A Tucker Springs Novel
Author: Marie Sexton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Length: 183 pages
Reviewed by Michael
Owen Meade is in need of a hero. Sheltered, ashamed, and ridiculed by his own mother for his sexuality, his stutter, and his congenital arm amputation, Owen lives like a hermit, rarely leaving his apartment. He hardly dares to hope for more… until veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Charming, handsome Nick steals past Owen’s defenses and makes him feel almost normal. Meeting his fiery, determined little sister, June, who was born with a similar amputation, helps too. June always seems to get her way—she even convinces Owen to sign up for piano lessons with her. Suddenly the only thing standing between Owen and his perfect life is Nick. No matter how much he flirts, how attracted to Owen he seems to be, or how much time they spend together, Nick always pulls away.
Caught between his mother’s contempt and Nick’s stubbornness, Owen makes a decision. It’s time to be the hero of his own story, and that means going after what he wants: not just Nick, but the full life he deserves.
Owen broke my heart through the first half of this book. He’s a total shut-in and recluse, pummeled by his b-word of a mother who constantly put him down because of his stutter as well as his birth defect. His mother was more about appearances than anything, and Owen wasn’t perfect enough for her.
A child learns to view themselves through the lens of a parent, and when a parent is constantly belittling the child, and told how worthless they are, the child becomes indoctrinated into the same belief about themselves. This is on full display for most of this book.
After Owen’s neighbor Regina moves out, Nick moves into her place. Owen’s feelings toward Regina made no sense to me, and honestly bordered on kind of creepy.
Nick starts off as a strong, caring, empathetic character whose sister has the same condition as Owen. June is quite literally Owen’s opposite in absolutely every way. And I do mean EVERY WAY. Personally, I think Owen learned more from her about himself than he did from Nick.
Of course, because of his mother’s poor treatment, Owen doesn’t understand how a man— almost as perfect as Nick— could be attracted to him. Yet Nick is. But Nick will only allow things to go so far.
The Nick reveals his Big Life Changing Secret (yes, the caps are intentional) and suddenly his character changes. He goes from self-assured, to one-prone, to mental self-flagellation. Owen and Nick’s roles are almost reversed. To be honest, I found the change in Nick disheartening. His change and fears would have made sense if this book were set in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. Without going into detail for fear of spoiling the Big Life Changing Secret, I wanted to reach into the book and slap Nick a few times. He simply acted…dumb. And I think that was the biggest let down for me, to see someone who is full of self-confidence turn into a martyr.
This book started off strong, about Owen finally finding his inner strength. But I think it was done so at the expense of Nicks character.
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