Review: One True Thing by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea

Standard

Rating: 4 stars

Dusty Davis has moved to California with his best friends Ru and Erik and their  daughter Alice.  West Hollywood so far is everything Dusty hoped it would be.  He can walk down the street and not draw stares for his clothes or nail polish and their new house is adorable, a great change in every way from Delaware.  There is only one thing missing…..a boyfriend.  When he watches Ru and Erik cuddle and interact, it only highlights how lonely he really is. But a trip on the sidewalk has Dusty falling  into the arms of a gorgeous man, who picks him up, smiles and disappears into the crowd.   So Dusty starts to look for him everywhere and when he finds him, Dusty is confused because the man, Archer Kyriakides doesn’t remember him.  But that doesn’t stop Dusty from going out with him.  But its not the same as Dusty hoped as the man is cold, and completely shallow.  Then Dusty meets Asher Kyriakides who is Archer’s twin brother and the mystery is solved.  It is Asher who picked Dusty up off the side walk and Asher who has occupied Dusty’s thoughts and dreams since the incident.  After Dusty realizes  his mistake, he and Asher start to date and it is everything he had hoped for in the beginning.  Except that Archer seems intent on causing problems for the new couple every way he can.

Asher Kyriakides has not been able to get the adorable blonde man out of his mind since they meet on the sidewalk.  Then he walks into the apartment he shares with his twin brother Archer and is devastated to find Archer kissing that same cute blonde.  Crushed, Asher finds his life stagnating on every level.  He is a photographer who is filming porn actors because he needs the money instead of working as a fashion photographer.  His brother is running up their bills, partying all night, and in general making Asher’s life miserable when he tries to make his brother act  responsibly.  It only starts to look up when he starts to date Dusty and even make plans for their future.  But Archer means trouble and tries to tear the two men apart.  When Archer goes too far, Asher must finally decide between his future with Dusty or his obligation to his brother.

We first met Dustin Davis in One Small Thing which gave us the story of Ru and Erik’s relationship.  Dusty had a large role to play in that story and he captured our hearts with his endearing personality and vulnerability.  I thought even then that he deserved his own story and was thrilled to see a sequel that followed our small family out to West Hollywood for a new start for all of them.  The authors certainly picked the right place to plop down our wonderful quartet of characters and it was easy to envision Dusty flip flopping his way down the Boulevard on his way to a meeting with Asher and a future.  Vaughn and O’Shea have given us a character to cherish in Dusty so it is important that his soul mate measure up to the reader’s idea of the right person for him.  And the person they chose has readers including myself blowing hot and cold, mostly because  of his brother.  The authors present us with a problematic  package when they created Asher and Archer, the twin Kyriakides brothers who represent a sort of black and white or yin and yang of siblings.

Asher, the good twin, seems to be  a lovely match for Dusty.  Except that when it comes to his evil twin, Archer, he has all the resolve of a wet noodle.  He lets his brother ride roughshod over him time after time, trampling his feelings and even his relationship with Dusty into the ground with no recompense at all from Archer.  In fact, no matter how awful Archer behaves, Asher lets him get away with it to the reader’s utter astonishment.  I can understand a twin brother’s bond being responsible for absorbing some of the impact of Archer’s actions but there is no answering bond from Archer, it is completely one sided.  So on one front, Asher loves Dusty and they appear perfect for each other, than the other passive doormat side of Asher comes out and threatens everything they have built up to date.  I won’t go into details here but trust me when I say both Archer’s actions and Asher’s response are so unbelievable that it almost derailed the entire story for me.  The only thing that pulled the plot back onto the tracks was Dusty’s reaction and the manner in which he forced Asher to handle the situation.  Yes, Dusty is the saving grace, not only in this incidence, but for the entire book.

Archer remained pretty much a one dimensional evil villain of the piece.  I kept waiting for some explanation for his hatred of his brother, some bit of back story that would explain his illicit drug use, casual sex, and complete disregard for his brother’s feelings but it never came.  In fact, Archer was the major disruption for this story.  Had he been removed, the one element of Asher’s character that was not only unbelievable but distasteful as well would have been removed too.

Dusty remains one of my favorite characters.  He is irrepressibly positive in his outlook, his buoyant good nature, his huge heart and personality make me smile just thinking about him.  The authors have painted such a vivid portrait of Dusty that he leaps laughing and giggling right off the page and into our hearts. Dusty is so gentle and kind (and talented) that you not only want him to be your hairstylist but your friend as well.  Dusty is both the heart of this story and it’s saving grace.  It doesn’t matter whether he is feeding Alice or having a heart to heart with Michelle, who Dusty is and what he stands for is never in doubt.  Give us more Dusty and I am a happy camper.  He is a perfect creation and the real reason to buy this book.

Without Archer’s involvement, this is a 4.5 to 5 point story.  Take him away, and it has every thing to recommend it.  It has not only Dusty, but Ru and Erik and Alice too.  It finds Dusty happy in his new job, making new friends (love Michelle), and finally having someone to love and who loves him back for the marvelous person he is.  Another new character deserving of our attention and affection is troubled porn actor Josh.  I could have used more of him, and so much less of Archer.  I liked the ending, although for some reason it seemed for of a HFN than HEA.  And again, that speaks more to the characterization deficits of Asher and not Dusty.  Because while Dusty is still moving forward with new friendships, new apartment, an ever expanding future, Asher’s career remains that of a porn photographer, which would be fine if he enjoyed and liked it, but it’s not.  It’s one he is ashamed of and remains in.  When he goes forward, it seems that its because Dusty has pulled him there, not a formula for a healthy relationship.  So perhaps Asher too needs some time to grow into the man Dusty deserves.  I would love to see a third book in this series, one that reunites Dusty, Asher, Ru, Erik, Alice, Josh and Lane in the not too near future with a real HEA for them all.  And please if we must see or hear of Archer again, let it be at his graveside. A perfect solution if ever there was one.

Cover:  OK, how adorable is this cover.  The model, Austin Anomic (aka Austin Mitchell) is the one who visually inspired the character of Dusty. Read Piper Vaughn’s blog on Austin and his picture with the cover of this book.  Austin and the cover of One True Thing are both adorably perfect.

Books in the order they were written and should be read:

One Small Thing – read my review here.

One True Thing