Elias - Erin E. Keller Originally reviewed at Sinfully.

Poor Elias has suffered a lot in his 23 years, losing his parents and being abused and used by his brother. When he sees the handsome Thomas leaving the bar time after time with a different man, he decides he wants his turn. He just wants Thomas to notice him, but since that hasn’t happened he takes matters into his own hands.

At 38 years old, Thomas is a shell of the man he was before he suddenly lost his long-time partner two years ago. He suffers panic attacks and is lonely. The one night stands he chooses do nothing to change that. He never lets them stay overnight as he doesn’t want to betray what he had with his partner. He’s good at compartmentalizing the different parts of his life until Elias comes along. He doesn’t know what to make of Elias when the boy approaches him. He really doesn’t know what to make of it when he realizes Elias has stolen his wallet – he’s a cop after all so he probably should arrest him, but he’s too busy trying to talk himself out of wanting Elias.

In between strange meetups and conversations, Thomas keeps trying to talk himself out of seeing Elias and Elias keeps running, convinced he’s not worthy. Elias has misplaced guilt about the relationship with his older brother, feeling he owes something to the worthless man. Thomas is torn between wanting Elias and fearing what Elias means in his orderly life, while Elias wishes he was worthy of Thomas. Thomas is the first person since he was a child to ever show him real affection, but it’s so hard for Elias to trust that it’s real.

Elias is very relationship centered. Most of the story takes place just between the two main characters. I did enjoy the appearances from Thomas’s partner on the job, Anne. She’s a straightforward, supportive character who truly cares for Thomas’s well-being.

Despite the running and missteps, their relationship moves rather quickly, all the action occurs in under a month, but Elias needed Thomas to save him from the intense situation and Thomas needed Elias to save him from his self-imposed sentence, so it didn’t bother me. I found the ending to be happy for now as Elias still doesn’t believe he is worth Thomas’ trust, but he’s trying. I did find the decision Thomas proposes at the end of the story to be a bit odd as it seemed like something that was more his partner’s dream than his.

This book should have been a slam dunk for me. I liked the age-gap and Elias’ situation was heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the writing took away from my ability to really get as emotionally involved in the story as I wanted to be. There are some beautiful descriptive passages, but much of the dialogue felt stilted or formal, with a lot of unfinished sentences either disrupted with dashes or ending with ellipses. When Elias admitted to Thomas he was whoring himself, I actually missed it until Thomas said that’s what happened in the next chapter. I had to go back to re-read the conversation and I still couldn’t really say for certain that’s what the conversation was about. Later on I discovered that this book is a translation from the original Italian, so perhaps that was the issue, but it took me out of the story too many times to be ignored.

There is a good hurt-comfort storyline here, I just had a tough time connecting with it as much as I could have. It could just be the way the writing style worked for me personally, so if age-gap, hurt-comfort stories are your thing, it could work well for you.