Title: The Alcove
Series: Lavender Shores: Book Seven
Author: Rosalind Abel
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 312 Pages
At a Glance: The Alcove is a sweet romance between two men who overcome a hurtful past to embrace a future full of possibilities and love.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Jasper Getty is living his dream as the owner of the charming bookshop, Lavender Pages. For seven years, he’s enjoyed the safety and freedom to be himself, selling books by day and curling up and getting lost in novels by night. But a dark page from the past comes back to haunt Jasper as his ex begins stalking him. Russell Wallace hit reset on his life in Nashville and became a bodyguard after decades of living according to family expectations. But even years later, he doesn’t believe he deserves happiness. When Russell is asked to travel to the beautiful seaside town of Lavender Shores to protect a friend’s brother, he expects nothing more than a job and a paycheck. But Lavender Shores reveals a world Russell never imagined, and his immediate attraction to the adorably geeky Jasper complicates an already difficult job. Jolted by the memory of a shared moment and paths that crossed years ago intensifies the sparks into a bonfire of passion and hope. When danger comes pounding at the door, Jasper is in danger of losing his life… and his heart.
Review: Author Rosalind Abel gives us the seventh installment in the Lavender Shores series with the release of The Alcove. This one focuses on Jasper, who is the owner of the Lavender Shores bookstore and also the brother of Harrison, who got married in the previous book. If you follow the series, you will remember that Jasper’s ex, Neal, is currently in prison for drug dealing. He was a controlling and verbally abusive man who Jasper still fears and who he and Harrison keep tabs on as to any potential early parole. Unfortunately, due to good behavior, Neal has managed to score his release and has returned to Jasper’s life. Leaving behind roses as reminders of their time together, Neal is a silent and elusive stalker, prompting Harrison to hire on a bodyguard for Jasper while he himself is away on an anniversary trip—an old acquaintance, ex-cop Russell Wallace.
Little do either Jasper or Russell realize that they have met before, seven years prior in a Tennessee bathhouse during an anonymous sexual encounter that remarkably left a lasting impression on both men. While Jasper puts two and two together almost immediately, it’s not until a tumultuous encounter late one night that Russell realizes this is the ginger-haired beauty who has haunted his every sexual encounter since that one time so long ago. But Russell is there to do a job, and he still grapples with the fact that he is gay and a very late bloomer, only having come out to a homophobic family just before his meeting Jasper the first time. So, what’s it to be? As a crazed, dangerous ex stalks Jasper, Russell must decide to either remain aloof and professional or confront his own inner demons and admit he is falling for his client.
As always, this series offers up yet another romantic love story set in the idyllic town of Lavender Shores. With less focus on the town in this latest installment and more on the idea of coming out at a later age in life, this particular novel is much more emotional and poignant. One cannot help but feel for Russell as he comes to terms with the fact that he has not only ended the family legacy of being a cop due to a violent outburst during an arrest but has further shamed them by ending his sham of a marriage and declaring his sexuality to all, leaving him alone and shunned by family and friends. While he has accepted that he likes men, he continues to run from that decision by never getting close to anyone and using countless empty sexual encounters to scratch the itch when his needs arise. But now there is Jasper, the man who was Russell’s first and who he has remembered ever since.
For Jasper, he used that moment in the bathhouse to assert his independence, to begin a new life, and he is wary of repeating the mistake he made with Neal, where he lost who he was in favor of trying to save a man he thought loved him. Jasper needs to have control over his own life, and that means not settling for just anyone, but he is so drawn to Russell that he finds himself agreeing to being in the moment and not asking for any guarantees that the man will stick around after Neal is caught and put back in prison where he belongs. We watch as these two men dance around their attraction, and both come to terms with shadows from their pasts. The chemistry between these two is spot-on, and the story is well done—gripping, with just the right mix of lust, tenderness and suspense.
As with all these books, one must be willing to suspend some disbelief when entering this magical town where everyone loves each other and coexists peacefully. I always remember this when I begin another of these stories, but I must admit that there were two pieces to this one that I really felt pushed that limit. Both the abduction scene and its convenient timing (falling just within the fifteen-minute police patrol drive by) and the sex scene in the hospital where Jasper had only ten days previously recovered from a medically induced coma for a brain bleed and multiple fractures, etc., seemed to force even this epic romance trope envelope a bit far. Having said that, I still found this novel to be a lovely age gap romance and a solid suspense story that kept me riveted throughout. I also enjoyed the fact that we took a break from the founding families and their offspring getting romanced and focused on just another member of the community. It allowed for a different type of story to be told and still kept to the idea that all are welcome in this quaint town.
The Alcove is a sweet romance between two men who overcome a hurtful past to embrace a future full of possibilities and love.
You can buy The Alcove here:
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