Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review of Never a Hero by Marie Sexton

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.


The wonderfully entertaining and sexy Tucker Springs series continues with Never a Hero which features a character with disabilities and a seemingly healthy man with a secret that weighs on him heavily.  Ms. Sexton has created a story that deals with serious issues in a mostly believable and heartbreaking way and through their burgeoning relationship two men help each other to heal from the emotional scars leveled at them by others.

As a disabled person I'm always on the lookout for books dealing with disabilities to determine their authenticity in representing the ups and downs of living with a disability.  I'm happy to say that Ms. Sexton does an admirable job in presenting Owen's unique disability and the extra issues that his perfectionistic mother has heaped on him.  Owen's childhood was difficult as his mother's embarrassment of his deformed arm was transferred to him.  He was made to feel ashamed and that his deformity was something to hide.  His shame and the intense pressure to act as able-bodied as possible led to a stuttering problem that still exists and gets worse under pressure and when dealing with his mother.  Add in a bit of dallying with another boy in school and it's just one more thing for his mother to belittle him about.  All these issues have manifested in him becoming a hermit.  He has very little interaction with the world outside his front door until a sexy new neighbor moves in and forces Owen out into the world.  Owen's early difficulties with going out are understandable and I ached for the difficulties he experienced but was happy he persevered and kept putting himself out there.  I was happy too that he had the fun and flirty Nick cheering him on and for being so supportive.  Owen seems very naive as the story starts but the more he interacts with Nick and the outside world, the more mature he becomes.  He finally starts standing up for himself against his mother and also when it comes to his burgeoning relationship with Nick.  He's attracted to Nick the moment he first sees him and loves spending time with him as he always feels like he can be himself in his presence, so it's only natural he wants more.  With Nick's constant flirting and the unrelenting sexual tension surrounding them you'd expect the same, but Nick holds back and insists they can't go all the way in the literal sense.  It's frustrating for Owen and the reader as Nick never explains himself and his hot and cold interactions with Owen left me disappointed in Nick at times.  Owen has to experience a lot of hurt courtesy of Nick's secret before the truth finally comes out in a quickly wrapped up conclusion.

Nick is the exact opposite of Owen in that he's outgoing, comfortable in his skin, and at ease with his sexuality.  He's immediately drawn to Owen and takes him under his wing to get him out into the world by introducing him to his friends and his sister, who has the same disability.  He feels like an older mentor at the start but as their relationship progresses they're on a more even level.  He's attracted to him too but knows he has to hold back in order to keep him safe.  Even though his thinking is flawed based on current medical knowledge, I can understand his fear as he was harmed unintentionally himself and knows how easily Owen could get hurt.  He cares so much for him that he doesn't want to take any chances.  He's also going through his own emotional trauma as he deals with the implications of what his body is going through and doesn't want to burden Owen with more as he's already been through so much.  Even though I was left frustrated by Nick in this situation I still liked him and the confidence he brought Owen and was rooting for their HEA.

I liked the slow build-up of their relationship as it gave them time to get to know each other.  They both gave emotional strength to the other that allowed them to fight their demons and move forward with their lives.  Seeing the denizens of Tucker Springs reacquainted us with people we've met before and new ones whose stories I'm greatly anticipating.  I equally enjoyed Nick's sister and her funny take on her disability and the ease and acceptance of it that she showed to Owen that helped him find his own acceptance.  His mother was a truly vile woman who cared more for appearances than reality.  I was happy her son and husband finally stood up to her but wished there had been a much harsher comeuppance for her.  On a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the difficult issues it dealt with.  While I was occasionally annoyed by Nick I still found him to be a perfect match for Owen and am gladdened by their HEA and hope to see glimpses of them in the future.

My rating for this is a B+

*I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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