Rating: 4 stars
Detroit handyman, Derrick Chance, has life just the way he wants it after recovering from period of excruciating loss and emotional turmoil brought on by the deaths of his grandparents and brother. Safe, unexciting, normal. some would say routine even and they would be right. Everything in its place, everything in order. and especially no unwelcome surprises lurking to throw up his hard won equanimity. It has taken Derrick 10 years to get to this point in his life where he feels balanced and safe and he doesn’t want anything to change. Just look at his home and furnishings. The house is much the same as when his grandparents had lived there, nothing updated, even the appliances. Heck, he didn’t even have texting on his phone.
Then Derrick gets a phone call from Gavin Hayes, an accountant who needs his home office outfitted with some shelves. One look at Gavin, a quick handshake and all Derrick’s comfortable and predictable life is shaken up. Derrick gave up trying to date and all personal relationships when trying to recover from the loss of his family at a young age. He just didn’t have anything left over to give so why bother? Now Derrick doesn’t know how to handle the emotions Gavin is bringing back to the surface after a long absence.
Gavin too is fighting the impulse to get to know his skittish handyman better. Gavin has just removed himself from an abusive relationship and the thought of trusting another at this time leaves him uncertain and more than a little afraid, given a secret he is hiding. It is going to take more than time and an attraction for Derrick and Gavin to decide to risk it all on a chance at love.
Inertia is the first book in the Impulse series that looks to follow the course of a relationship between two men, Derrick Chance and Gavin Hayes. The title of the book is an accurate description of the state of Derrick’s life. Derrick has remained unchanged, and happily so since the trauma of his grandparents death. Then his brother died as well leaving him so emotionally empty that he was unable to do more than react as his life changed forever. From that time on, Derrick froze himself into a lifestyle of emotional stasis that comes complete with a house full of relics from his grandparents time, a business based on fixing things from the past, and an isolation so complete that his only friends are his dog, his elderly neighbor and his friend, Devon. When a work order leads to a meeting with Gavin Hayes, their mild flirting shakes him up, to the point of Derrick reevaluating his choice of a solitary life.
Gormley does a really nice job of conveying Derrick’s uncertainty about the future and making changes to his life. From Derrick’s perspective, the future has never held anything but heartache and pain causing him to withdraw from an active social life. She paints the portrait of a man so hurt, so afraid of emotional pain that he does nothing to move himself forward for fear of being hurt once more. Derrick has also frozen his sexuality as he has been abstinent for years, remaining a virgin into his thirties. This gives his character a certain innocence that plays off nicely against the character of Gavin Hayes.
The character of Gavin Hayes has also some interesting layers to him. He is just come from an abusive relationship with a man whose ideas on HIV and AIDS are not only frighteningly self delusional but dangerous. He too is full of fear for the future and hesitant to start a new relationship. So when the men find they are attracted to each other, each advances forward with all the hesitancy and indecisiveness of ants at a tap dance rehearsal. For each uncertain foot forward, then is an almost immediate step back, sometimes several so that they find themselves back at the starting point. But instead of this being a frustrating element, Gormley makes us understand these men and their actions.
Then there is the sex. There are some very hot scenes here as Derrick discovers that his sexuality didn’t die along with his family but has just been dormant, awaiting a spark to come back to life. Gavin is more than happy to be that spark. But this is not a teacher/student relationship as Gavin’s former lover has left him with mental scars where their sex life was concerned. There is a very realistic give and take here between the men as Derrick discovers he has a slight submissive kink and Gavin explores the idea of reciprocity in sex play.
There is no real angst here although from the sound of Gavin’s former lover, it might appear in the sequel Acceleration, Impulse #2. Inertia is simply the story of the beginnings of a relationship. It may go on longer than necessary. In fact, the entire book could be tightened up with respect to editing errors and repetitive sections. This is the second edition of this story after all. All of this might be due to the fact that Inertia is a self published book that could benefit from the efforts of a good editor. That said, Gormley has done a wonderful job with her story and I look forward to the next installment in the relationship of Derrick and Gavin.
Cover: Interesting cover by Kerry. Compelling in its own way but also a little rustic in feel.