“After Ben” by Con Riley


No more kissing a ghost…

A year after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben, Theo Anderson is still grieving. The last thing he’s looking for is a new lover, but as Theo discovers, sometimes life has its own plans.

The strength of his attraction to fellow gym member Peter is surprising. So is how compelling he finds Morgan, a new friend he makes online. Morgan is witty and fierce on the internet forum they frequent, while Peter is physically present in a way that’s hard to ignore.

Both men bring Theo closer to acceptance: he needs to lay Ben’s memory to rest if he’s to start afresh with a new lover.

Getting honest about the reasons for his yearlong isolation means confronting why he lost Ben… only just when he’s ready to commit, Theo finds he isn’t the only one haunted by the past.

Whether with Peter or with Morgan, choosing to love again—after Ben—might not be Theo’s toughest challenge.


Can I tell you a secret? I was scared of this book. Yep, I had the telltale symptoms of bibliophile cold feet. Trust me, it’s a real thing! I wanted to read it but kept it neatly shelved away on my endless to-be-read list. I finally found my burst of courage and…wow, I’m so grateful for this rerelease which granted me the gentle nudge to ‘just do it already’. I’m a glutton for punishment and love to subject myself to angst aplenty but I knew this was going to be a whole new level.
It’s not just angst, it’s acutely palpable.
It’s not just emotional, it’s a 9.9 on the Ritcher scale of heartquakes.
It’s not just memorable, it has left a scar on my heart.
As I read the final words (which by the way were beyond perfection) I knew, knew that this story would stick with me forever. The people inside the pages feel like family. I feel as if I know them inside and out. I want to hug them and feed them home-cooked meals and assure them they are loved. Because they are. So very much.


We slip into Theo’s story after tragedy has struck. Clearly stated, the title allows us insight into what to expect. Somewhat. Theo has lost his partner Ben. I was grateful that the timeline did not give us a direct view of the accident that swept Ben away. The memories were hard enough to bear. Time has passed but Theo is still emotionally bleeding out and barely a shell of the man he once was. Then one day, he meets Peter. I liked Peter. Peter is gentle and patient and exactly what Theo needed. He reminds his body what sensations and passion are like and what he’s capable of physically. Then we meet Morgan. And I was confused. Wait? Is this some kind of weird triangle? Are they both going to fight over his freshly reconstructed heart? I hope not. That’s not what I signed up for! *spoiler* It’s not. There is no love triangle. It’s a revival. Morgan breathes life back into Theo’s soul while Peter proves that it’s not a betrayal to feel again. Peter is a catalyst or a spark plug if you will. He ignites something crucial in Theo, something that has been missing since Ben left. Which of course takes us to…life after Ben.



Every time I open one of Riley’s stories I am overwhelmed by the writing. It’s not necessarily that I forget how compelling Con’s words are but can’t help the magnetic draw to be…in the moment. I’m oblivious to the real world around me and skip meals and forgo sleep to keep going. It’s that desperate plea of ‘just one more chapter’ until the birds are singing and I realize it’s a new day and I’ve finished the book. This story, in particular, was captivating to the point of exhaustion. I was drained. I was heartbroken. And then I was rewarded with a soothing balm that brought happy tears to my eyes. Grief is not definitive and touches each individual differently. Theo simply couldn’t fathom life without Ben. However, seeing as he had no choice he accepted that he couldn’t continue as he was. He knew Ben would not so quietly remind him that life is precious and should be celebrated. And loving again is not just okay but glorious. If I could try and decipher some of Theo’s dreams I would imagine they would say something like…”You were supposed to be with me till my final breath. Then I realized that I was with you until you took yours. I will never stop loving you or missing you. And if I find love again, it will never eclipse my love for you.” Yeah. Something like that. If you notice, I haven’t talked about Morgan. Nope. And I really don’t want to. I can tell you he’s clever, witty and strong. Oh, so strong.
Okay, I’m going to stop here…the tears are back and I’m going to bow out before it gets ugly….again.
Wait! I almost forgot to tell you how extraordinary the rest of the cast is. Loved them. Loved them hard. Especially Maggie.
Ohhh! And one more thing…that cover!! Outstanding!


bewareBone deep sorrow from losing a soul mate. When Theo lost Ben, he lost himself as well. And the world had the audacity to go on. In doing so, fate offers him another chance at happiness. Imperfections. If you are looking for a perfect story, this isn’t it. Theo isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes. Furthermore, Morgan’s past isn’t completely clear, that’s okay. What we need to know Riley tells us. And if you have questions about Peter (as I did!) you could always peek at the blurb for the next book. Whoop! Bring, It. On.


bookisforIf you were dodging this story like I was I can only tell you that…it will hurt, but I promise you, it’ll be okay. Some of the best books I’ve ever read were also the most painful. This is the ultimate hurt-comfort and love-lost-love-again story. If you take this chance *passes tissues* I can guarantee you won’t forget them.



TITLE: After Ben (Seattle Stories #1)
AUTHOR: Con Riley
PUBLISHER: self-pub
LENGTH: 344 pages
RE-RELEASE DATE: October 5, 2019

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