Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.
But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours.
The Sparky by Marek Moran is well-written, and both the plot and the characters feel current and believable. Where that should work in most books favor, I think it hurts The Sparky because there are a lot of readers who will just find the dynamics between Aaron and Paul deplorable, especially Paul’s choices later after he and Aaron have begun a relationship. I’m not especially fond of them myself.
If Moran had not made Aaron and Paul so real, I think, perhaps, readers reactions would not be so in keeping to ones similar they would have to people they know in the same situations. I “understood” what made Paul decide to ‘straight’ again, you get his fear and the pressures, at least the ones he encounters in the small community and inside his head. Doesn’t make you like him or his actions any better or the pain he inflicts on Aaron. No these aren’t spoilers, they are part of the blurb. Hell, the whole story is laid out in the blurb, another trend I’m not liking these days. And Aaron’s actions? That of a huge-hearted man who can’t stop caring even when he’s knows he should. Also very understandable even if you want to give him a very stern talking to. I liked Aaron. He and Sam were among my favorite characters. Sam is Paul’s daughter with way more smarts than her dad. Sometimes that happens.
For me the biggest flaw in The Sparky? The fact that we never know the ‘whats or whys’ when Paul decides to come back around. Paul comes off as too changeable and that sets off so many flags. The switch back is too sudden and without any foundation for us (or Aaron for that matter) to judge that its real, to see why Paul made this life changing decision, the whole story just loses anchor and sort of floats away on a untrustworthy cloud of happiness.
Honestly, I hovered between a 2.75 rating and a 3 stars for The Sparky, but as I said the writing is excellent as are the characters. Just because I didn’t like their actions or relationship doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have merit. You might like this couple more than myself. Let me know if you do and why.
Cover Artist: Catt Ford. This cover art is confusing, misleading even. The story has nothing to do with cowboys. More with the suburbs and a electrician. Wrong, wrong. Put it on another story.
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635334470 (ISBN13: 9781635334470)