September 10, 2014
by Cardeno C.
Wealthy, attractive Lucas Reika treats life like a party, moving from bar to bar and man to man. Thumbing his nose at his restaurateur father’s demand that he earn his keep, Lucas instead seduces a valued employee in the kitchen of their flagship restaurant, earning himself an ultimatum: lose access to his father’s money or stay in the middle of nowhere with a man he has secretly lusted over from afar.
Quiet, hard-working Jared McFarland loves his farm on the outskirts of Hope, Arizona, but he aches to have someone to come home to at the end of the day. Jared agrees to take in his longtime crush as a favor. But when Lucas invades his heart in addition to his space, Jared has to decide how much of himself he’s willing to risk and figure out if he can offer Lucas enough to keep him after his father’s punishment is over.
This is the first Novella in the Hope Series and also the first piece of work by C. Cardeno that I have read and it will not be my last. There are novellas where you don’t think there is enough to satisfy you and then there are ones that pack a lot in….this was that kind. There was a ton to the story in a short amount of time.
Jared lives in a small town and owns a farm that grows all kinds of vegetables for stores and restaurants. His best friend is his ex-wife and really is the only person he really talks to about everything. He is also still close to her father, they are friends and also for business reasons, he is the supplier for his restaurants. So when his ex’s half brother needs to get his head on straight she wants to send him to the farm to work. He is 24 and has a Graduated College but is spoiled and just wants to party. Jared agrees to have him there…he will make him work for his keep.
When Lucas arrives and is greeted by Jared it is not fun. He doesn’t want to be there. He want to just go home and he also has had a crush on Jared for years but doesn’t want him to know it…he doesn’t know if Jared is even playing on the same team. Afterall, he was married to his sister. What Lucas doesn’t know is that Jared feels the same way but doesn’t think a hot young man would even look at him.
After some time in the office of the Farm. Lucas is actually enjoying the work but not the food. They seem to be getting along and learning more about each other like they never thought they would. They get closer and closer everyday and things turn hot but Lucas is suppose to finding his own way home to Los Angeles from Hope, Arizona. He needs to learn to take care of himself. Will Lucas learn his lesson? Can he change his ways? Does he find his way home?
This was a great novella. There are many lessons, sweet and some sexy times. There is a lot to the story in such a small amount of time. I didn’t think it was too short. It was perfect for a few hours.
Trying to see the bright side, he told himself that meant he’d be able to stare his fill at the walking wet dream without being caught and without having to make conversation. Those were both wins.
“You know how to build furniture?” “I built the end tables and coffee table in the living room, my bed and night stands, and the porch out front. All from scratch.”
“Are you going to bring me home?” He crocked.
“I’m doing something better,” his father aid softly. “I’m giving you the chance to find your own way home.”
“Please tell me you can go again,” Lucas said breathlessly.
“Won’t be a problem,” Jared assured him. “Just give me a few minutes to recharge.” He flicked his tongue over Lucas’s lips, pulling back with a grin when Lucas darted forward and tried to catch him.
“Come here,” Lucas said playfully. “I’m hungry.”
Jared chuckled. “I don’t think my tongue’s going to fill you up.”
“Oh no?” Lucas leered at him and waggled his eyebrows. “You have something else in mind?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Enjoying the game, Jared took hold of Lucas’s hand and brought it between them, resting it on his package.
“Mmm, I can see that.” Lucas gently cupped Jared’s sensitive balls before running one finger up his satisfied cock. “This is nice and thick. It’d really fill me up.”
“Why do I suddenly feel like I’m in the middle of a cheesy porno?”
Scrunching his nose in an incredibly adorable way, Lucas nodded. “You’re right. That last line was total Velveeta. I blame it on the hunger.”
“You didn’t finish your dinner,” Jared said as he rolled off Lucas and lay on his side. He grasped Lucas’s hip and tugged him forward so they were chest to chest. “Do you want me to go get you a snack?”
“And where, pray tell, do you plan to find such a thing?” Lucas draped his leg over Jared’s waist and played with the hair on his chest.
“Uh.” Jared thought through the contents of his kitchen. He wasn’t much of a snacker so he didn’t buy chips or cookies or crackers. “I, uh, can heat up—”
“Let me help you out by giving you the answer to my question.” Lucas paused and looked at him meaningfully. “If it’s food, we won’t find it in your kitchen.”
“Oh.” Jared blinked in surprise. “Are we low on food?”
“Low?” Lucas snorted. “Sure, we can call it low.” He leaned forward and circled Jared’s nipple with this tongue. “Or we can go with accuracy and call it nonexistent.”
Still satisfied from his orgasm, Jared enjoyed Lucas’s attention without losing focus on the conversation. “When I got my breakfast out of the freezer this morning, I could have sworn there were lots of meals left in there.”
“Let’s take a moment to repeat what you said.” Lucas cleared his throat. “When I got my breakfast out of the freezer.” He arched his eyebrows. “Why is your breakfast in the freezer? And your lunch? And your dinner?”
“I’m sorry,” Jared said, immediately feeling guilty about forcing a man accustomed to chef-prepared cuisine to settle for Hungry-Man. “I know you don’t like the frozen meals, but I don’t have time to cook, and even if I did, I hate doing it. Tomorrow’s Friday. How about we go into town and eat at Jesse’s?”
“That sounds good. I called the grocery store, and they’re open until nine. Do you think you can finish what you need to do outside in time to get cleaned up, go to dinner, and still leave an hour or so for shopping?”
“An hour?” Jared repeated. “What are we going to do at the store for an hour?”
“Well, I’ve never been there, and I think it’s a fair bet you’re not all that familiar with anything outside of the frozen food aisle, so I want to leave us enough time to find everything on my list.”
“Yeah.” Lucas nodded and moved his finger over the same path his tongue had taken, tracing the perimeter of Jared’s nipple. “I got all the urgent invoices, emails, and letters out today, so I had time to poke around online. I made a list of meals to tide us over for a week, and I need to stock up the kitchen.”
“You’re going to cook?”
“Like I said earlier, one of us has to and you work longer hours. Besides, I think maybe I’ll enjoy it. I’ll for sure enjoy eating food that’s not loaded with preservatives.” Lucas nudged Jared’s shoulder until he tipped onto his back. Then he crawled onto his lap. “What do you say?” he asked as he ran his fingers through Jared’s beard.
“Say?” Jared mumbled, distracted by how good it felt to have Lucas touching him. “Uh-huh, sure. We can go to Smitty’s after dinner.”
“Good.” Lucas grinned at him, a hint of mischief in his eyes. “But that’s not what I meant.” He tilted his hips back and rubbed his ass over Jared’s groin.
“It isn’t?” Jared asked hoarsely. “What did you mean?”
“I meant, what do you say about going again?” He moved back and forth, giving Jared delicious friction right where he wanted it most. “You up for it?”
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Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”
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