Never A Hero (Tucker Springs #5) by Marie Sexton

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Release Date is May 13, 2013 from Riptide Publishing.  Review reposted on May 14, 2013.

Rating: 4.5 star

Never A Hero coverOwen Meade watches from his window as the duplex next to him exchanges one renter for another looking at the men he sees carrying boxes and moving furniture.  Two are clearly a couple and the others are astonishing in their diverse physiology and tattoos.  And Owen wonders who they are and what they do, knowing the chances of finding out are slim as he never leaves his house.  Owen stutters, and years of  verbal abuse from his mother over his sexuality as well as his congenitally amputated arm have left him so traumatized socially that he confines himself to his rooms in his side of the duplex, rarely venturing out unless absolutely necessary.  Owen works at home and has his groceries delivered, making his hermit like lifestyle possible until his new neighbor changes everything.

Veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves into the downstairs duplex with his three dogs and immediately goes to meet his new neighbor. Friendly, outgoing and unflappable, Nick lets Owen know immediately that his arm doesn’t bother him as his sister has a congenitally amputated arm too. Introductions soon turn into friendship with Nick and his sister who pulls Owen into piano lessons for the both of them.  And always Owen senses that Nick is attracted to him, an attraction that Owen returns.  In fact, Owen thinks he just might be falling in love with Nick, but every time they get close physically, it is Nick who pulls away leaving Owen confused and hurt.

Nick is hiding a secret of his own and Owen must become his own hero, thwart his mother and Nick’s own fears, to save the day and his future with the man he has come to love.

What a lovely book!  Marie Sexton has provided us with many wonderful characters before but Nick Reynolds and Owen Meade are at the top of the crowd.  Owen has had a life time of parental abuse from his mother that has resulted in a stutter, lack of self confidence and a painful shyness about his truncated arm.  I have never met a character quite like Owen before . Marie Sexton has done a great job in bringing this man totally to life so that we get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be a person with disabilities, their apprehensions and difficulties in doing small things for themselves that others accomplish with ease.  The title comes from the fact that his mother refused to let him wear super hero costumes on Halloween because of his disability. And the author brings home to the reader the pain and unrelenting stress his mother’s abuse that Owen suffered from as a child and into adulthood. Owen’s endearing, easy to empathize with, and you feel angry on his behalf when his mother reenters the picture.

Nick Reynolds was also a surprise.  I never guessed at his secret and found myself as confounded as Owen was.  Here again, the author moves forward with knowledge and sensibility to defuse a delicate situation and handle this serious topic with needed sensitivity.  Plus Nick is a veterinarian, a favorite vocation of mine.  Gorgeous, caring, you just know he is the perfect match for Owen. He has his own flaws and is easy to relate to.  I loved him as well.

Another thing I have come to count on in a Marie Sexton story is the beautiful flow of her narrative.  Never dense, never jerky, the story moves forward so smoothly, so effortlessly that the chapters transition one into another without bringing the reader up short once.  She makes it look so easy that you forget how difficult it is to achieve.

As this is a Tucker Springs, Colorado book, other characters from previous stories make appearances to my total delight.  Really, I can’t get enough of this series, I hope you feel the same when you get started.   Never A Hero contains everything you need for a fabulous story, so don’t be surprised when you find yourself still awake at 2 am because you just can’t put this book down.  I wanted to don my Superman duds and head out to the Light district to find Nick and Owen, Seth, El and all the rest.  By now they feel like close friends.  So grab a few tissues, this book and curl up in anticipation as you start in on Never A Hero.  You don’t have to have read the other books in the group but it helps to identify the various characters who pop up in this story.

Tucker Springs Website

Here are the books in the order they were written:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Marie Sexton

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt

Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton

Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (A Tucker Springs novel) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Covet Thy Neighbor coverTattoo artist Seth Wheeler watches as his new neighbor, Darren Romero, moves in across the hall from his apartment.  Darren hits all Seth’s buttons, he is cute, smart, flirty, with a great sense of humor.  Plus Darren seems to like what he sees when he looks at Seth, so things are looking great.  Until Seth asks Darren what he does for a living and all Seth’s expectations of a flirtatious romance or even a hot one night stand fly out the window.

Darren Romero came to Tucker Springs to take a position as youth minister at the New Light church in town and that is a very real problem for Seth. Seth is a committed atheist and has been since his church and his family threw him out when he told them he was gay.  Now Seth avoids even the mention of church and anyone who believes in religion, even someone as hot and engaging as Darren.

Being neighbors makes it hard for Seth to avoid the minister and Darren refuses to give up on their friendship and possible relationship even as Seth fights the growing attraction between them.  Seth knows that Darren is perfect for him in every way but one.  Can Seth finally make his peace with the past and the part the church played in his abandonment or will Seth let the man he has come to love slip away because of his faith?

I have loved each and every Tucker Spring novel that has been released and Covet Thy Neighbor is a great addition to the series.  L.A. Witt presents us with two beautifully developed characters and adds the unusual element of religion to the mix.  Seth Wheeler is a character introduced in previous stories.  He has hovered around the other couples as a best friend and tattooist in Tucker Springs but we never learned his story until now.

Seth came from an ultra religious family and conservative church. So when he came out, their reactions cost him his family and faith as he was thrown out of his house and permanently disowned.  In describing his past,  Witt gives us a very real feel for the deep pain and feelings of abandonment that Seth feels even now years later.  The author shows that the loss of family is a wound that never fully heals, and for Seth meeting Darren is like tearing off a scab on his soul.  Seth wants to protect himself and for him that means distance.  Distance from Darren and distance from the religion that hurt him so deeply.

Darren is his opposite, a man of faith for whom his religion is felt at the cellular level.  It is not possible to separate the two. I love that L.A. Witt treats this issue with the seriousness it deserves.  So many GLBTQ people have felt abandoned by their churches and religion just as Seth does.  Equally true is that not all religions or even individual churches are discriminatory. Some are supportive of the gay community, and it is important to give those pastors and institutions a voice as well.  The author does so here with Darren Romero, and it works beautifully.

Darren Romero’s faith is one he has arrived at only after working through a series of obstacles and events that could have derailed that faith at any time.  I loved that Darren is such a well rounded religious character. He has his flaws and his moments of doubt.  And his past also contains a time where his openess came with a cost. Darren is up front about his sexuality, he is smart, compassionate, and “smokin’ hot”, at ease behind the pulpit as he is in the bedroom.  And the arguments and discussions he has with Seth are thought provoking and ones that could be heard in towns across America.

Another element of this story that grabbed me was the GLBTQ youth that Darren worded with and provided shelter for.  The scene with Seth and the trans girl rings true. It’s also heartbreaking because you just know how many children out there this girl represents.  This novel is just what I have come to expect from L.A. Witt and the Tucker Springs series.  A great plot,  interesting, fully realized characters and a narrative that moves the plot along at a lively pace.   I was astonished at how quickly I finished the story, to my utter dismay.  At the end, I wanted more of Seth and Darren, and the kids, and well, more of Tucker Springs.

As I stated before, I can’t get enough of this series, and each new story just cements it place as one of the best continuing series out there.  I can’t wait to see what these amazing authors will come up with next.

I love this cover.  Much like the other covers of this series, it works on all levels, from the models to the background.  Just great.

Tucker Springs Website

Here are the books in the order they were written:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Marie Sexton

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt

Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton