This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Riptide
Released on April 29, 2016
Length: 4 hours 54 min
This is the fifth book in the Tucker Springs series and I believe the second one that the author has written. The stories can all be read standalone or even out of order though there is a loose connection to earlier couples flitting through for cameos or a few scenes.
This one tackled two characters with painful and difficult situations. I appreciated that the author had to the courage and emotional writing depth to go there for this story that took it from typical and predictable to something beyond.
The story opens with reclusive Owen Meade watching his downstairs neighbor move out and a new neighbor, Nick Reynolds, moving in. Owen has a birth defect that left him with a semi amputated arm. He also stutters and has mild anxiety issues as a result of the pressure his mom put on him to be and act ‘normal’. After growing up and feeling inferior and an object of disgust, he lives to himself through his job that he can work at alone, his groceries delivered to his door, and his avoidance of people as much as possible.
But Nick doesn’t let him hide and doesn’t seem to understand why Owen freaks about being different. Nick has him over for a beer, talks him into going out for dinner, and even hanging out with Nick’s friends.
Owen learns that Nick’s sister was born with the same congenital issue just the opposite arm which explains Nick’s ease with Owen. June is fiery and independent and attempts whatever she wants and their parents are supportive of her which puts Owen’s painful past in his mind. But he lets her talk him into taking piano lessons and gearing up for a recital where they will play a duet. Unbelievable and surreal, he thinks!
Owen blooms under Nick’s attention and starts to develop feelings, but Nick shuts him down every time Owen tries to take it beyond friendship. Nick says it is not Owen, but something about him. Nick is regretful and his eyes silently give away that Nick is not uninterested. So why can’t they be together? The truth staggers Owen and he knows they can’t get past that. Or can they? Maybe instead of finding a hero, Owen will get the chance to a be a hero.
This is a gently-paced character-driven story. It is all from Owen’s perspective which was a good choice because Nick’s secret is the big build up and source of conflict for the story. Oh, not that Owen’s life doesn’t provide more conflict, but only in his own personal growth journey. His mom was a real piece of work.
Both these guys are living lonely, isolated lives though it isn’t as obvious with Nick since he does work as a veterinarian and he has a circle of friends. The pacing is even if slow, but there is an obvious build of tension and passion when they go from strangers, to neighbors, to friends, and then have to fight for more if they want it.
I enjoyed these characters. They are colorful and real. Owen seems the weak and vulnerable one in the beginning next to Nick’s vibrant personality and sexy appeal, but as the story is unveiled, there is more than meets the eye for both. They are a great pair and it was neat how the author took the time to show all the little things that made them so.
Nick’s secretView Spoiler »He’s HIV positive « Hide Spoiler
is the big thing that takes this story above and beyond the usual. I’ve only read one other romance that introduced this element. I thought it was handled deftly with knowledge and sensitivity. Sorry, I’m being vague, but the book makes this the big element and I don’t want to ruin it for others.
As to the narration, a familiar and liked voice of Iggy Toma, made it an engaging additional piece to an already good story. Characters, pacing, timing, and tone were handled well so I barely noticed I was being read to and could just appreciate the story.
In summary, this was probably my favorite story of the series. It hit my emotions and drew me in. I wanted this romance and I liked the characters along with the situation. I would recommend this for those who like an emotional, thoughtful M/M small town contemporary romance.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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