Wood: A True Lover's Story
Audio Date: 10.20.20
Listening Length: 10hrs and 14 mins
Narrator: Tor Thom
It’s been a long seventeen years but Herschel Wood Jr. is finally a free man and he’s looking forward to reconnecting with his old cellmate, Bishop Stockley, who promised him a place to stay and some help getting back on his feet. Wood had a good life once upon time when he’d owned one of the most successful tattoo shops on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront – until a fatal accident that was his fault cost him everything.
Now at forty-six years old, all Wood wants is to work in another shop on the beach and find a mature, easygoing man to settle down with. But when he gets to his new place and finds he has to share the small trailer with Bishop’s childhood friend, he wasn’t expecting a sexy, smart-mouthed brat that enjoys pushing a man to his limits.
The True Lover's Stories are connected standalones. Each title features a different couple but will contain previously mentioned characters.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhanger. Ends with a HEA.
Note: This is a steaming angsty, age gap, new-to-love romance.
Wood sat uncomfortably in the weak aluminum chair in front of the halfway house director’s desk trying not to bear all his weight down on it. He was sure the flimsy thing had a hundred and fifty pound weight capacity restriction. Wood braced his elbows on his knees reaching for yet another document he had to sign.
Yes, I will report to my parole officer. No, I will not do illegal drugs. No, I won’t engage in any criminal activity. Yes, I will remain in an AA program. No, I will not try to contact my victims. Signed. Agreed. Now can I please just get the hell out of here already? As if the director heard his thoughts, he gave Wood a tight smile.
“One more form and I swear that’s it.” He chuckled loudly which quickly morphed into a rattling cough. “You got a place lined up, don’t ’cha?”
“Yeah,” Wood mumbled.
Mr. Mannis had to finish his hacking before he was able to accept the final form. He skimmed over Wood’s answers then glanced at him over the rim of his reading glasses. “I see your new place is in Norfolk.”
Wood didn’t answer noting those words weren’t posed as a question. He knew the expression Mr. Mannis wore. Norfolk could be a rough city and it’s also where Wood had gotten into trouble. He was advised to avoid certain places and types of people. He didn’t roll his eyes in irritation but he’d already been through this with his parole officer. Instead he listened quietly while he stared down at the three trash bags totaling his entire life’s possessions.
Wood rubbed his hand over his beard before dropping his arm back to his thigh. He stared at the colorful ink wrapped around his forearm, his ink, his designs. “Yeah, I’m gonna stay on with the temp agency. It’s kept me with steady work so…”
Mr. Mannis nodded, and continued to stare at him for a long moment as if he had some kind of telepathic ability. “You know I’ve watched you around the house over the past several months and you seem to stay to yourself. Quiet. Didn’t make any friends… or enemies. You avoided the bullshit that goes on.” He glanced down at the folder. “I read your record, Mr. Wood. And I gotta tell ya, the man that’s lived under this roof the last six months doesn’t seem like the same man that did the things listed here.”
“But he did,” Wood gritted out.
The director cocked his head to the side and Wood held his glare with his own. “You still drink?”
“No.” And more fucking staring.
“The man on this paper sounds violent, angry and quick to-”
“The man on that paper did what he had to do to survive prison all right? And I heard you been doing this job long enough to know that.”
“I have,” Mr. Mannis snarled, leaning forward. “And I also know a man doesn’t do the kind of time you did and come out fine, come out as composed as you’re putting on.”
Wood got to his feet. “I never said I was fine, because you never asked how I was doing. But it doesn’t matter what you think you know. You don’t know me. And I’ve done the required sessions already. So, if you’ll excuse me I don’t wanna keep my ride waiting.”
Mr. Mannis rocked back in his creaky chair. “I hope I never see you again, Mr. Wood.”
“Just Wood. And I can make sure that happens for you.” Wood left the stifling office with his bags slung over his shoulders.
The cold December air felt good against his heated face as he stepped out the doors of his residence for the last five and half months. No more check-ins, bunk-partners, curfews, and a shit-ton of other rules he no longer had to adhere to. He hurried down the steps to the end of the long driveway finally feeling like a some-what free man. He’d gone from being told what to do every day for seventeen years in prison only to be released to Mr. Mannis’ mansion of rules and regulations. He glanced back at the large Victorian-style home, then towards the long street that led out of the city towards the interstate. He almost stumbled at the realization of what that long stretch of road meant. He was on his own now and shit was about to get serious. There was no one to tell him what to do and when to do it, and he admitted that fact scared the shit out of him. But his good friend Bishop Stockley did it and he heard he was getting by all right.
Listen to a Sample
Back in ‘Bishop’, the first book in this series there was mention of someone named Wood (Herschel Wood Jr. or Wood, to his friends). What we learned was that Wood helped Bishop survive his time in prison after he was sent to another facility separating him from his best friend, Trent.
Now here in ‘Wood’ we are given that man’s story as he’s released from prison after 17 years and turns to his friend Bishop for help with re-entering society. Bishop doesn’t hesitate to offer Wood a place to stay as he and his father have both moved out of the trailer they were living in and it is now only occupied by Bishop’s good friend Trent.
For the most part I actually enjoyed this story more than ‘Bishop’. I liked the interaction between Trent and Wood more. Wood was a solid match for Trent and his prickly ways and because of his age and circumstances had the innate ability to read a person and the patience to wade through Trent’s issues in his efforts to break down the man’s walls.
Trent’s as loyal as they come when it comes to the people, he cares about, but he holds a part of himself back from everyone even the brother of his heart, Bishop. If you get him to be honest he’ll tell you…”Everyone leaves eventually”. Loneliness is the only constant in his life.
It’s a hard path to happiness for these two men and there were times that their biggest obstacles were their own stubborn pride. Wood’s efforts to make amends to the people he’s hurt and regain his life as a tattoo artist held more than a few challenges with the potential to break even the strongest person. While Trent needs to be willing to trust, when all he’d ever gotten from doing that in the past was heartache.
Sadly for me there were also some things that just took this story sideways at times leaving me feeling a little frustrated and distracted from my overall enjoyment and unfortunately they were things that for me felt integral to the story so I’m going to keep it spoiler free here and say that while these things didn’t work for me, they may very well work for others or at least not impinge on your enjoyment of the story.
Once again Tor Thom was the narrator for this story and while I enjoyed the overall narration and I am a fan of having the same narrator from story to story in a series, I was a little disappointed that Bishop’s voice in ‘Bishop’ wasn’t quite the same as his voice here in ‘Wood’ but I did appreciate that the chance occurred from one story to the next and not during this audiobook. So overall a thing I noticed but not excessively bothersome…enough to mention but not to impact my enjoyment of rating of this book.
I’m looking forward to the next book as I think we were given a very strong hint as to who the MCs are and I’m pretty sure that things are going to get very, very interesting.
An audio book for ‘Wood: A True Lover’s Story’ was graciously provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her.
A.E.’s novels embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
She’s recently celebrated her 20th book anniversary, and is well-known for her hardcore, love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.
Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peek at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.
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