It's seldom good to be so set in our ways that we can't change. Each new person we meet may be able to teach us something new or, at least, give us a different perspective. In 'The Elements of Retrofit' by NR Walker, Thomas Elkin is probably the best architect in his field, but when he meets Cooper, things that seemed settled, nearly carved in stone, go out the window. He senses that there are some changes coming his way and is not sure he knows how to deal with them.
Even though Tom is successful and an expert in his field doesn't mean that he's a snob. He can be demanding and a perfectionist, but he's not so conceited that he can't recognize talent in another person when he sees it. Even with the world at his fingertips, Tom has that unsatisfied feeling of needing more. He tries dating, but none are fulfilling, because, as perfect as a man may seem, Tom just doesn't feel the emotional connection he needs; he doesn't feel as if anyone understands him. He's taken back when his son's friend, Cooper Jones, turns up at his company to be placed as an intern. Tom has already seen that Cooper is smart from his resume and knows he's got good social skills from meeting him beforehand. He weighs the facts before him and decides that, aside from all the possible impediments, he can't resist choosing Cooper to work with him. Tom is constantly impressed by Cooper's ability to see building details with enthusiasm so similar to his own. Despite their age difference, Tom feels their affinity and it's making Cooper hard to resist. It doesn't hurt that he's so physically attractive either. They find that they work together like a well oiled machine, making great progress, each with a growing respect and admiration for, not only their knowledge of architecture, but as each other as a person. Predictably, they throw caution to the wind and begin a private affair which grows to be so much more, that the dangers of their impropriety is blurred by the pleasure they take in being together.
Cooper Jones is young, bright, and self-assured. He's witty and charming, meeting life head on. Cooper knows how to enjoy life, but also knows how to conduct himself in a business environment. His constant bantering with Tom is a very important element in their relationship. The fact that they can kid with each other shows a growing trust and friendship. Cooper feels the same kind of pull toward Tom, but is trying to be respectful and let him make the first move, even though he's flirting with him outrageously. They dance around each other for a while until Cooper decides that one kiss will get it out of their systems. All that serves to do is throw more fuel on it. Cooper knows it could ruin his career if their relationship were revealed, but he trusts that Tom and he can be discrete enough to make it through his internship without anyone knowing, trying not to think about what happens after that. Their business trip to Australia proves to be a real revelation for both of them, especially since they have freedom there that they'd never had at home, i.e., they were able to go out in public, hold hands, go dancing, etc. It is the point of no return for them. The problem stills remains about how to handle their relationship since Cooper assumes he will be chosen to join the firm. Tom's solution to their dilemma almost tears him apart, but it's truly the only way.
This is a delightful love story. It's well-written with a plot that runs smoothly, joining one scene to the next with relative ease. Sometimes, I get a little lost in stories heavy in the explanations of whatever job they have or whatever sport they may play, but in this story, Tom and Cooper's case, their occupations were so much a part of who they were and why they clicked, that I actually enjoyed it when they talked about it. They are outstanding characters who deal with real problems, abundant in the competitive business world. Tom's secretary added so much enjoyment and continuity. She's entertaining with her wit and sarcasm especially since she admitted using it as her method to keep everyone in line. I loved the way she took care of Tom and, in return, the respect and appreciation he gave her. I also liked how she included Cooper in that caregiving once she knew they were together. It emphasized what a good heart Tom has underneath all that professionalism. For an appealing, informative book with sexy men and life changing decisions, I recommend you read this story. Thanks, so much, NR. I can't wait to read the sequel.