Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Purchase at Riptide
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Amber Shah
Length: 38k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.
This story gives us a low key look at Stuart, who is grieving the loss of his husband, and Paul, whose long distance relationship has crumbled and how the two of them get past the pain enough to have a second chance.
Given the grieving aspects both characters have, expecting fireworks isn’t on, but the key here is so low that it’s nearly undetectable. Even when the men push each other’s pain buttons, which they manage to do several times, it’s still very muted. The resolutions are “I’m sorry” and done, which we do expect from adults. There just isn’t a lot going on to explain why Stuart and Paul have any particular attraction to each other besides proximity. As baby steps past the worst of the grieving, this works, as fodder for anything longer term than next week, not really.
Paul has a couple unlikeable elements going, unfortunately. If a parental figure he knows and likes has been deathly ill, isn’t the kind thing to do to call and inquire, express some joy that things are looking up? Or send a card or some flowers? Is nurturing a bit of doubt of the lie worth abandoning human consideration? Of course, then he’d know for sure if Ben was lying, although his BS detector should have pinned the meter. I wanted Paul to grow a pair, though when he finally did, we only hear about it afterwards, we aren’t witness to it. My irritation with him only grew when he pulled a couple of low blows on Stuart, that frankly came out of nowhere.
Both of them needed to get out of their stagnant phases and were able to move each other beyond that, but the real joy of love blooming was with Stuart’s father and Paul’s mother, who were exploring their own possibilities together. The story probably shouldn’t be read with the expectation of romance. 3.5 marbles