Jesse’s Diner (Hope #2) by Cardeno C.

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Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true. addtogoodreads_zps55cd15da16  Angela_s PonderingsTAG

Being a fan of Cardeno C.’s writing in general and the Hope series in particular meant this was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t even bother to read the blurb before saying yes to the review opportunity. While I wasn’t the least bit surprised that I loved Jesse’s Diner, I was surprised with why I loved it due to the elements the author included (some of which I cannot tell you as they’re potential spoilers) – not because they were elements I don’t tend to enjoy in a book, but because there were some rather personal-to-me issues brought up that I wasn’t expecting to encounter. For me, this generally translates into a personal connection with the characters that tends to make a book even more enjoyable and meaningful and this was certainly the case with Jesse’s Diner.


I suspect the fact that I spent a large part of my childhood with my maternal grandparents who had a 12 year age difference between them is why I don’t focus on the age difference between characters. That is, unless the characters make a big deal of it themselves. Fortunately in Jesse’s Diner the age difference was addressed a time or two, but was not the focal point of the book. Instead CC keeps the focus on the relationship that develops between Tanner and Steve. What at first presents as a convoluted relationship with Steve being Jesse’s widower and the father of Tanner’s best friend, Mike, and Tanner being Jesse’s protégé (of sorts) and recipient of the diner when Jesse died unexpectedly a year earlier, ends up being far less complicated as the story unfolds. When he goes to check on Steve at his friend’s request, Tanner unintentionally establishes a nightly dinner date with Steve in an effort to make sure the man isn’t suffering from depression. While we don’t know a lot about Tanner’s past initially, it’s clear that he’s far more mature than his twenty-two years and although he’s been crushing on Steve since meeting him almost six years ago, he manages to keep his thoughts and actions toward Steve strictly platonic out of respect for Jesse and Mike. This is what made the scene in which Steve “comes onto” Tanner so amusing – the young man had no idea that the attraction was mutual.


I loved watching the relationship develop between Tanner and Steve. It was sweet how their mutual respect and love for Jesse was a source of unification rather than something that kept them apart. I found Steve’s insistence that Tanner consider all the ramifications of a relationship with him instead of allowing the young man to dive head first into his first actual relationship without doing so. Granted, Steve’s past affected the future of their relationship and certain aspects of it heavily, but he acted like a mature adult and this is something I see missing all too often in books when adult characters embark upon a relationship, especially a sexual one, regardless of their age. In doing so, Steve also provided Tanner the opportunity to show that he was mature enough for such a relationship. Not surprisingly, the sex scenes are hot – but because of Tanner’s complete lack of experience, they are also tender as Steve takes his time with Tanner. Although the ending made me cry when Mike revealed that Jesse’s death wasn’t quite as unexpected as everyone believed, I love, love, loved the rest of that scene as it obliterated any hesitations Tanner had about getting involved with his best friend’s father. Jesse’s Diner is yet another 5-star read for me from the talented Cardeno C. and I look forward to seeing what the author has in store for Hope, Arizona next.


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