Review: Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Old kitchen table rural cottage morningWhen Stuart Collins’s partner Mark died in a car crash the previous year, he thought his life had ended too.  But life has a funny way of letting you recover and heal, while showing you the path to your future.  Stuart’s mother died five years ago, a wonderful woman whose loss was deeply mourned by husband and son.  Now a new woman, Isabel Franklin, has come into Stuart’s father life, the only one since his mother passed away.

When a still grieving Stuart was called in by his father to meet the new woman his dad has been dating, Stuart finds himself liking her as well.  It turns out she has a gay son Stuart’s age who has just returned from assignment in the States.  So Stuart was not totally surprised to get a call from Paul Franklin who wants to vet the man (and the man’s son) who has turned his mother’s head.

Paul Franklin considers himself taken.  His lover, Ben, has remained back in the States but Ben is curiously unavailable when Paul has tried to contact him.  Unsettled by his lover’s absence and silence, Paul, is startled to find himself attracted to the sad, gentle man who agrees to meet him to discuss their parents.  Paul’s not the only one shocked by their mutual attraction.  Stuart feels like he is betraying Mark’s memory by the emotions meeting Paul has engendered.

Two men tied by their parents relationship , guilt and uncertainty.  Can they move forward together?  Can they trust the emotions each makes the other feel?  When life offers a second chance at love, will they take it or let it pass by?

Second Helpings is a gentle tale of loss and love by Charlie Cochrane, a favorite m/m historical author of mine.  A contemporary tale, Second Helpings, charts the pain of losing your partner and relationship and the struggle to move forward when you have a chance to live and love once more.  Both main characters have a similar love situations and family histories but with an important difference.   Stuart Collins lost his loving partner in a car crash and his adored mother to cancer.  His home life and coming out were supportive and without drama.  The loss of Mark as well as his Mother have cut into him deeply.  Paul’s romance is on hold, a loss of immediacy and of contact.  His lover, Ben, has remained behind in the US and has been out of contact with Paul, not answering emails, phone messages and what have you.  Paul lost his father years prior but without the same sense of loss as his family situation and upbringing were vastly difference from Stuart’s.  That variance in family life has left both men with strikingly different viewpoints about relationships and partners.

I love Charlie Cochrane’s ability to bring forth portraits of real human beings under stressful conditions.  There is no explosive drama to be found here other than that of two men floundering about in their personal lives, each stymied by emotional blockades and miscommunications.  Oh and pride as well.  Cochrane has Stuart and Paul making such tentative steps forward, then one huge tumultuous one that shakes everyone up.  What is so lovely and recognizable about this story and Cochrane’s writing is that all the missed steps and romantic blinders these men have put on seem familiar and true.  And when they make a hash of it in the bargain, whether it be arguments or self delusional shielding, we get that too.  We might not like it, but we certainly can understand  the all too real authenticity of the snaps and cracks at each other.

There are certainly moments here that let you know this is a British author and story.  I had to look up what a secondment actually meant (it’s a transfer).  There is the usual biscuit for cookies and the utterly charming way the British put their phones on Discreet instead of the American blunt term of Mute.  Those touches makes me smile and appreciate our differences as well as our  similarities.

What might throw you off the story?  The oddly formal narrative at the beginning of the story.  It almost feels as though it came from another author and  book as the language and flow is dramatically different from the main body of the story.   Move past that and you are into the narrative and able to enjoy a lovely beginning to a romance between two men in desperate need of a new future for them both.  There is no case of “instant love” thankfully.  That would be a disservice to the emotional back history Cochrane has given to both men.    What the author delivers feels as painful and down to earth as life makes it. She gives them hope and a chance at love and families that adore them in a story that makes for a terrific read.  Who could want for more?

Cover artist:  Amber Shah.  I like the cover.  The blue tone is certainly in keeping with the storyline and characters.

Buy Links:             Riptide Publishing               All Romance eBooks (ARe)            Amazon Second Helpings

Book Details:

ebook, 140 pages
Published July 21st 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491526
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/second-helpings

On Tour Today: Get Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane (contest)

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SecondHelpings_TourBanner(1)

Look who’s stopping by today at ScatteredThoughts!  If you hear a tinkling of the tea cup, that’s a hint because Charlie Cochrane, one of my favorite authors (see my reviews for The Cambridge Fellows Mysteries), is hear to talk about her latest release Second Helpings.  Charlie has also brought along a giveaway for you all.

Contest:

There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excluding Second Helpings), and a mix of summer seaside goodies! AND you can also enter at Rafflecopter.  That gets you entered too.  Or do both for a double entry!  Go wild!  But you still must be 18 years of age or older to enter!  Good luck to all.

Now here’s Charlie Cochrane on Second Helpings and Soundtracks:

 

I’m thrilled skinny to be dropping in here as part of the Second Helpings blog tour. A million thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me as a guest.

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A Soundtrack to Second Helpings

I’ve often seen blog posts about stories that focus on music. What the author listened to when writing the book, or what inspired them to write it in the first place, what songs the characters like or key music for key plot points.

I’ve not done one of these before, not least because I rarely think of a story in terms of songs and if I wrote a “what I listened to as I wrote this” list it would be something uninteresting, like:

Saracens vs London Irish, rugby
Leicestershire vs Hampshire, cricket
Round the Horne
Busman’s Honeymoon, with Lord Peter Wimsey.

Second Helpings is an exception, though. I have a song I associate with Stuart and what he’s feeling about his partner Mark, who died in a traffic accident a year before this story starts. That song is “I Find Your Love” by Beth Nielsen Chapman, and it’s a stunning portrayal of grief, remembrance and the loss of a loved one. Stuart hasn’t moved, yet, to the point where he finds much comfort in the memories of Mark, but he certainly gets reminded of the man in many things, even in something as simple as the burgeoning fruit on the plum tree in the garden.

Is there a song for Paul? Maybe Eric Clapton’s “Who do you love?” although Paul isn’t certain there is another man in his (maybe ex) partner Ben’s life. What I really need is a mash-up of songs like “Private Number”, “Call me” and “Busy Line”, or something like ELO’s lovely “Telephone Line” or Elvis’s “Return to Sender” revamped for the digital age.

I seem to be on a roll now. Maybe I should do this for more of my guys?

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Old kitchen table rural cottage morningAbout Second Helpings:
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?

Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.

***
Author Bio:  As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To contact/follow Charlie Cochrane, you can do any of the following:

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About Second Helpings
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.
***

SecondHelpings_150x300Book Details:

Author: Charlie Cochrane
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-152-6
eBook release: Jul 21, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Word count: 36,800
Page count: 146
Type: Standalone
Cover by: Amber Shah
– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/second-helpings#sthash.ILe0FYqM.dpuf
For all the Second Helpings Tour Stops, visit Riptide Publishing.

 

 

 

Giveaway:
There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist (excluding Second Helpings), and a mix of summer seaside goodies! AND you can also use the link below and enter twice!
Enter the Rafflecopter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YThmY2QyMTMwZGEwMGQ2MzU3MWZhNDI0MjFlOTM1OjE0 Rafflecopter Link
Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.