Four Bears Construction: Hardwood – K.M. Neuhold
I’ve spent forty-four years of my life telling the world I’m a carpet man. Is it too late to admit to myself and everyone else that deep down I’m really all about the Hardwood?
It took me over thirty-five years to admit to myself that I’m gay, another seven to find the courage to say it out loud to anyone else, and exactly thirty seconds to develop a massive crush on my daughter’s music teacher. It’s really not my fault, have you even seen those cute bowties he wears?
After everything it’s taken to get here, am I going to work up the nerve to come out to my ex-wife and my best friends? Am I ready to shake up my comfortable, simple life and take a chance on Watson? Or am I going to throw a wrench in my own chance for happily ever after?
***Hardwood is a steamy, seriously so much delicious tension, single-dad, gay awakening, low angst story, which happens to be the third in the Four Bears Construction Series. It CAN be read as a stand alone. There are NO shifters in this series, only the OTHER kind of bears.***
I’m super eager to get to poor Ollie’s story but first, Ev gets his happily ever after.
Everett is known as the only straight guy among the Four Bears. He’s a divorced single dad who adores his daughter, Livi. Unknown to all his friends and family, Everett has been struggling to come out for years but couldn’t find the courage to do so. He has long resigned himself to a life of solo Thanksgiving dinners. It took one fabulous and cuddly music teacher with a penchant for cute bow ties to make him realize, he could have so much more. If only he could embrace his true self.
I’m not particularly fond of in-the-closet stories because they usually involved a lot of lies and cover ups. Everett had to constantly do it to his friends and ex-wife, Val. As a result, it felt a lot like he was cheating. And him dragging his ass dragged the story down too, especially at the middle part.
The group banter was missing for most of the story, which I think was another reason why it felt kind of meh. Also, I know they were meant to be funny but the awkward situations Ev got himself into in his alone time were more cringey than amusing.
These sad vibes aside, I think the coming out part was handled pretty well. I keep expecting the caught-in the act plot twist but yay! we were spared such cliches. And sure, it took a looong time for Everett to do it and it hurt his boyfriend to be treated like a dirty secret but I appreciated how the story emphasized that coming out should be on one’s own time. It was also important that Ev and Wats were honest with each other from the start.
I expected the Bears’s and Val’s reactions to be anti-climactic, like they would say, they already know. I enjoyed how the plot surprised me on this point too. Most especially, I loved how supportive and understanding Watson was, hurts and all. He was the best character here!
Four Bears Construction is notable for featuring mature MCs. Ev is 44. He could have easily become a Daddy for a much younger love interest so I’m happy that Wats is 40. All too often, characters above 40 end up in age-gap romance. Good job to the author for taking a different route.
The story picked up after there were more interactions with the other Bears. Ev was spurred into action and roped the guys in to help him bust a move. Damn right, because after what he had been through, Wats deserved some major wooing.
Hardwood was mix of highs and lows but ended on a strong note. The book certainly held true to its promise of delicious tension. The chemistry between Everett and Watson was fantastic from the get go! Their journey together was not easy but it was worth the fight. Wats went from flirty friend to first boyfriend, all the while holding Ev’s hand as he went through his awakening. Ev gifted him with his many firsts, something Wats will always treasure. He gets the forevers too.
Four Bears Constructions is a series full of winning characters you couldn’t help but root for. While the books can be read as standalones, I recommend meeting all the Bears properly by reading the books in order. Read reviews of the other books here.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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