Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cost of Repairs by AM Arthur

Why I read it: Various of my Goodreads friends have read and liked this one and I bought it on impulse.  Sometimes when I can't decide what to read from what's on my TBR, I just go and buy something else.  (This may explain the size of my TBR *sigh*).

What it's about (from Goodreads): "Fixing the home can heal the heart-if you can find all the pieces."
Police officer Samuel Briggs is getting to know the people on his new, third-shift beat, but he'd prefer they not know too much about him-or the painful past that drove him away from New Mexico to start fresh in small-town Stratton, PA.

All he wants is peace, a manageable routine, and time to fix up his project home. There's no room in his broken heart for a new relationship. It's crowded with too many memories. But there's something about the Dixie's Cup short-order cook, who's flirty one minute, distracted the next, that piques Sam's interest.

Part-time cook, part-time hardware salesman and full-time handyman Rey King lives to work-but not because he loves it. Relationships? No time. Until one glance at Sam's haunted eyes sends a plumb line straight to his wary heart.

One afternoon of impulsive, no-strings sex begins to grow into a cautious friendship. But when Rey is seriously injured protecting a friend, the cracks in their already shaky foundation begin to show. Falling in love wasn't in either man's recovery plan...and this time, the risk could be too great.

Warning: Contains one emotionally wrecked cop, one angsty short-order cook, a few too many secrets, some meddling small-town folk, and plenty of hot man-on-man action.

What worked for me (and what didn't): I enjoyed this story, but ultimately, found it a bit too overwrought and somewhat incomplete to truly satisfy.  I like an angsty story. I don't shy away from tortured characters - in fact, just the opposite.  Here, both Sam and Rey are very broken and hurt, each having major issues to deal with.    That was one of the things which attracted me to the story, but for such a tale to completely win me over, I need to see the characters triumph over their adversity and there wasn't quite enough of it in this one for me.

Sam's lover had been horribly murdered and he is still coping with the after effects of that trauma.  I could see that by the end of the story, he had mostly moved on and made a home for himself in Stratton  but Rey's story felt incomplete to me.  I really wanted to know what was going to happen with his daughter - surely he wasn't going to leave things that way?  I was hoping for that story to be resolved and instead, there was a suspense subplot which I didn't entirely buy, involving Sam's previous trauma.

It seemed to me that the angst and adversity were just piled on these two characters so much, they could hardly get a break.  Rey's hand injury wasn't completely resolved by the end of the story and I didn't understand the mechanism of how he got out from under his loans (this may be a US thing that I don't understand though).  As for Sam, late in the book, further past trauma is revealed, in case they don't already have enough going on.

The relationship between Sam and Rey was lovely though. I would have liked more of it in fact. I liked how they were together and the sex was pretty hot.  I would have liked to see the story focus more on them and leave the suspense-y part out altogether.

What else? There was some strange word choices/sentence structure in the book which seemed clumsy to me (mostly in the front section of the book).  For example:
"He deferred to her to lead them there."
"Regaled with the image of Dixie standing next to a bathroom sink sucking on a candy cane made him chuckle."
And in the first section of the book, there was way too much chuffing and huffing.  It was used 10 times in the first 40 pages, 4 times within 2 paragraphs.  But, after about page 40 I didn't see it again which improved my experience of the story markedly.

I think the writing improved as the book went on but there were aspects to the story left undone that left me unsatisfied, ultimately changing the book from around the B/B- mark to the C+.

Grade?  C+

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