Audiobook Review: Smitty's Sheriff (Hope #3) by Cardeno C.

Todd is too flakey. Richard is too stubborn. Together, they're perfect. A May-December couple get a second chance at love.

Retired soldier Richard Davis wants a stable life in a quiet town with a forever man. Becoming the sheriff of Hope, Arizona, accomplishes two of his three goals, but instead of finding a serious partner, he falls for too-young-to-be-committed and too-flakey-to-be-serious Todd Smitty. Richard won’t find the right man if he’s obsessed with the wrong one, so he walks away from Todd.

It’s lust at first sight when Todd meets his sister’s army friend. He sets his sights on the worldly, strong, stable older man, and the more time he spends with Richard, the harder he falls. But after three years together, Richard cuts off all contact with no explanation.

When a mutual obligation requires Todd to move into Richard’s house, he’s thrilled at the opportunity to earn a second chance. Ignoring Todd from across town was hard enough. Can Richard resist temptation under his own roof?

Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
Listening Length: 3 hrs 19 mins

Smitty's Sheriff is a simple opposites attract story that features former hookups to lovers. Smitty's Sheriff works well as a standalone (as I haven't read the previous books) for anyone interested. It's set in an Arizona town and features older hero, town sheriff, Richard Davis. Richard has been hooking up with his best friend's little brother for sometime but took a break when he wanted more...a steady relationship.

The little brother, Todd Smitty? He's in his early twenties and "flakey". Other than having a good time, Richard never thought to ask for more. So he cooled it off for a few months. But his feelings, as much as Richard would like to deny, were still there. And needing release.

An unexpected job (Todd's sister is still in the service) makes her have to leave her baby with responsible Richard and her youngest brother who doesn't have a full time job to occupy his time. [Don't worry the baby is just used as a plot device to bring the men together in a living space--she is not prominent at all. In fact, it was a little weird for me to see a book with a baby barely getting any mention other than in passing] It's all about these two men.

Hmm...former lovers who never quite got over each other having to care for one small child in a shared space?

I wonder what could happen?

Richard is a dominant without the title or formalities. He enjoys being in control. He's organized and prefers things under his thumb (it's the impression he gave me). Todd enjoys being "deferential". And Todd also craves Richard's body. So add sexual tension and miscommunication and you get the gist of the conflict for this novella.

I liked the simplicity of the story. It wasn't burdened with a lot of sex. Instead, we get two adults who are obviously made for each other thrown into a domestic situation. Do they get it right after day one? No.

Todd proves himself to be more mature by some of his actions. It seems to satisfy Richard's controlling nature. I wished they would have talked more openly from the start especially before Todd moving in to stay with the baby. The story itself was 3.5 Hearts. It used tropes I like: brother's best friend finally gets the protagonist, second chances, opposites attract, large age gap, miscommunication/non-communication. Nothing went too wild. Contemporary brain candy...

But...there was something that gave me pause. I want to preface that both main characters were happy with their roles. Richard was dominant and liked to control, Todd enjoyed being "deferential" to Richard's needs and moods. Listening and reading Smitty's Sheriff, their relationship read like domestic discipline or a 24/7 type of deal without BDSM. I like reading D/s. But Richard seemed just a tad too much in the controlling department. If Todd ended up calling Richard master or sir at any point, I wouldn't have thought twice.

There was nothing that Richard did that would make me think he'd turn abusive at any point. But he's one who was just at the border of being too much. He would fly off the handle when it came to other men just as so much as talking to Todd. It was unjustified and unnecessary...if he talked and explained himself, he wouldn't need to waste so much energy and inner angst.

You like boundaries, pal? Then set them up from the start. (Mind you, I like reading about possessive guys, so in a way Richard definitely checks off the possessive category)

This was my first time listening to Ezekiel Robison and I would definitely listen to books narrated by him again. He gave good emotion to the text, I liked the way he characterized each character. I'd rate the narration 4 Hearts. I haven't listened to a bad Cardeno C. contemporary yet. (*knocks on wood*) And I'm glad to have extended my list of narrators to try out.

Recommended for fans of age differences, some miscommunication, opposites attract and possessive heroes. If you enjoy that, you can't go wrong in the audio or eBook direction.

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