Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
Tate Robinson is the owner of a salon who is unapologetic about who he is and what he likes. Mostly, anyway. He’s a successful business owner who has won competitions for his hair design but feels less than when he visits his family. But he’s an awesome boss and a kind person. So when a man walks into the salon at closing time with a young girl in a football uniform desperately needing help with her helmet head braids because tomorrow is picture day he is really unable to turn them down. That’s how he meets Reece and his daughter, LJ. When he finally, finally gets home after an incredibly long busy day at work all he wants to do is lay on the couch and veg. Unfortunately, a new neighbor upstairs is causing a ruckus moving furniture and Tate can’t stand it. He runs upstairs, pounds on the door only to find…LJ. His new neighbors are Reece and LJ. Uh oh.
What ends up happening is Reece needs help with the hair department and is willing to trade cooking for Tate. It’s a win-win situation. He works a lot and he cares for his clients – he is also very honest with them when they ask. “He held a strict policy that he never commented on his clients’ lives, never passed judgement to their faces anyway, or gave them unsolicited advice. Now, solicited advice he had no problem doling out in spades.” And it’s good advice. Sometimes I wanted someone to give him some advice about his family, especially when the closeness of Reece and LJ get him sad. “That closeness jogged long ago memories from when he was a kid, before his own father stopped talking to him…”
Reece can understand family issues because even though his mama talks to him and helps with LJ, she is a nonstop criticizer who is just waiting for Reece to fail. “But he wondered why his mama had not gotten that gene that other parents had – the one where they believed in their kids, even when their kids didn’t believe in themselves.” What her actions do is lead him to believe that he isn’t good enough, as a man, as a parent, as a son. He and LJ have gone through a lot, particularly because of LJ’s mom, Jenna, and he’s handled it so well but he can only see the negative. He’s bisexual, a fact that Jenna threw in her parent’s faces as an act of rebellion and now they make comments to LJ about it.
Doing LJ’s hair and sharing meals ends up leading to them being friends and then more. But it isn’t easy for either of them. Tate is waiting for Reece to leave him and Reece is sure he will mess it all up. Reece is so supportive of Tate while he deals with family , getting bothered because Tate gives up the heels, the makeup, the colorful clothes for dull when he visits his family. Reece lets his daughter be who she is – football and princesses? Of course! He thinks Tate should have that too.
So the story is focused on Tate and Reece (and LJ) for the majority until Jenna throws them a curveball, one that Reece doesn’t handle in the best way. I felt so awful for Tate and for Reece, even though I felt he was to blame for it. It gives him the courage to finally stand up to his mother but at what price? Everything isn’t totally on Reece, it’s a two way street, but it was heartbreaking.
This is where the story lost some for me, because we started getting a couple of time hops that were aggravating. “He just hoped Tate would be open to hearing him when Reece was ready to talk.” The next chapter is “A month later”. I thought WHAT? At least Tate had an ally in his brother’s new girlfriend, Keilani, and it is her that makes Tate able to stand up to his father.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and I was pulling for everything to work out with these guys. The writing was fine – no over the top dialogue or awkwardness I had to figure out. Okay, I have to admit there were phrases here that made me cringe. I’m sure it’s just a personal preference but I can’t stand to read things like “…fully exposed, grasping empty hole” or “…red, wet grasping orifice…” Just ugh. But those were few. I felt the connection between Tate and Reece and that was important.
The cover art by Resplendent Media is a grayscale photo of two men, Reece and Tate. It’s a little sedate, although very fitting for the book, so I wish there had been a glimpse of Tate’s sparkle and shine because that’s what made him Tate.
I do have to take a second to address the dedication of this book. Dedicated to the uncle of the author, it was so bittersweet that it made me want to cry. We don’t know the story of the uncle but the sadness comes through.
Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Expected publication: July 24th 2018
Edition Language English