A Stella Review: After Ben (Seattle Stories #1) by Con Riley


RATING 5 out of 5 stars

A year after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben, Theo Anderson is still grieving. The last thing he’s looking for is a new lover. But as Theo soon discovers, sometimes life has other plans.

While Theo experiences a powerful physical attraction to fellow gym member Peter, it’s his new online friend, Morgan, who provides the intellectual challenge to make him come alive. Morgan is witty, brave, and irreverent, and Theo is ready to take the plunge… until he discovers Morgan might be half his age.

Theo’s late partner was significantly older—enough to strain Theo’s relationship with his family—and the potential of another relationship being cut short leaves him gunshy. Theo needs to lay Ben’s memory to rest, reconcile with his family, and rekindle neglected friendships if he’s to start afresh with a new lover. But Theo isn’t the only one with a past.

His biggest challenge, in living after Ben, might not be his to face.

After Ben is one of my favourite books in the mm genre and the first audiobook (in English) I listened too, even if my English isn’t good enough for it. I have no clue how many times I read this novel and each time I am overwhelmed by the emotions I get. And here lays the reason why I love the author, and all her works, so much: the feelings she puts in her stories are always so strong and real. In particular, as you can understand from the blurb, After Ben is not exactly a light story, there is a lot of grief and hurt to manage, Theo needed time to process and try to overcome the death of his beloved Ben. He’s not sure how to do it, still he’s trying, some days more than ever. Until a moment, where different events happens all together: the meeting and sudden attraction with Peter, the long chats online till late night with Morgan, the changes at his day job. And then it’s time to say goodbye to Ben while trying to reconcile the past with the present.

Although it’s not a light story, it was still a pleasure to read, cause the plot, the scenes, the characters, are all so well done the reading didn’t become heavy or too stifling. I could feel an air of positiveness and joy for the future, that ease the important themes the book tells.

I can’t recommend After Ben enough, you won’t be disappointed. And be sure to check Con Riley works, all of them are awesome.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is lovely and fitting, this artist is a guarantee.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link  Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited


Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 344 pages

Published October 5th 2019 by Amazon Digital Services (first published July 1st 2012)


Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Lucky Break (Clean Slate Ranch #4) by A.M. Arthur


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A lovely addition to the Clean Slate Ranch series, this story features Shawn, the assistant cook at the ghost-town saloon who helped Miles when his abusive ex showed up in Saddle Up, book three. Robin, one of the ranch hands, befriends Shawn after an initial minor hostility due to the fact Shawn looks like Robin’s former husband, Xander, who died in a rodeo accident three years before. But once Robin gets to know him, the resemblance takes a back seat because Shawn is a completely different personality: shy, sweet, virginal, and reclusive. Shawn has kept the fact he lives in his car a secret for two years, but now that it’s out in the open and he’s given the cabin next to Robin’s, the two slowly become friends, and then more.

The story is a good length and focuses on the slow buildup of a relationship with plenty of kissing and not much else through most of the book as each man slowly begins to share pieces of his past with the other. The author allows time for readers to get to know the characters as they get to know each other and that’s something I appreciate. When circumstances occur that bring Shawn back to his hometown where the public shame and humiliation that forced him out of town took place, Robin accompanies him and finally learns Shawn’s truths.

But it’s not until much later, when they are back at the Clean Slate Ranch, that Shawn learns Robin’s truths about how he lost his husband and the guilt he carries over it. Past characters round out the story and new ones are introduced as I suspect the series may continue for some time—at least, I hope so because I want Derrick and Levi and Hugo to all have their own loves.

As with other books in this series, there’s a sense of family, friendship, trust, and support by all the characters at the ranch.  Those who love a sweet cowboy romance, with a small age gap (8 years), should enjoy this one. Add slow burn, virgins, smaller tops, and widower to the tags, and you get the picture of how very nice this story is.

The bright cover features a handsome cowboy walking toward the camera with a bright blue sky background.

Sales Links:   Amazon

Book Details:

Expected publication: October 21st 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488056986 (ISBN13: 9781488056987)
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #4

Clean Slate Ranch Series

Wild Trail

Roped In

Saddle Up

Lucky Break