A surprise package that won me over with it's great characters and their story.
- Review by Kazza K
**Spoiler Free Review**
When I first started reading Night Shift I wasn't sure. I'd only read one or two chapters and the book gets into a blow job pretty quickly with two guys who have just met and I thought, 'nah, not feeling this'. The writing also seemed a bit on the simpler side. I was so wrong. I am very glad I didn't allow my quick-to-judge style get in the way of me reading what was an incredibly interesting and quite lovely story. I hadn't read any of the reviews of the book leading in (there are some that give things away) so I didn't know Luka's past, which is the way it should be. I worked it out about half way through, in my own time. It was nice when I did because it was unexpected. And it was cleverly written.
Aiden is twenty nine turning thirty, an ex con on parole. He has a rap sheet a mile long. He is the product of an unfeeling and messed up foster care system. He's been into drugs, alcohol (he's been sober since his last incarceration), he has also hooked when he needed to survive. All from a young age. He's had a tough life. This is not thrown at you all at once but is developed well. You learn bit by bit what Aiden's life has been like. Not shiny at all. Life is still not shiny. He is a janitor at the Snooze-Inn Motel working the night shift. He feels glad he has a job - the economy is bad, he is an ex con -
But the boredom got to him, the way the hours crawled by as he swept and mopped and emptied trash cans. The big excitement came when some drunk stumbled into the motel lobby after the bars had closed, and didn't make it to his own room before puking.
There was something wrong with a job if the high point included cleaning up vomit.
I really liked Aiden. I thought he was perfectly drawn, a mix between insecure inside and tough outside. A man of few words but a decent man who has had bad breaks. Still, he is working and his parole officer Ms Simmons is there for him, organised his job, encouraging him to get a plan for his future. Aiden has obtained his GED. Likes reading and is trying to make a go of life this time around-
He had a decent parole officer this time, a woman who was truly rooting for him, and for the first time in his life, Aiden was really trying. Trying to stay out of prison, trying to stay away from booze, trying to get somewhere in his life.
Luka is the new, but temporary, night shift security guard at the Snooze-Inn. He has replaced the regular guard, Frank, who is recovering after a heart attack. Luka obviously has finely tuned gaydar because before you can say Bob's your Uncle he has Aiden's cock in his mouth and is giving him a major league blowjob in the meal room on Aiden's break. Then he is off without many words or wanting anything in return. Leaving Aiden sated but confused.
Luka is an interesting character.
Luka sat opposite him and then handed the bag over. But when Aiden dug in, he discovered only one burger and one bag of fries.
"Where are you going?"
"To the breakfast area. There's some plastic knives there so we can split the food."
"Oh, it is all for you."
"I bought this for you."
Aiden was immediately wary. "Why?"
"Because I like you and I wished to give you a small gift. Please accept it." He quirked his lips into a crooked grin. "Where I come from, it is an insult to refuse a gift. You would not insult me would you?"
It was a thoughtful gift as Aiden didn't always have the money to buy much food for himself.
The secondary characters were all terrific too. The PO, Ms Simmons, the book club members. There is no antagonist here. There is no need given the story is about two very lonely and troubled men, both with their own demons to overcome. Aiden has never had a relationship and Luka's past partners haven't hung around.
It was nice that this book wasn't about perfect men with perfect lives, rather it was about a janitor and a security guard. I loved the message of this book - that you can break the cycle of your past. It just takes someone to believe in you. For you to believe in you -
Fuck, maybe Frank had recovered from his heart attack. Maybe Luka decided to take off, find another job, another place to live, another lover.
Or maybe it will be all okay, said a small voice in his head. A new voice. He kind of liked it. He hoped it would stick around.
It also helps to reach out and to find the positives in things where you can. I liked that two lonely men found one another in the unlikeliest of places at the unlikeliest of times, and they didn't judge the other for who they were. That you can be an inherently decent person who has had some tough breaks, but given some opportunity you can give life and love a real go if you so choose.
The sex in this book was unusual. Luka always wanting to give a blow job. Not expecting anything in return. That specific changes, and the further the book went the hotter things got between them. That is something that doesn't happen often. I liked the fact that Aiden's desire for alcohol was ever-present. Would he/wouldn't he take it up again? Would he give in to his old lifestyle? because his job is pretty basic, his apartment is less than basic, he had no friends on the straight and narrow, and he was insecure about people - just joining a book club seemed so hard. Luka may be a security guard but he knows history, recites poetry. Most of all he appreciates reading, as does Aiden.
I really enjoyed this book so much. It was read in a single sitting as I was invested in the characters and their story. I wanted to see what would happen and how these two men would make it work. I wanted it to work. They deserved it. The ending is happy but I could certainly do with more. I hope Ms Fielding gives us more of Aiden and Luka because I'd love to revisit them, even in a short read. Highly recommended for people who enjoy seeing people get a second chance, flawed yet sweet MC's, and a nice ending.
I'll just leave with some words from Luka.
Luka smiled slightly and leaned his body against Aiden's. "Give us time, please. I think we hold promise together. Let us see if that promise is kept. If so, I will tell you everything and then...oh, Aiden, I hope then your feelings for me will outweigh your horror and disgust." He gave a small, sad laugh." It will be a gamble for me, you see, and I am too greedy for you to risk losing you yet. Please forgive me."
This book was supplied to me by the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, in return for an honest review.