Pocket Pair by Carol Lynne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Poker Night series features a group of 6 gay men (Zac, Bobby, Trey, Angelo, Marco and Kent) who have been friends for almost 4 years and get together to play poker, drink beer and have fun every other Saturday. As the series starts, they're all single, but it's obvious that each of them is destined to find their HEA as the series progresses.
The 3rd book in the series, Pocket Pair, is Trey's story and picks up a few months after Slow-Play ended.
As the story opens, Trey Huggins is still recovering from what happened to him at the end of the previous book. Quiet, shy and very lonely, he'd agreed to have a date with a man he met on an online website. That became a nightmare when the man turned out to be a psycopath who left him to die after raping and stabbing him. Now, still trying to deal with the consequences of that event, Trey decides to act on his long-time crush on Cole Harding, the principal of the school where he and his friend Zac teach.
Cole is a handsome, confident, successful, closeted gay man. He's also had a secret crush on Trey for years, but he needs to keep his private and professional life separate. He isn't willing to risk his career for an affair with Trey, but when he learns what's happened to his favorite teacher (sorry, bad joke), he rushes to help. Soon, there's no denying their feelings for each other and what begins as a crush grows into love. But Trey is still too emotionally damaged by what happened and isn't ready to embrace a physical relationship with Cole. Will Trey ever be ready for that? Is Cole's love strong enough to endure a sexless relationship? And what about the public implications of their relationship? Is Cole ready to come out of the closet yet?
Wow, I really enjoyed this book. Despite its premise (a man recovering from a rape attack), this wasn't an overly dark and angsty story. Trey's issues weren't ignored, but they didn't took over the pages and I was glad. I loved, loved, loved Trey: he was so sweet, I wanted to cuddle him and help him get over his nighmare. Unfortunately (for me, not for him), Cole was there. ;) I liked the way they didn't jump into bed right away, as it would be too unbelievable considering Trey's situation. Cole was kind and patient, exactly what Trey needed.
Now, the "bad" part... I admit I was uncomfortable with the huge age difference between Trey and Cole: Trey was 29 years old and Cole was almost 20 years older. That was too much, especially because Trey was very inexperienced - he was a virgin, rape aside - and sometimes insecure. Theirs was not a balanced relationship, IMHO. Anyway, I'm choosing to ignore that and believe in their HEA, just because I love those guys and wish them the best. :)
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