Handyman - Claire Thompson 4.5 to 5 stars. Bare chests. Neckties. Toolbelts. Can it get any better??

This story was a Kindle lend that I will convert into a purchase. It was that enjoyable.

The story, in a nutshell: On leave from his Wall Street investment banker position, Will moves to the suburbs and buys a fixer upper house. Who helps him fix it up? Why, the titular handyman, Jack, of course. Will is gay; Jack's a widower who thought he was straight all his life...except for that one incident with his best friend when he was 18. O__o Anyway, they become friends over the course of the home improvements, despite an attraction that Will feels for Jack that Will doesn't think he'll ever have the opportunity to act upon. Let's just say Jack's got some surprises up his sleeves (er...down his pants? heh), and awaaaaaay we go!

The characters: I kind of fell in love with both characters. Like. <3 <3 <3 puppy eyes, drawing hearts and rainbows, sharing candy kisses love. Big bad sex on a stick Will was surprisingly vulnerable and sympathetic in his narrative POV, not knowing what to do when presented with this puzzle named Jack. He found himself wanting to take it slow, wanting to keep things at Jack's pace, wanting to make Jack as comfortable as possible. What the hell had come over him? Love, that's what. Say it with me...awwwwww.

Jack was adorable in both his cluelessness and his discovery of his sexuality. I'm not saying any of this is realistic - who knows if it is? All I know is I loved reading about it. It felt real, it felt emotional, it felt wonderful. I felt like I was falling in love alongside him, and it was big, scary, and exciting.

The romance: Loved it. The pace was perfect. It made total sense to me for them to be friends first, for Will to take these tentative steps towards being more-than-friends since he didn't know how these gestures would be received, for them to take things slowly overall. This wasn't a casual hookup - this was something more, and it deserved that effort to "do things right." There were so many factors involved - their age difference (Will's 30; Jack's 44), Jack's developing sexual orientation, Will's heretofore emotional barrenness - that the slower paced romance just felt right. It totally worked for me. And I thought it was just so so sweet and lovely to watch as it developed. There's a wonderful back-and-forth dance while Will tries to figure out how to navigate a slower-paced and slower-developed real relationship and, at the same time, while Jack comes to terms with his feelings for and sexual attraction to another man. They have mutual crushes (yet each also has his own misgivings), and it is absolutely adorable. Loved it. It was perfect for me.

Overall: Yes, please. More, please. My first Claire Thompson and definitely not my last.