Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review of Never a Hero by Marie Sexton

Marie Sexton
Never a Hero (Tucker Springs #5)
Riptide Publishing | May 13, 2013 | 167 pages

Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here

Everyone deserves a hero.

Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.

Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.

Genre & Keywords: Contemporary Romance, M/M, Neighbors, Living with a Disability, Trust, Secrets, Evil Mother

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames

We've met Nick, the veterinarian, in a previous book of the Tucker Springs series, but his and Owen's story can be perfectly read as a stand-alone. Nick was a bit of an enigma though and I'm glad he got his own book. After finishing the story everything about him is as clear as crystal but I can't say it will be for you too after reading this review, because I'll try to avoid major spoilers for your reading pleasure. Nick's secrets are an important part of the plot, and the reader - along with Owen - is kept in the dark about them for quite a while too. They are the reason why he keeps pushing Owen away as more than a friend, while there's obviously a fierce attraction between them.

This behavior of Nick makes you want to smack some sense into him, at first, because we only learn about his reasons later on. Especially, since Owen is such a damaged character and a blind man can see that Nick is good for him. Owen has a congenitally amputated arm and has been raised to be ashamed of it. Nick's sister has been born with a similar amputation (what are the odds, right?) and introducing Owen to her makes Owen see there's another way of dealing with his disability. It's an eye opener for him. But more than that, Nick's feelings of affection and attraction for Owen are rather healing for him. Therefore Nick's rejection after their first intimate moment is hurting him so much.

What I loved is that Owen doesn't let his hurt feelings push him back into his solitude and shyness again. Once Nick has revealed his secret, Owen is temporarily set back but than he realizes soon enough what needs to be done. Instead of depending on Nick being his hero, he's determined to become Nick's hero. And his own hero too. For the first time in his life he finds the courage to do something his mother would've never approved of and more than that to tell her off about her hurtful and negative behavior. Owen's growth as a character is done well and convincingly. Sexton is one of the few authors that create characters of flesh and blood, bringing them to life with an apparent ease that I can only admire. It makes me want to jump right into her stories and start hugging her heroes, or applauding for them, as if they were real people. Owen is definitely such a character I want to do that for, as well as for Nick, whose character is almost as heartbreaking as Owen's.

That's definitely another element I love about this novel: Sexton's quality to evoke a range of emotions. She makes it easy for me as a reader to empathize with her main characters. Their layered feelings are written and conveyed well. Let me warn you though when you're not a lover of dramatic developments and a lot of angst in your stories, this novel is probably not for you. However, I am a sucker for angst and drama, especially when it's as nicely executed as here. But yeah, the drama level is rather high, life has dealt quite some bad cards to these guys. Nonetheless, it's not a depressing story. Sexton managed to leave me with a positive afterglow once I finished the book.

Overall, Never A Hero is an emotional and angsty story, that is yet sweet and romantic, while it has plenty of unique elements and rather memorable heroes. Sexton shows courage by choosing the dramatic topics she did, and skill by dealing with them the way she did. This well-written novel is a recommendation for readers that seek something more, that extra emotional layer, in their romance stories and for readers who are looking for something mildly different and unique.

Books in this series:
#1 Where Nerves End by LA Witt (read my review here)
#2 Second Hand by Marie Sexton & Heidi Cullinan
#3 Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan
#4 Covet Thy Neighbor by LA Witt
#5 Never A Hero by Marie Sexton

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