“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ― Mark Twain
In N.R. Walker’s Elements of Retrofit, age actually is the matter, or at least Thomas Elkin would like to make it matter when he’s reintroduced to his son’s friend, Cooper Jones—a now very grown up Cooper Jones. At half Tom’s age, Cooper isn’t exactly someone Tom should be giving a second look at, let alone a second thought to, but as we all know, the right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing to do, especially when the wrong thing to do is to fool oneself into believing that ignoring something will make it magically disappear. That’s what Tom tries to do. It doesn’t work.
Thomas Elkin is many things: an ex-husband, a father who has only recently repaired his relationship with Ryan after his coming-out and the inevitable divorce that followed. Tom is also a senior partner in a leading New York City architectural firm, which gives him plenty of opportunity to bury his days, nights, and weekends in work, only enjoying the occasional one-night hook-up as a means of momentary entertainment. All that changes, though, when Cooper shows up at Brackett and Golding to begin an internship. It’s a “Well, isn’t this a small world?” sort of moment, the kind of moment some might call destiny (some might just call it a cosmic prank), and Tom doesn’t waste any time at all snatching Cooper up as his personal mentee, which means when Tom works Cooper works, which translates to lots and lots of hours spent in each other’s company, which evolves into the realization that, in spite of their twenty-two year age difference, the two men have a great rapport, a few things in common, and are wildly attracted to each other.
Not that all those things make it a smooth ride on the road to a relationship, however. There are still plenty of bumps and detours getting in the way, not the least of which are Ryan finding out about Tom and Cooper’s relationship, Tom and Cooper’s working relationship that should make Cooper way off-limits, and yes, there’s that whole age difference thing that Tom can’t seem to ignore and Cooper can’t seem to care at all about.
I have to say this novella was pretty much the trifecta of perfection for me: a sexy, middle-aged man; the younger man who comes along and reminds him what it means to live rather than to simply count the passage of time from one project and work day to the next; and the author’s skilled storytelling and character development, which made me not only fall for the sexy Tom and his very cheeky Cooper but made me want to see them fall for each other.
The conflict in the story is very real but not overwrought, just enough to up the tension before the end. I have to admit that I can’t begin to fathom where N.R. Walker is going to go with this series, but I can guarantee I’m going to be there to ride it out to the very end.