Title: Mixed Signals 2nd edition
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Publication date: February 26, 2019
Length: 234 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Devastatingly handsome pilot Frank Sheldon is doing his best to avoid his inheritance of money, charm, and good looks by rebuilding his life on his own terms after being discharged from the Air Force just before the repeal of DADT. When he unexpectedly meets the eccentric geek Benjamin Kaplan, sparks don’t quite fly, despite Benjamin’s obvious interest. Frank is not one to back down from a challenge, but what does any of that have to do with his sister’s campaign for governor, or the muckraking political website attacking her opponent, who just happens to be Frank’s unlamented, very closeted, ex-boyfriend? It’s hard to fall in love when all you are getting is mixed signals.
It seems cliché and yet the idea of a rich boy having everything but the courage to face his life and make decisions rather than allowing others to plot his course becomes very real in Cooper West’s ’s newest release, Mixed Signals. Frank has always wanted to fly—it and the air force have been his passion since he was a young boy but when that is taken away after being discovered with another man in the era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) he watches his dream float away. Now he flies a chopper for medical emergencies and lives a life that, while not the one he wanted, keeps him feeling useful and in the air. Then he meets a gruff, grumpy man at the hair salon and his world turns upside down. For the first time his model good looks don’t seem to have any effect on the man who has captured his interest. Little does he know that Dr. Benjamin Kaplan has a few secrets in his closet that will ultimately spell near disaster for Frank’s sister and her hopes for the governor’s seat she is campaigning for and has roped Frank into supporting.
I have to admit that the trope featuring the poor rich boy is usually one that rarely breaks any new ground for me and that rarely captures my interest completely. Having said that, I am now going to eat my words when it comes to Frank and his world that is so nicely created by author Cooper West. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Benjamin didn’t fall for Frank immediately and held his own with his acerbic wit and curmudgeonly ways. Or maybe it was the healthy dislike I felt for the way in which both his sister and his father treated Frank like a pawn in their political and monetary endeavors while wrapping it up in the guise of love. Either way all I know is that Frank captured my interest and a little bit of my heart.
The sharp dialogue and repartee between Frank and Benjamin kept this novel from falling into just being a sappy romance and the way in which Benjamin retained his own intelligence and sense of self-preservation around the devastatingly rich and handsome Frank leant an air of believability to the novel that I really appreciated. But I think it was Frank’s refusal to feel sorry for himself while acknowledging that his wealth did indeed give him every physical thing he could want but not the most important thing that was missing from his life-someone to love and trust with is heart that hooked me in. Poor Frank had been emotionally burned and used terribly by a childhood first love and that painful encounter shaped much of his adult life. Escaping it often meant giving in to which ever person tried to control his life choices be it either his sister or his father. I really found myself hating how they manipulated him into things that ultimately were good for him but still meant he had to deal with doing things he’d rather not and confront past memories he’d rather see on his own terms—choices that he sometimes so desperately had been avoiding. Instead of that putting pressure on Frank, it gave him freedom and Benjamin became the one true constant in Frank’s life that didn’t want anything from him but rather just wanted to be with him. That made their love story all the richer and beautiful.
Cooper West’s Mixed Signals was a lovely romance that saw a tired old trope revitalized and an unusual pairing of two polar opposite men believably work out. I really enjoyed this novel and will check out the author’s other work in the future.
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