Out of the five Smithfield stories that Gregg has penned, I’ve read now three, including this one, and I think this newest installment is probably my favorite.
This time, Gregg takes us back to the small idyllic New England town of Smithfield, and we follow burly blond bed & breakfast owner Sam, who is likened to a Viking due to his towering height and light hair, and who is struggling, along with his sister, to keep their family business going. While he suffers through his sister’s money-raising schemes, the latest of which is to entice local lonely-hearts to meet cute while cooking at the inn, Sam himself is a little bit lonesome since it seems like all the other available gay men in town got coupled off already (in books 1-4.)
Of course, this means Sam also has his own “meet cute” story, but it’s not over the dinner table at the inn, but at the library, when he gets his hand stuck in the book drop, and only a shadowy figure sneaking in the stacks is there to help him out.
Little does Sam know that his sneaky savior is the newest B&B guest, a cute out-of-towner named Aaron who is quick with picking a lock, looks hot in Henleys, and keeps his secrets close to his toned little chest. (Height difference fans can rejoice at the inches between Aaron, who is around 5’5, and looming Sam.)
All and all, this is a nicely light contemporary romance novella—not too deep, but a quick and fun read. The other Smithfield books I’ve read, Mark & Tony and Max & Finn, had a mystery amongst the romance shenanigans, and this one shares that trait, although the mystery here is very light on suspense in comparison. (And also a little confusing.)
Even though I’m a big mystery-romance fan, I did prefer this book of the three, mostly because I liked Sam better than earlier MCs Mark, Max, and Finn, and he had cute chemistry with Aaron, as well as with the rest of the cast of wacky characters. (I had a hard time warming up to the other two books, but this one was pretty easy to swim into, like a warm bath started by a grousing, over-burdened inn owner.)
Do you need to read the other Smithfield books to enjoy this? Probably not—you’ll see some references to Mark and Finn, and both Tony from book 1 and Adam from book 4 pop up, but I think you can go into this expecting a light contemporary romance and enjoy it as it is.
I think my favorite Gregg works are still her Romano and Albright series, but this one would be a good de-stresser for a long day, or a nice read if you’re sitting by the beach. You might get a little hungry though—those dating dinner classes that Sam and Aaron are forced to take, although full of mishaps, do sound quite tasty. Maybe you can commiserate with them by having a glass of wine to share while you read.