Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
It amazes me how some authors can take a handful of words, craft them in a certain way, and produce a novel that can bring characters to life, evoke emotions, and leave a reader thinking about them for days afterward.
In this tale, geeky comic book artist Morris Proctor is perfectly happy living with his cat and his art. Give him some easily heated convenience food or pizza delivery and he’ll rarely need to leave his house. Except, of course, for the cons he attends—not as a gamer or cosplayer—but as an exhibitor where he sells his artwork and comic books, and commissions art and logo designs.
He’s surprised to realize one day that he’s never met his upstairs neighbor who is apparently never home. Either that or the guy is home for only the few hours Morris sleeps or spends at cons. But his cat ends that one day when she escapes and runs right into the handsome neighbor. As Morris later describes him, Theo Boarman is adorkable and he’s also a chef who runs his family’s restaurant, trying to keep to the spirit and ambience in which his parents founded it. He’s also got custody of his teenage brother—a situation that sadly came about when they lost both their parents a year ago.
Totally opposite in appearance as well as temperament, it’s hard to believe that the young, tall, black geek who wears kilts and lives in the world of comics, games, and cosplay could possibly ever get together with the young, short, white chef who doesn’t even know the difference between Marvel and DC Comics. Add to that their crazy schedules and the fact that neither wants to make any kind of commitment, and it seems impossible that these two could ultimately get together.
Marguerite Labbe takes the time to build the character of both men, using opportunities to fill in back stories cleverly, while giving us a view of current relationship-building. The men do not jump into bed together quickly, nor do they take their relationship lightly, and yet at the beginning, neither thinks of it as any more than friendship with sexual benefits.
That changes over time, however, as their lives become entwined and the ripples of their partnership extend out to include their friends and family members. Without even realizing it was happening, Morris and Theo have become a team and provide the unconditional love and support each need for completion.
An outstanding story with an outstanding cast of characters, I can’t wait to read the next in the series. Why not a full five stars? Well, there’s a quirky, seemingly out of place chapter from a secondary character’s POV that doesn’t go anywhere. It felt odd reading it and even odder afterward when it didn’t connect to any other chapters, though now that I’m at the end of the book I suspect it was intended to plant a seed for book two. There are better ways. This one pulled me from the story and left me with a big question mark hanging over my head so I just have to take off at least a quarter point.
All in all, however, and despite that, I absolutely very highly recommend this story. Gamers? Don’t miss it? Lovers of a slow burn romance? This is the one. Plus, tag it interracial, men with children, and hurt-comfort. This book has it all. It’s definitely also going on my Best of 2018 list.
The cover by Kanaxa is symbolic of a comic book in the background and features a photo of a young black man, with dreadlocks and eyeglasses, dressed sharply in a lightweight jacket and black pants. It’s possible the black pants are the black kilt the MC wears in the story and if so, the cover would serve as a spot-on description of Morris, the comic book artist.
ebook, 306 pages
Expected publication: May 22nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesGeek Life #1