a bigger cut of the proceeds.

  • I agree with you on this book – I love the busyness of it, because it was like a sneak peek, not over done …
    I loved how Claire capture both men emotionally – the phase they were at in their lifes…

    Tom – very concern with propriety and Ryan to some respect feels like he has to deal with it all and at one point I felt like slapping him…

    I thought they were perfect for each other..

    I just finished Switching Gear – good….

    • Hi E.H.
      Thanks for commenting.
      These short books have an advantage for the reader because the pacing does not drag. Authors have a limited number of words within which to wrap up the story.

      I’m looking forward to Switching Gears.

  • I was glad to read your review. I read Finding Chandler and wasn’t sure if I would continue on. Now it looks like I might! Switching Gears has caught my interest, too.

    • Wren
      It’s a nice series so far – I like the characters. I don’t know if the quality will continue as the series progresses but I really hope so, since she has an excellent idea here that could go on for a while with the number of guys in the group.

  • Holy shit. It sounds very good, but it sounds like a hell of a lot for only 38 pages. Breakneck speed is not something I’m much for usually. But if the characters are good…yes, it might work. Too bad the book couldn’t be more developed, though, because it looks like it could have been a good novel. Might give it a try anyway, IIRC I liked what I’ve read from this author. The publisher is completely new to me, though.

    • Hi Mary
      Because of the length of the book the author had to wrap up everything fast so that the guys could get their HEA. As I said in the review, I really would have preferred a little less of the other stuff and more of Tom and Ryan getting to know each other without threats hanging over their heads.
      The publisher is Claire – she has her own company Romance Unbound. Many authors are now doing so e.g. Jordan Castillo Price with JCP Books.

  • Wonderful review, Wave. I’ve got both books in my TBR although I’ll wait for the series to be complete before reading them. I love when I can read a series all at once.


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