Length: 51,000 words
Great things come in small packages…
Ben Lethbridge doesn’t have many vices left. He lost his youth to raising his little sister to adulthood, then made up for lost time with reckless abandon. Two years of constant partying—and ignoring his diabetes—has left him tied to a home dialysis regimen.
He can work from home, fortunately, but most of life’s little luxuries are forbidden. Except for watching porn… and fantasising over Ollie, the gorgeous 51000purple-haired skateboarder who delivers his discreetly packaged DVDs.
Their doorstep banter is the highlight of Ben’s solitary day, but his paranoia over his illness-ravaged body prevents him from seeing their flirting for what it really is. He knows Ollie is far too young for him anyway, but he figures there’s no harm in sprucing himself up a bit.
Then one day, a package accidentally splits open, revealing Ben’s dirty little secret. But instead of Ollie being repelled they make an unexpected connection that has Ben wondering if he’s been reading the situation wrong all this time. The only way to find out if they have a chance at love is to risk showing Ollie every last scar. And that could take more courage than Ben owns.
Warning: Contains superhero porn comics and a pint-sized, accident-prone delivery guy with colour-changing hair. Readers may experience coffee cravings, an unexpected liking for bad mullets, and the urge to wrap Ollie up and take him home.
Handle with Care is a charming and mostly easy flowing romance in which the two main characters act exactly as you would expect them to behave, staying true to character throughout the story. And yes, that’s a compliment.
I can’t begin to explain what a refreshing delight it was to read a book in which the younger protagonist (Ollie) who is only twenty and has recently escaped an abusive relationship with an older man, is portrayed as insecure, scared, and prone to running away when things get too much. I can just about remember being that age, and I know that at the time it was often easier to turn my back on a situation or person than to try and put all my thoughts and feelings into words.
Ben made just as much sense as a character. Of course he was grumpy; he was first desperately sick and later recuperating after a massive operation. Those things tend to make a person think dark thoughts and withdraw. Of course he felt guilty about the things he’d done in his past, and of course he had a hard time believing someone as young and full of life as Ollie could really be interested in him.
The beauty in this story lies in the fact that despite all these issues, Ollie and Ben manage to find a convincing way towards each other. It’s not a journey without roadblocks or hiccups, but neither man is ever able or willing to give up on the other.
The secondary characters made as much sense to me. These were all real people in this story. The sort of people who could be your neighbour (preferably without the gnomes, thank you very much). They’re nothing special and that makes them all the more wonderful. If there’s one thing Josephine Myles does very well it is creating and presenting believable, fallible, quirky, and charming characters who invariably find their way into my heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed Handle with Care, and not only because the author handled her characters with great care. The writing is smooth and flows effortlessly, the world in which the story takes place is vibrant and the story intriguing. Really, there isn’t a whole lot more you can ask for in a story.
If you head over to my release blitz post today or tomorrow you can still enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a backlist e-book by Josephine Myles.