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Elements of Retrofit - N.R. Walker
3.5 stars
Reviewed for The Blog of Sid Love

This is my first book by NR Walker and it won’t be my last. I gotta say… I liked it very much. It’s about some good, old-fashioned, older man and younger man attraction.

Thomas Elkin feels as if half his life has been wasted. He spent twenty years married, living a lie. Now, divorced, and with one semi-serious boyfriend under his belt, he still hasn’t found that special someone, and he buries himself in his work. He is a senior architect at his firm and puts in a 24/7 grueling schedule. Like the skyscrapers he retrofits, you could say Tom’s due for his own jump-start.

Cooper is a new intern at Thomas’s firm; he’s brilliant, ambitious, and so very young. Over the course of a summer the two work together and discover a shared passion for all things architectural. They also find a slow-building attraction to each other. Added to the age thing, there is now the ethical issue of a boss/employee relationship, and it is interesting to see how it’s handled.

Their shared work ethic forges a teamwork built on mutual respect and admiration. Cooper is in awe of Tom’s track record as a top architect in the city. Tom appreciates Cooper’s tenacity and dedication. I like that Cooper has a sweet guilelessness while at the same time knowing his own mind. He can be aggressive with Tom instead taking the more traditional submissive role of the younger man. Tom appreciates this too. He’s in deep before he realizes it.

“...he’s sweet and funny, and when we’re together, there’s no age difference between us.”

I liked the parallel that the author makes between the work-- retrofitting or modernizing older buildings in NYC-- and the idea of the younger Cooper rejuvenating Tom, giving him the companionship and physical connection he’s been missing.

“I like the differences between us. You’ve opened my eyes to a lot of things I thought I missed… We’re like a retrofit project, making the older, classic style integrate with the modern. When everything says we probably shouldn’t gel, we just seem to work.”

The author has a warm and easy style and the story moves at a good pace. There are interesting secondary characters: Tom’s son, Ryan, gets a bit of a short shrift, but I liked Jennifer, Tom’s long-time girl-Friday/secretary. Loyal and perceptive, she second guesses his every need, keeps his confidences, and helps the romance along without being intrusive.

Reading this was like being wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket, cozy and comfortable. There is a little bit of tension as the guys face the ethics of their relationship in the workplace, and when Thomas makes some bad choices. But in general, the anxiety/angst factor is low. I will definitely be returning for more books in this series. Recommended for those who want a well done, quick to read, sweet, grown-up romance.

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