My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 26th 2013
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 16+
Genres & Themes: Adult, M/M romance, Contemporary Romance, Mental Illness
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
>>>>> OH, THE FEELS <<<<<
I still couldn’t break his gaze. I was dying in the sweetness of looking at him. His eyes. The laughing mouth that had kissed mine, and made me burn and shiver and feel. Chiselled wannabe-model features. The overly tended beard and lashings of fake tan that had somehow stopped being objectionable. It was official: I’d lost it.
Ash… Darian… You belong together. They’re opposites, unbelievably different personality-wise, yet, somehow, they are the perfect match. If I had doubts at the beginning – Darian is somewhat giddy and naïve and has this unmistakable boyish charm unlike Ash – my uncertainties faltered after I saw what heartfelt chemistry those two share. And this might sound unimportant to some, but, to my eyes, it is capital, in order for there to be a deep and true connection between two people, that the latter possess a similar sense of humour. And Ash & Darian did. I swear, every time one of them cracked a joke and made the other laugh, I could almost hear the sound of it.
Unsurprisingly, this was a character-driven story. Although, I could say that it was mainly driven by the two main protagonists alone, since the secondary ones served when needed to either heroes, no more. Which is a shame, truth be told, because Darian’s people were fun! And I wouldn’t have minded reading about them in an augmented number of chapters.
It was interesting to see how Ash brought to the story a very serious atmosphere while Darian loosened it with his almost-childish and overly talkative self. A needed balance, in my case, since mental illness is a main subject in this story and this theme most of the time goes either hit or miss for me. But the dialogs were so clever and the humour exactly my type – just the right amount of sarcasm – that never did Ash’s depression and bipolarity feel oppressive to me, as a reader. It was lovely to see how he had friends looking out for him and, of course, Darian giving him so much of himself.
The writing helped in making Ash’s character – most precisely his status as successful writer – a convincing one. Why? Because it was impressive. So many beautiful quotes about love and life and knowing what you want worth being written down and then affixed to something you carry with you daily; the author’s words got to me, so that’s what I would do. Am going to do.
The only thing that confused me was Darian’s accent. Never have I read a book with a main character continuously speaking with an accent, so, here and there, there were some words I tried to but couldn’t decipher. Not something critical though, thus, all is well.
Recommended to anyone looking for a significant read combining humour, the meaning of loving someone and ourselves, accepting who we are and are meant to be and… the meaning of second chances.
‘‘My name’s Darian Taylor.’’ We shook hands solemnly. Then he grinned. ‘‘And I’m gonna make sure you nevva forget it.’’