Reviewed by Chris
AUTHOR: E.J. Russell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 270 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 5, 2016
After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.
Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.
Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.
Gideon Wallace is in a bit of a bind. His web design business is not going nearly as well as it had been last year, and he is quickly running out of money. Forced to take on a job that requires him to get a bit more hands-on than he is used to, Gideon only hopes that if he can impress his bosses enough (and somehow restrains himself from bludgeoning the idiots with his laptop) he will get a chance to do something he is actually good at. If he can’t do the job, though, it will be a lot more than his job on the the line.
Alex Henning has been crushing on Gideon for ages, but he well knows that a blue-collar, uneducated, nobody is nowhere near Gideon’s regular league. Not that he has time to be even thinking of dating his little sister’s best friend. His father is slowly slipping further into dementia, and Alex–between trying to keep his family together and save up enough money to one-day do the dreaded deed of sending his father into more full-time care–doesn’t have a moment to spare. Doesn’t mean that he can stop himself from looking, though.
Gideon doesn’t date a guy for more than two dates, Alex doesn’t have the time for one, but when Gideon finds himself being sabotaged by idiocy (and maybe a bit more) Alex offers to help the man out. In exchange for three dates and a chance to prove that he is a good as–if not better–then the men Gideon usually goes for. When Gideon reluctantly agrees, it is almost too good to be true. Which is never a good sign. For either of them.
While I did thoroughly enjoy this story, I must admit that there was a certain sadness to it. Especially as the story goes along. Watching Alex’s father deal with his problems was a bit heartbreaking. You can really tell how hard it is on Alex, his mother, and his sister. Having a man–by all accounts a wonderful man and father–not even recognize the people he cared most for…damn. I have to share Gideon’s feeling on the whole thing. It must be terrifying to know that you are slowly losing your mind and memories. But it must also be devastating for those who have to watch it happen and have no way to stop it or even help stand it, on most days. I found these parts of the story to be some of the best. I love the other stuff, but these really brought the heart and soul to the story. Even if the ending, here at least, was never going to be a happy one.
But never fear, this is not all heartbreak and tears. I found the rest of the story worked well as a balance for all that sadness. The secondary characters were very interesting, and Alex and Gideon really had some sparks going. Though, on must admit that at times those sparks were a bit on the about-to-get-burned side. For all that these two are a bit oil-and-water the fact that they have to work around that–around preconceived prejudices about class and smarts–kinda makes this story better. Nothing comes easy in this book, and the working it out was a lot of fun to read.
Gideon may have taken a while for me to warm up to, but in the end I found him really understandable. I just had a bit of hard time getting past the flighty and somewhat dickish persona he puts on, but there is more to him, and as the story goes along, and he stops being so walled-off, there was certainly something about him that made me sympathize. Alex was certainly a good foil for him, and they tended to smooth out each other’s rough patches. Eventually.
I had fun reading this, though there were one or two places that just didn’t work for me, but on the whole it was good. The characters were extremely well written, and while there were certainly sad parts they made this book really come alive.