Title: Aiden’s Luck (Seattle Stories: Book Three)
Author: Con Riley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 326 Pages
At a Glance: The one hallmark of Con Riley’s work, one of its core truths, is that love and romance isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: House-sitting for a friend is supposed to be a lucky break for Aiden Daly. Discovering his new housemate is the image of his first crush turns it into a nightmare. Marco de Luca is obviously interested in being more than housemates, but his resemblance to Aiden’s ideal man seems only skin-deep. Besides, Aiden doesn’t date.
Since his adoptive father’s suicide, Aiden’s first priority has been supporting his remaining family—and shielding them from the truth of their financial situation. Deeply concerned for his mother’s mental health, Aiden remains closeted and lonely, convinced that bad luck is the only luck he’ll ever have.
As if the pressure of keeping his father’s financial secrets weren’t enough to handle, Aiden’s birth father makes contact, sending Aiden’s anxieties spiraling out of control. But it’s a crisis at work that finally brings Aiden to his breaking point. Accepting support from Marco is a gamble, but it could be just what Aiden needs to turn his luck around.
Review: When I met Marco de Luca in After Ben, it was love at first sight. This is not a surprise, however, considering how much I’d grown to love his brother Ben, the man who was such a vital presence in the novel though he never spent a moment alive on page. Ben’s joie de vivre was such a significant component of Theo’s grief, if that even makes sense, and it appears that same lust for life is shared by all the de Luca men—especially the youngest, Marco, who is Ben’s doppelganger. So, I cheated and have read the series out of order (all apologies to Peter and Sean), and while I may have noticed some small knowledge gaps in the events from their book, it did nothing to minimize my love for Aiden and Marco or their story.
Aiden Daly was introduced in After Ben as well, but it’s not until his novel that we truly get to know what sort of man Aiden is. He owns his own business, is smart and hardworking, and is dedicated to caring for his mom and his younger brother, Evan, after their father’s suicide—something he took on himself because that’s Aiden—but it doesn’t come without a price. It comes at the expense of Aiden’s own happiness. It comes at the expense of him remaining firmly in the closet—because while his dad was a decent guy with a crippling addiction, David Daly had some backassward ideas about Theo and Ben’s relationship. It also means Aiden lies by omission every moment of every day—the sorts of lies that Aiden prefers to call secrets, not for his own self-preservation, never that, but to protect his psychologically fragile mother and, in turn, to keep his remaining family from falling apart.
Aiden Daly is an angry man. He’s angry that his father broke the promise to build his adopted son a rock-solid family. Angry that his father left him to carry his mother and brother on his shoulders so they’d never have to learn what precipitated David’s suicide. Angry that his business, the clothing store he pours so many hours of his days into, isn’t enough to sustain him after he’s done spending every dime he earns to maintain the lifestyle his mother and brother are accustomed to. Aiden wears the yoke of these responsibilities and swallows his feelings as the stress wears him down, down, and down some more. While his mother comes ever closer to discovering the truth Aiden has tried so hard to bury, while his birth father discovers he has a son he didn’t know existed, while his cheeky roommate is the epitome of joy and energy and inquisitiveness, a roommate who doesn’t appear to know what it means to work for a living. Aiden is operating on a short fuse just waiting for a lit match. That lit match comes in the form of an employee who might be skimming money from the till.
When it rains, it pours. Too much for one man to bear. But Aiden—Aiden keeps pushing those feelings down and staring into the abyss.
The one source of stress Aiden could easily eliminate from his life is Marco de Luca. How do you solve a problem like Marco? All he does is wear on Aiden’s last frayed nerve: speaking his mind, being intrusive, questioning everything, obliterating Aiden’s personal space boundaries…cooking amazing meals and keeping Aiden’s home life in order without Aiden even realizing it. And then, Marco has the audacity to be the mirror image of Ben? It’s almost as if Marco exists in Aiden’s life just to torment him, it’s almost more than Aiden can withstand, and Aiden almost gets his wish for Marco to back off.
Funny, though, how the prospect of losing someone can make you realize just how much you want to keep them.
In less capable hands, the arc of this novel might have crested at a Coming Out story, but that’s only a even fraction of Aiden’s whole. At its most complex, Aiden’s Luck is the story of a man who had to break in order to be built up again, made stronger when he accepts that his greatest weakness has always been his inability to ask for help. And only after he broke did he realize that his greatest source of luck existed in the one man he underestimated in every single way. There may be myriad opinions on what romance is and what it isn’t, but the one hallmark of Con Riley’s work, one of its core truths, is that love and romance isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.
Riley is just a brilliant weaver. Her stories don’t feel plotted or her characters constructed as much as they are woven from various threads chosen from the vast skein of life experiences which then become a lush and complex tapestry—much like life itself. That’s so much of what I respect about this author’s storytelling, the ability to draw from deep wells of pathos, joy, conflict and love without the reading becoming cumbersome or weighted down by gratuitous drama. The characters who people her books are more than the sum of their parts, and her stories are layered with more than a single challenge—much like life itself. Family, friends, simple truths and wellsprings of wisdom dare readers not to find something and someone to invest in and fall in love with.
You can buy Aiden’s Luck here: