Thursday, March 20, 2014

Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton (Tucker Springs series)

“That was, after all, the entire idea of a pawnshop. Second owner. Second hand. I hoped very much that in my case, it would mean a second chance.” (5)

This romance centers around a pawn shop and two men who have personal baggage and no expectations for a relationship at all.  El owns the pawn shop.  He is a cynic about consumerism (fitting for a pawn shop owner) and relationships.  Paul is at a low point in his life, with his girlfriend of many years dumping him. Unlike El, Paul wears his heart on his sleeve and is a bit insecure  and charmingly clueless. He visits El’s shop to find something to win his ex-girlfriend back and get another shot with her, but what he finds is another completely unexpected chance.

This novel has solid writing, a character-driven story, fun dialogue and humor, engaging leads, and strong supporting characters (plus a cute dog!).  It follows a leisurely pace, letting the story and romance develop. Though not a cozy read by any stretch, there is a sweetness to the growing relationship and romance between Paul and El and frankness and joy in their attitudes towards desire and sex.

The theme about being second choice and clutter could be corny but is handled thoughtfully and integrated well into the story.  It ties into the major issues the characters deal with, rather than just a lame refrain.  Paul’s questioning his sexuality ties to his backstory and questioning the direction of his life, and this story follows him as he de-clutters, literally and figuratively, and rethinks about what matters.

The Tucker Springs series does not follow the same characters, though they may have cameos in the other titles, doing well as standalones or read in order.  The stories are connected by being set in the same place, Tucker Springs, with the characters finding a figurative place to belong, which is something anyone can relate to.  The characters come from different walks of life with their own issues to work through.

Look for Second Hand as an Overdrive e-book on the VBPL Catalog. For more contemporary gay romance, try Glitterland by Alexis Hall and the other Tucker Springs novels.

No comments: