The first book in the Tucker Springs series. There are spoilers in this review.
-Review by Cindi
Jason Davis is in pain. Serious pain. He suffered a severe shoulder injury years earlier and the pain has persisted over time. On top of that, he is on the verge of bankruptcy. He owns a large home that he purchased with a former lover. Once said lover disappeared, Jason was stuck with a big mortgage. He owns a gay bar that continues to drain his resources. He is in over his head financially with no idea how to get above water. The financial stress exacerbates the debilitating pain in his shoulder. Scalding showers and pain pills are the only way he can get any type of relief and this relief is only short term. He is desperate in more ways than one. Jason's best friend, Seth, eventually talks him into seeing an acupuncturist, Michael, a childhood friend of Seth's.
Michael Whitman is a divorced man who has joint custody of his 7-year-old son Dylan. He has a successful practice but still has problems keeping up with his bills as Tucker Springs has a very high cost of living. Moving to another town is not an option because of his son.
Jason reluctantly schedules an appointment to see Michael. Going in, he is convinced that acupuncture is bogus but he is at the end of his rope with the pain and is willing to try anything in hopes of getting relief. Seeing Michael for the first time blindsides him. Michael is gorgeous.
"He'd taken that old cliche 'tall, dark and handsome' and made it his little bitch."
Michael is also straight. Or so it seems. After a couple of visits (where Jason did get physical relief) he makes Michael a proposition. Move into his huge home and share expenses. This will solve both of their financial problems. It would give Dylan somewhere to live during the two weeks a month he lives with Michael that is not a tiny apartment. Eventually Michael agrees. Living in the same home with the man who Jason wants more than anything is difficult but necessary because of the financial strain of both men. They fall into a routine and eventually form a close friendship. It turns into more much later.
- Seth. He is a pretty awesome character. A good friend to both Jason and Michael. I hope to see his story soon.
- Dylan. He is not in the book much but there is one scene (toward the end) when I fell in love with the kid. "Can I have a pudding cup?" If you read the book, you will see why that one sentence is important.
- Daina, Michael's ex wife. She is not written as the typical bitchy female that is so common in m/m books.
- No insta-love. Insta-lust, definitely, but no insta-love. The story is allowed to play out with the two mains getting to know each other before anything emotional or sexual happens.
What I did NOT like about this book:
- Michael. Maybe I should say Michael's actions... not Michael as a character. In one important part of the book, he and Jason are outside having a serious conversation. During this conversation, he stresses to Jason over and over that he has never been interested in men and that he never could be. A few days later, he's having sex with a man down the hall from Jason's bedroom. The walls are so thin that Jason is very aware of what is going on. Later, the lies were explained satisfactorily. The tryst with the unknown man? Not at all. Michael tells Jason (much later) that the reason he had sex with this man (his first, he says) is because he wanted to make sure that being with a man was what he actually wanted before approaching Jason. What if he froze with Jason and decided that was not what he really wanted and they were still stuck living together? Okay, yeah, I get that. But to bring this stranger into Jason's home knowing how thin the walls are and thinking that Jason won't hear them? Uh, no.
- The acupuncture procedures were described in minute detail. Yes, it was interesting but at times I felt that I was being given lessens and would be tested later.
- Jason betrays Michael's trust by outing him to Seth. His reasons in no way justified him doing this. Michael was having major issues coming to terms with his sexuality to himself... to be outed to his oldest friend was inexcusable.
Overall, I have to say that this was a good story, not a great one. This has a HFN ending. It definitely was not a HEA. Granted, this is part of a series but the subsequent books are written by different authors. I wonder how much time will be given to Michael and Jason? Of course, I won't know until I read them. I will go into the next in hopes of seeing Michael and Jason's future explained satisfactory. As for now, I am not pleased with the ending on this one. Michael and Jason go through a lot to get together (though I felt the main reasons keeping them apart were petty). I would like to see them in an actual relationship, not just in the early stages of one. And by this, I don't mean an occasional mention of the characters in a subsequent book.