Friday, 28 July 2017

Runner by Parker Williams - Release Day Post

 200 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

The blurb

Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.

He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—

But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life. 

That blurb sounds fascinating, right? It hooked me the moment I first saw it. But, just in case  you need more convincing, Parker Williams has very kindly provided me with one exclusive extra scene you won’t find anywhere except here and an excerpt. Enjoy!

Extra Scene

The day I got the keys for my new place, I let the envelope that contained them sit on the table for hours. This reflected another monumental shift in my life, one that once I took that first step, I could never go back.

My teacher used to tell us about the importance of not burning bridges, because you never knew when you had to go back again. That’s what I did. I torched those suckers, because if there was one thing I knew for absolute certain, it was that I would never be back.

I’d trekked out to the new place every day while it was being built. I had to see it from the ground up, so I could become accustomed to it. When it was time for my move, there were pangs of guilt as I thought about what I was leaving behind.

Mom didn’t come to say goodbye, which was fine. After I found out how she felt about me, it was probably better that she not come. My brother stood and glared at me, but made no move to stop me. Uncertainty gnawed at my stomach, but I had to go. My life was no longer here.

As soon as I got the last of the boxes put into the house, I wanted to collapse from exhaustion. There had been quite a bit of heavy lifting involved in the move, and with no one helping, it took a lot out of me. I collapsed on the couch, sucked down two glasses of water, and then got up to set my new home up the way it needed to be.

With everything I put away, I became more certain that I was doing the right thing. Each item that was slipped into its new home brought with it a level of calmness. It took me until long into the night before I had most of the stuff put away. When I was done, relief surged through me. I’d done it. Now I was finally, blessedly alone. I sagged onto the sofa and closed my eyes, familiarizing myself with the sounds of the night. The hoot of an owl, the winds as they rustled the leaves on the trees, the gentle chirps of crickets.

Everything was as it ought to be. What I’d longed for has finally come to pass. Now I could finally be alone. It was what I wanted.



I COULDN’T find it within myself to talk to him for the first four days. I kept hoping he’d stop running by and my life would go back to normal. I should have known better. Ever since the incident, nothing went the way I expected it to. I continued to watch him, and I had to admit, the apprehension that coursed through me had eased. He didn’t really frighten me anymore, but the thought of talking to him filled me with dread. What made it worse for me? He’d continued to glance toward the house, and if he saw me, he’d give a smile or a little wave.

No, I wasn’t being honest. After a few weeks of him waving, I had actually started to weave that into my daily routine. I stood in front of the window, looking out at the road every day at ten thirty. One day it rained, and he was thirteen minutes late. I went into panic mode, hyperventilating and pacing around the house, chastising myself. How had he become a part of my world? Why did I now depend on him to be where I expected him to be? I grew angry with myself for that. Despite the pleading I’d done with Clay, I no longer wanted the man to stop running by my house now that I’d grown used to seeing him.

And worse, when he waved, I had started waving back.


The lies we tell ourselves are the most damning ones of all, because after a time we start to believe them.

This book intrigued me ever since Parker Williams first mentioned it on Facebook and shared the blurb. To say I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it would be a gross understatement. Of course there are risks involved when a new release is anticipated as much as this one was. I’m delighted and grateful that Runner not only lived up to my expectations but exceeded them.

Matt’s story is heartbreaking. The ordeal he had to go through as a sixteen year old would bring somebody twice his age to their knees and it is therefore hardly surprising that he retreats into himself, stops trusting the world and creates coping mechanisms for himself to deal with his little corner of that world. Of course the way he gets through his days is not what others would call ‘normal’ (if ever there was a word I hate), but it works for him and for more than a decade it is enough for him.

The runner, who turns out to be an author named Charlie, upsets Matt’s carefully planned routine. Until, almost imperceptibly, he becomes part of that regimen and slowly and even more carefully gets closer to Matt, drawing him out little by little.

I won’t go into the story itself beyond what I’ve said above except that what follows is beautiful and that you should really read it for yourself.

I do want to say one or two things about why this book touched me so much. Parker Williams managed to create a character who exudes both a troubled mind and enormous strength of character at the same time. It would have been so easy to turn Matt into a perpetual victim. After all, he had every reason to give up. But rather than make the reader pity Matt, he’s given us a man who lives his life on his terms. Others may not approve of how he’s living, but he’s independent, and while he may not be happy, he’s not unhappy either. He’s okay.

I’m so glad this wasn’t a ‘love fixes all’ sorta story. Yes, with Charlie’s help Matt manages to start looking outside the shell he’s created for himself and take the first steps towards interacting with the world at large again, but it isn’t an overnight miracle. It’s tiny steps forward with setbacks along the way. In fact, by the end of the book there’s still no guarantee that Matt will ever overcome all his issues. But, and that’s a message I want to be heard loud and clear, that’s okay. He’s dealing with his issues, aware of them and getting ever better at living both with and despite them. Because that’s how it is in real life. We don’t miraculously overcome whatever is wrong with us; we deal, we make the best of what we have and, if we’re lucky, the situation will continue to improve. This book left me convinced that Matt’s journey had only begun and that he would move further along that road because he’s that strong and because he had that support — from his community, from his family and, most importantly from Charlie.

Charlie *sighs* Oh Charlie. Now, I have to be honest here. Charlie came very close to being too good to be true. He does have a bit of a fairytale prince aura. It is both surprising and further proof of Parker William’s skill as an author that he didn’t irritate me. He was just about human and fallible enough to keep him real. And he was so exactly what Matt needed. The way their relationship develops from strangers, through begrudging acquaintances, via friends, to lovers was beautiful. They grew into each other in what felt like an organic manner and it was a joy to see it happen. And best of all, Charlie doesn’t try to fix Matt; for Charlie, Matt is good enough just as he is. And if he wants to try and push himself further, Charlie wants Matt to do it for himself and not for Charlie.

In fact, I think the reason I fell in love with this story is because it had just the right balance of realism and fairytale — although the smooth writing, gorgeous main characters, and wonderful secondary characters, may also have had something to do with it.

Long story short: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am incredibly grateful that I could read it in one sitting. I did not want to part from Matt and Charlie until I was sure they were okay. And just in case you’re wondering; I do recommend this book!

About the Author

Parker Williams believes that true love exists, but it always comes with a price. No happily ever after can ever be had without work, sweat, and tears that come with melding lives together.

Living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his husband of a quarter century, Parker continues to believe and writes stories where there is (almost) always a happy ending.
Connect with Parker on:
Twitter: @ParkerWAuthor

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