Review: Love Comes Home (Senses #3) by Andrew Grey

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love Comes Home coverArchitect Gregory Hampton’s son, Davey, is playing in a Little League softball game and having difficulties with pitching and hitting where he had none before.  Then a stranger approaches Gregory with a startling suggestion…that Greg should take Davy to an eye doctor for an examination. The diagnosis is frightening. Davey has a genetic occular disease that has just kicked in with the result that Davey’s sight is degenerating rapidly, and eventually he’ll go blind.  Suddenly life is all about helping Davey adjust to his impending loss of eyesight and a romance with the handsome businessman he just met has to be relegated to the background.  Or does it?

Wealthy businessman Tom Spangler had no sooner met architect Gregory Hampton and arranged to go on a date when a call arrives to disrupt their evening.  Sometime during the evening, Greg’s son Davey had completely lost his sight and a traumatized son is in need of his father.  After ferrying them both home, Tom waits to hear from Greg.  And while he waits, Tom researches how to help Greg and his son, Davey even though he is not even sure the man and his son will accept his help.

One of the things that Tom has researched is beep baseball. Here balls and bases make sounds to enable the visually impaired to participate in Little League. When Tom spearheads an effort to form a team so Davey can continue to play the game he loves, it draws Tom and Greg closer and brings Davey back to the game he thought he would never play again.  But Greg’s ex wife has returned with a plan in mind for Davey that will reject everything that Greg, Tom and Davey have worked so hard to accomplish.  With a threat to Davey’s happiness at stake, what will Tom and Greg do to ensure his safety and future?

Love Comes Home is the third story in the Senses series and it is a lovely one.  The previous story focused on Howard who is blind and his lover, Gordy, both of whom are a strong presence here in Love Comes Home as part of the village of people who help Davey accept his blindness and move forward.  Once again, Andrew Grey’s story is centered on someone who is blind but in this case it is a young boy who turns blind almost overnight due to a genetic ocular disease no one knew he had until puberty sets it off.  Up until then Davey is a highly athletic, normal boy being raised by a single dad, Greg Hampton.

Andrew Grey’s characters comes across as totally believable human beings, albeit  sometimes a little too nice given some of the circumstances they find themselves in.  Gregory Hampton is high on my list of favorite characters here as a  single dad who puts his son first, including his own wants and needs.  His reactions when informed of his son’s diagnosis seems so authentic as he reels between denial and acceptance, not for himself at first but for Davey.  Then later, Grey shows Greg’s own grief set in and its both wrenching and  raw.  Davey too feels all too authentic as a young boy who thinks his life is over until he is shown how to move forward with his disability by a close knit circle of friends.  Tom, however, is a little more too, too everything.  Too wealthy, too handsome, too great a boyfriend and potential stepfather to Davey.  I just wish he had a tad more flaws to make him less a knight in shining armor and more a lonely man looking for love who finds a family as well.  A flawed human being for me is always the more interesting and absorbing person to read about.  Tom seems almost too perfect to be read and that lessens the romance for me as well.

Andrew Grey has indicated that he has done a mountain of research towards this book and it shows.  From the classes that Davey is immersed in to teach himself how to read and write Braille or to simply function in every day life, the author moves his characters through the necessary steps towards Davey’s independence and acceptance at exactly the right pace for a family still trying to deal with Davey’s disease and altered lifestyle.  It’s a wonderful journey and it culminates in Davey’s introduction to Beep Ball and the formation of a team of children like Davey in that they are sight impaired.

Ah, Beep Ball.  What a splendid sport. And through Grey’s descriptions we are able to visualize how Davey and the other kids step forward with enthusiasm for some and trepidation for others to have fun, be a part of a group and play a sport that was thought impossible to participate in for some kids and parents. We get the laughter, the dropped balls and the tears that flow as parents realize just what it is that they are seeing.  Be prepared for a sniffle or two yourself.  This really made the story for me.

Romance is well represented here.  There is the slowly evolving love between Greg and Tom, marked only by the hiccup arrival of Greg’s ex wife.  That part of the story seemed odd and less realized.  Absent for 2 years, she appears with demands about her son’s future.  It never comes across as though that is her true reason for her appearance.  The reader will keep wondering when “the other shoe” will drop and her hidden agenda will be revealed.  But that aspect is dropped and the resolution between all the parties comes off as a little contrived.  This is probably my biggest issue with this story.

But that element aside, I loved this story.  Davey and his journey towards acceptance of his blindness, the manner in which Howard and Gordy helped Greg through the challenges they all faced, the realistic and heartwarming manner in which  I felt I knew this group of friends by the end of the story….those are all terrific reasons to buy this book.  The romance too will keep you smiling as well as the picture of a new family formed by love at the end.  So charming, so heartfelt, and imminently enjoyable too.

Cover design is both lovely and relevant.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published March 7th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 6th 2014)
ISBN 1627986626 (ISBN13: 9781627986625)
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesSenses #3

Books in the Senses series include:

Love Comes Silently (Senses, #1)
Love Comes in Darkness (Senses, #2) (Howard and Gordy)
Love Comes Home (Senses, #3)

Review: Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey

Standard

Rating:  5 stars

When artist Ken Brighton moved himself, boyfriend, and adopted daughter, Hanna to Pleasanton, Michigan, it was because Ken thought the rural environment and schools would be a wonderful place to raise Hanna and he could paint with inspiration all around him.  Instead, Hanna is diagnosed with pediatric leukemia and all his time, energy, and attention is focused on his daughter to his boyfriend’s dismay.  One day, his boyfriend Mark announces that their relationship is over, Mark is sorry about the timing but he needs more than Ken is willing or able to give.  Now Ken is left totally alone, raising Hanna by himself,hoping that she will be able to beat the cancer and feeling so despondent that he has stopped painting.  Then mysterious care packages for Hanna start to arrive on his doorstep, bringing joy for his daughter and hope back into their lives. If only he knew who was responsible.

Former singer Patrick Flaherty knows something about pain, and the loss of hope.  He was once a famous singer but an accident changed all that and plunged him into a world where he would never speak or sing again.  Devastated Patrick retreats into silence and the small house he bought from his mother.  Then he notices his new neighbors and watches the changes that occur next door as the months go by.  When he realizes that the young girl  whose father dotes on is critically ill, something changes inside him.  He slowly reaches out to Ken and offers a small measure of assistance when Ken needs it.  The closer he becomes to Ken and Hanna, the dreams he once had of love and family start to come alive once more.  Ken’s goodness is only matched by his attractiveness and Hanna is a joy in every way.  It hurts to watch her illness progress and as Patrick tries to make life easier for his neighbors, his involvement in their lives sparks him to life once more.

Ken knows he is foundering, just the thought that he might lose Hanna to this disease is killing him.  The only bright spot in their lives is their silent neighbor, Patrick.  Always there offering help, shoring Ken up when he needs it the most, his silent presence sometimes all Ken needs to keep from breaking apart all together.  Slowly a relationship starts to form between Ken and Patrick.  When Mark wants to come back into Ken’s life, will Patrick find a way to communicate his love to Ken?  And does Ken have anything left over to give and is it Patrick he wants to spend his life with?

Andrew Grey had me from the very first scene as Ken races with fevered Hanna to the hospital and gets a silent assist from an unknown man who turns out to be Patrick.  A father’s fear over his daughter’s illness and the terrifying race to the hospital over snowy roads to the Marquette hospital leaps from the pages and into our hearts.  From that moment on, our sympathies are engaged in this small family.  Ken’s heartbreak on hearing Hanna’s  diagnosis is our heartbreak, his tears are ours as he sits alone in the hospital. This is every parents worst nightmare come to life.  We cry along with him every horrifying step of the way.  From diagnosis to each treatment young Hanna has to endure, the loss of her hair, and the pain and exhaustion that is part of the tole cancer is taking on her body.  Andrew Grey gives us an accurate portrayal of a child with cancer without yielding to the temptation of saccharine, overly dramatic scenes that a child in distress could bring to the story.  Instead, Grey gives us a realistic depiction of a father dealing with his daughter’s critical illness.  Ken’s total focus is on Hanna, as it should be.  He can’t paint, household chores are forgotten, along with his own meals.  Only Hanna and cancer exist for him. And we get that, absolutely.

Grey’s characters felt so real, became so compelling that I forgot at times they weren’t alive.  And while our attention is drawn first to Ken and Hanna, who I adored, Patrick slowly turns our gaze on him.  Wrapped in silence, Patrick has retreated in every way from life.  He has taken up wood working as a career, perfect as it allows him to continue to live in isolation.  But his silent life is broken into shards when Ken and Hanna move into the neighborhood.  Hidden in his house, Patrick watches all three move in and then Marc move out.  He helped the first night that Ken took Hanna to the hospital and watched as the joyful little girl turned weak and her beautiful hair falls out. And he determines to do something, anything to help them, and in doing so, helps himself to live once more.  Beautiful, just beautiful.  How I loved watching Patrick emerge from his self imposed isolation through his kindness to Hanna and then face his growing attraction to Ken.  Andrew Grey does a great job of contrasting Patrick’s stumbling journey back to life with the ups and downs that Hanna is subjected to during the treatments for cancer.  We are afraid to rejoice too much for each character, fearing that one or both would stall in their progress to health and life.

No quibbles here.  I think that Love Comes Silently might be one of my all time favorite Andrew Grey books, and that is saying a lot when you look at the bounty of books he has produced.  If you are a parent like I am, this will hit you doubly hard.  And then the joy at the end is also increased two fold.  If you don’t have children, you will still love this book as much as I did for the stories of lives reborn, dreams recaptured, and life promise renewed once more.  Please pick this one up and fall deep under the spell of Ken, Hanna, and Patrick.  I know you will love them as much as I do.

Cover: L.C. Chase has captured moments of this terrific story beautifully in the elements of this cover, especially the vibrant pink child’s hat.