Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Breaking The Habit
AUTHOR: J.P. Bowie
PUBLISHER: Wilde City Press
LENGTH: 35,463 words
Mike Peterson is determined to break the gambling habit that resulted in two failed marriages, no money, no job, plus almost getting himself and his brother killed when loan sharks came looking for their money. In addition, he’s recently been having some doubts about his on sexuality. When his gay brother suggests he get in touch with an old friend, recently out police officer Larry Bertoli, Mike is at first leery of the idea, and their first meeting isn’t exactly ideal.
They decide to meet again and this time more of what they are and what they could mean to one another is revealed during their time together. They begin a tentative friendship that graduates to a first, fumbling attempt at romance. Can they find the secure relationship they both want, or will Mike’s addiction and lack of self-esteem hinder what could possibly be salvation for both men?
Yeah! A redemption story… I remember Mike from Dumping Las Vegas, another J.P. Bowie book from Wilde City Press. Mike was a total mess in that book, causing all sorts of problems for his brother Jerry, but helping him find his true love. In Breaking The Habit, Mike gets to earn his redemption.
Mike is a recovering gambler, unemployed, and questioning his sexuality. He’s living in a dumpy apartment in San Diego, just barely keeping his shit together. He’s attending Gamblers anonymous meetings and looking for a job. Jerry convinces Mike to call Larry, a man that dated their sister, but is now gay. Mike has met Larry before, some time ago, but Jerry thinks they might have something in common, and could maybe be friends. Mike calls Larry and they meet for drinks. Mike is very uncomfortable in the gay bar that Larry meets him at, at one point announcing very loudly that he is not gay! There may be a little spark of interest there, but it’s hard to see. I actually liked that part, there is no insta-love for these two, also no insta-sex. Mike is pretty hesitant about the whole thing. They meet a couple of times, and there is something building there…
So this is a pretty simple story, boy meets boy, they kinda like each other, they date, DO like each other, fall in love, and live happily ever after. It is a good story, even in its simplicity. I liked Dumping Las Vegas, but I did think it was way too busy of a plot. I liked that this one was calmer. It’s not a long story, so the smaller plot worked very well. I enjoyed seeing Mike come in to his own, and accept his sexuality. I do wish we had gotten to see Larry a little more, this book is all from Mike’s perspective so Larry is a bit of a mystery. I liked the natural feeling development of their relationship. They didn’t rush in to anything immediately like happens so often in romance novels. Mike works hard to improve himself from the beginning of the story to the end, and earns his happily ever after. There is just enough drama to make this short story interesting, and the sex was good and felt mostly realistic based on the experience level of the participants. The writing was good, a few bobbles in details here and there, and the occasional spot of cheesy dialogue, but overall I liked the story.