Solomon Trebeck’s heart broke the night of his bi-awakening.
Fifteen years later, Sol’s back in Cornwall where it happened, single, shy, and oh-so lonely. Teaching art to kids wasn’t his life plan. Neither is raising a teenage nephew, but with no family left to support him, a live-in job at a boarding school becomes his life raft.
Problem: that life raft is sinking.
Solution: Sol’s first love could have the cash to keep it afloat.
Reconnecting with Jace Pascoe might save the school—the one place Sol’s nephew is happy. Asking for his help opens old wounds, but Jace helps to heal them, fusing Sol’s broken heart back together. However, Jace has his own shadows, no matter how brightly his smile dazzles.
Falling for Jace again could be so easy. It could also be a huge risk when neither of them plans to stay in Cornwall forever….
Con Riley has become a must-read author for me over the last couple of years, and she earned high grades for her last three books, which I gave DIK reviews. The most recent of these – Charles, book one in the Learning to Love series – was always going to be a tough act to follow due to its incredibly loveable and engaging titular character, but I had high hopes that book two, Sol, would wow me, too. I’m a fan of second-chance romances, and have been looking forward to learning more about Solomon Trebeck, the quiet, reserved art teacher at Glynn Harber school. However, I can’t say that I loved the book as much as I’d hoped to. It’s a poignant and beautifully written story about a man struggling under the weight of commitments, trying to sort his life out, and to allow himself not just to learn to love (as per the series title) but to accept it – but the insta-love nature of the romance didn’t really work for me.
A couple of years before the story begins, Sol had to take custody of his teenaged nephew, Cameron, who was brought up by his grandmother – Sol’s mother Mary- owing to the fact that his own mother is unable to take care of him. When Mary Trebeck died unexpectedly, Sol had not only to deal with his own grief at her loss, but to take on the responsibility for his grieving nephew, too. To start with, Sol moved Cameron into his home in London, but when he realised that uprooting the boy from the life he’d known in Cornwall had been a mistake, he took a job teaching art at Glynn Harber school. Teaching is not a job he’d ever wanted to do, but his position there at least provides him with somewhere to live and means Cameron’s schooling is paid for. But as much as he loves Cameron and wants to do the best for him, their relationship is going from bad to worse, and Sol is at a loss as how to repair it.
As was hinted at in the previous book, all is not well at Glynn Harber. The finances are strapped and there’s the strong possibility that the head will have to take the drastic step of dispensing with the free places and scholarships the school offers if he’s going to balance the books. It’s not something he wants to do at all; those free places go to kids who really need the kind of security and nurturing environment the school specialises in, kids who were “given up on before they got here” – and he believes, passionately and wholeheartedly, in continuing to give those children what they need to succeed. But unless he can come up with a way of bringing in more money, those places will have to be cut and the whole school may eventually be forced to close. He suggests to the staff that they all try to find a benefactor with money to invest, or talented people willing to be associated with the school whose names might help drum up more fee-paying parents.
Sol finds himself thinking, not for the first time since he returned to Cornwall, of Jace Pascoe, the object of his first ever same-sex crush and the boy whose kisses had revealed a truth about himself that Sol hadn’t known before – that he liked guys as well as girls. He and Jace haven’t seen each other since the night they kissed fifteen years before; Sol promised he’d return later that evening, but instead found himself whisked away to live in London by his father without a moment to spare and with no money to even make a phone call. But Jace’s mother Emily was a well-known artist and her paintings sell for massive amounts of money – could Jace be persuaded to help save the school? Sol can’t believe he’s even considering asking, or that Jace will listen, given they haven’t seen or spoken for fifteen years, but he’s willing to try anything if it means keeping Glynn Harber open and providing much-needed stability for Cameron in a place that makes him happy.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.