A Caryn Review :Helix by Anna Martin

Standard

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

How weird would it feel to find out the new man you were dating was the father of the man your son was dating?  Alternately, how would it feel to find out that your father was hooking up with your boyfriend’s dad?

Mark was the single father of twin 18-year-old highschool seniors.  He had been devoted to raising them since his wife left when they were toddlers, and he pretty much put his own life on hold to be the best father that he could be.  His kids were peripherally aware of his bisexuality, but he pretty much limited himself to hookups in order to keep his focus on his kids.  He was also aware that his kids were adults and ready to move on with their own independent lives, and he started wondering if it was time for him to take that next step to finding a partner.  Steve was at a similar point in his life – his adopted son Dylan was 21, and although he still lived at home, he had a good job as an apprentice mechanic, and was essentially independent.  Mark and Steve hooked up at a bar, but exchanged phone numbers and started a tentative “friends with benefits but maybe we could be something more” relationship.

At the same time that Mark and Steve were getting to know each other, Dylan and James met and started dating.  Their relationship was a bit more traditional – dating and getting to know each other before they jumped into sex.  Dylan was older, definitely more mature, but despite that their relationship was surprisingly balanced.  I loved the gentle way Dylan introduced James, a virgin, to sex.  For all that he was a big, tough mechanic, there was a soft and nurturing side to Dylan, and I will admit he was my favorite character.

Mark and James, despite their close father/son relationship, did not open up easily about dating, so it was a few months before they decided to arrange a time to meet, and both couples were fairly established.  In one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” situations, they decided to have a family barbecue and let everyone meet – and it was disastrous.  The unexpected revelation shocked all four men, and they all reacted in the worst possible ways.  I think it could have been a farce, but it was actually very sensitively and realistically written, and the fallout of that meeting strained all of the relationships.  There was a definite sense of betrayal on all sides, and working past that moment was a great character study.

One of the best things about this book is that you truly could identify with either couple.  I personally preferred the romance between the sons more than that between the fathers, but I am sure other readers will pick different favorites.  It plays out more as a family drama than a romance, and the ending was a little unexpected, but ultimately very satisfying.  I thought about rating this book higher, but though I really enjoyed the interplay of the relationships and the overall believability of it, the tone of the entire book was a little detached, a little clinical, and it just lacked that extra spark that made me not only like the characters, but fall in love with them.  There is absolutely no melodrama here, but maybe the pendulum swung a little too far away from the intensity and fervor that make a book really memorable to me.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh missed the mark for me – I couldn’t connect this one young man to the four intertwined relationships that are perfectly summed up in the title.

Book Details:
ebook, 1st edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808904
Edition Language English

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