Brian and Tate. Sigh. They are such a special couple. No matter what they had to suffer through to be together they endured it. It’s a couple that has many, many fans according to what I saw on Goodreads. The three books in this series (so far?) are rated plenty of times and the average is still around 4 stars and higher.
I’ve read the three books far apart from each other, the first one, Talker, in September 2010, the second one, Talkers Redemption, in June 2011 and the last one, Talker’s Graduation, only recently, in April 2012. I’ve written a review about the first book (you can find it here) but never wrote about the second book, or third, before. It’s always a pleasure to revisit this young couple, because of the author’s skillful way of writing emotional and heart wrenching scenes. I always need to prepare myself a little bit before jumping into one of her books, and to make sure that I have tissues at hand. Brian and Tate are scarred and damaged, even before they become a couple, and go through a lot of tragic and dramatic events together as well. Each heartbreaking episode in their lives makes their love stronger and more secure though. That’s a great part of what I love about these books, the intense romance. One other thing that I love is how music plays a role in the heroes’ lives.
The first book, Talker, is all about how they meet, hook up and fall in lust/love with each other once Brian has figured out that he isn’t straight at all, but as gay as they come. It’s a sweet GFY story between roommates, but one that has a bit of a dramatic bite, caused by something that happens to Tate while he’s on a date with an asshole.
Tate gets raped by that guy and thinks it was his own fault.
This book is told from Brian’s POV.
The second book, Talkers Redemption, is a lot less sweet, since it zooms in on that dramatic event and the way Tate deals with what happened to him. It is damaging him and ultimately his relationship with Brian as well. The events that follow are heartbreaking and intense.
His rapist comes back and attacks Brian who ends up severely injured in the hospital. After which Tate has to come to terms with what happened to him so he can help to get Brian’s attacker arrested.
And the level of angst is rising quite high, so be warned…
This book is told from Tate’s POV.
The third book, Talker’s Graduation, is told from both characters’ POV and shows how the guys are healing well from their mental and physical injuries. It gives a peek into their future lives, years from the dramatic events in the first two books. Brian has become an artist and one of his pieces finally makes Tate realize how much he means to Brian. This third book provides a solid HEA for the young couple in a future where all is well. There’s even a solution found for their constant lack of money and rather poor living circumstances. They get their well-deserved dream life together.
The three books in this series are very much connected with each other. I suppose one could read them as standalones but I certainly wouldn’t recommend that. The strength of this series lies in the complexity of the characters and their development.
The stories have a remarkable use of flash backs in common, or in the case of the last book, flash forwards. I didn’t mind them, although some readers might dislike the constant jumping back and forth in time. In case of the flash backs in the first two books I thought they were a neat way to hand out background information and give the characters more depth without it taking too much time/pages. With the flash forwards in the third book I had more trouble though. It felt more artificial than the flash backs in the other books and I failed to see the point of using them. In fact, it made me feel confused about the time more than once.
Where the first two books are having a fully developed plot of their own, the third book is more of an afterthought, in which we revisit the MCs again for the sake of revisiting them. I don’t complain about that, as I said, I love revisiting Brain and Tate. But the plot provides not much of a tension this time. Or one would want to consider the persistent hitting on Brian by his boss as some sort of conflict. But it’s flimsy at best and I found it not very believable. Apart from that, I didn’t find the subsequent solution that the boss’s ex-lover brought for Brian and Tate’s living circumstances very convincing nor realistic either. It felt a bit convenient to me.
So, I guess I was expecting a bit more, plot wise, from this last installment after reading the first two books. That’s why I gave Talker’s Graduation a lower rating, 3.5 stars, than the other two, which got 4.5 stars.
Btw: The three books are going to be released together as The Talker Collection in paperback, which will be available May 11 at Dreamspinner Press.
For a chance to win a signed copy of this book make sure to visit Chris' site, Stumbling over Chaos, and leave a comment before 7 pm CDT, Thursday, May 10.