On the surface, Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple. He’s happy doing up campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. But life gets more complicated when a smooth-talking, handsome property developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet—the very same man Dare had to escort from a party nine months ago for causing a drunken scene.
Grant Matravers is living a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, soon-to-be-divorced gay man while staying in the closet during the week. The strain of keeping up appearances at work while missing his kids is bad enough, but add in an attraction to the shaven-headed, tattooed, totally unsuitable Dare and Grant finds his emotional barriers wearing dangerously thin.
Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges towards a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a mess of complications that could destroy any chance for their happily ever after.
Product Warnings: Contains one sharp-suited man desperately in need of redemption, another whose thuggish exterior does a pretty good job of hiding his heart of gold, frotting in camper vans, a sensual head-shaving scene and several (noisy) guest appearances from Mas.
Of the three stories, Junk, Stuff, and Scrap of The Bristol Collection, I have to admit Scrap is teetering on my favorite here, primarily due to the character of Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson. The reader first meets Dare in Stuff when he visits his favorite antique shop Cabbages and Kinks owned by Perry and run by Mas, the couple from that story. Dare pops up throughout the novel, most importantly at the end where he meets and throws a drunken Grant out of Perry and Mas’ party.
Scrap, the title of the story, seems to come from the yard filled full of scrap metal that Dare uses to refurbish his vans. Campers to us Americans. Old VW’s and such, retrofitted with sparkling new counters and curtains, engines and more, ready to take on a new life and new family. Its a job and life Dare loves, living on the land his family owned, working with his hands using skills his father taught him. That Dare looked like a “tattooed, skin-headed thug” on the outside? Well, never hurts when you’re gay and someone thinks you’re deserving of a beating. Dare Nelson is that character that once you start peeling back the layers, you just love him more and more. What’s one man’s scrap is another one’s treasure and while Dare may appear to be a human sort of scrap, he shines more than most.
Grant Matravers, well, he was the character that was going to be so hard to like here. Grant was the reverse Dare in a way. Shiny on the outside but hollow in the inside where it counts. He was ugly, a downright cheating mess of a man in Stuff. I really couldn’t understand how Myles was going to make him someone we would not only connect with but root for but redeem him she did. Grant has so many things to work through, apologies to make, decisions to come to, hard choices to make. While Dare knows who he is and has a solid foundation, Grant is only solid to the eyes but his core? Needs rebuilding and each moment is pivotal for his character and those he loves. This also includes his children and his ex-wife.
Josephine Myles always gets me with her well-rounded characters. They have depth and a humanity that defines them beyond the normal quirkiness and flaws. You fear for them, you love and take them to heart just as I did here and all the other stories.
The Bristol Collection is a total joy to read. Each and every couple with their issues and romances to work through before they can get their HEA is a story that will stay with you. Scrap has me smiling even now as I remember why I wanted more at the end even as I thought is was great as it was. Sigh.
Published March 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
ISBN 1619224925 (ISBN13: 9781619224926)
SeriesThe Bristol Collection #3