A Caryn YA Release Day Review: Driven by MB Mulhall

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I found this book a frustrating combination of a nice spin on the hurt/comfort trope, but with frequent sections that bothered me: long boring inner monologues by the main character, Oliver, and moments of incredible stupidity that literally made me want to DNF the book several times. I persevered because I was reading it for this review, and in the end I was glad I did, but it was close! Oliver is a homeless young man who is brought out of the vicious cycle of his self-recrimination and loathing by the kindness of several people in the community. His love interest, Simon, is actually a rather small part of the group that ultimately makes Oliver believe that he can be loveable, and I thought that was pretty refreshing.

The book starts with a flash forward to a moment when it seems that Oliver is dying. He is thinking of all the people he will miss, and the story truly commences at the time when he first meets the main secondary characters in the book. Two kind old ladies offer him a place in their home on a provisional basis, with the expectation that he help them out around the house. In addition to food and shelter, they offer him respect and kindness, which he has a hard time accepting as he has come to think of himself as the worst kind of criminal. There are hints about an accident, and incarceration, though the details are not revealed (and then only sketchily so) until later in the book. Simon is the boy next door who also befriends the skittish Oliver and encourages him to stay and give the old ladies, and himself, a chance. In the end, of course, Oliver learns to believe in himself and have faith in others, and has a promising future – and that’s not really a spoiler, just the expected resolution of a hurt/comfort romance.

The tragic events in Oliver’s past life were only somewhat vaguely explained, and I didn’t truly follow the path from accident to jail to homelessness. It was all fueled by Oliver’s self-hate, but those endless monologues just made me think he was whiny rather than feeling compassionate for his suffering. He also several times got into situations that he responded to with “too stupid to live” actions that just made no sense, when he was otherwise supposed to be a pretty smart guy. Those seemed like gratuitous drama and angst to me, and completely turned me off. I think different writing could have made me believe that Oliver’s self-hate was justified, but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get what his art had to do with anything, it really felt superfluous to his personality and to the story. I never understood what kind of hold Marcus had (the bad guy) had over him. The book was also fairly long for the plot and action that occurred, which I blame on those long monologues, and that made the pace of the book slow, and I found myself putting it down frequently to pursue something more exciting – like doing laundry.

I guess, in the end, the blurb was everything I wanted the story to be, but the execution was kind of a swing and a miss for me.

Cover art by Anna Sikorska was very appropriate for the story, and the empty section of highway was good for the initial somber tone of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1635332796 (ISBN13: 9781635332797)
Edition LanguageEnglish

On Tour with Will Parkinson and Wet Paint!

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Will Parkinson is here with his sequel to Pitch, the YA release Wet Paint.  I had some questions for Will and he nicely agreed to spend time in my author spotlight!  He also brought along a contest for all of you to enter and a poignant video trailer for you to watch.  Don’t miss out on any of it.  Now on to our interview…

 

STRW:  What made you want to tell this type of story?

Will Parkinson: Oddly enough, a dream. It was so vivid for me. I saw Taylor and Benny talking about Jackson and how Taylor had a crush on him throughout high school, and now Jackson – star pitcher and student – was now in danger of failing if he didn’t get help on an art project. Benny knew Taylor had feelings for Jackson and told Taylor that helping his old classmate might help him, too. So Taylor went to see Jackson. The thing was, Jackson wasn’t failing. It was a setup by Benny and Jackson to get the he and Taylor together.

The thing was, the story was a college story with sex. Which leads into question two.

STRW:    Why YA?

Will Parkinson: Growing up, there weren’t any YA books. Heck, there were hardly any adult books I could get my hands on. It’s hard not knowing why you are the way you are, and how it seems that everyone around you isn’t. A friend who read the story that I feverishly wrote down at two in the morning, read it and said I should make a story from it. A good friend of mine, Eden Winters, told me I had a young adult ‘voice’ and that I should try to write something. So I thought about Taylor and Jackson and decided that I could send them to high school, and Benny would, naturally, be there, too. The story took on a life of its own from that point.

STRW:  Wet Paint is a sequel to Pitch, your first YA story.  Why continue? what was it about those characters and their story that called out  to you?

Will Parkinson:  It was Addy and Benny. People who beta read the stories for me asked if I was going to give either of them a HEA. Honestly, I had no intention. Benny was going to be the straight best friend and that was it. But when I got to the end of the story, Benny displayed amazing sympathy and sensitivity. And it was then that I realized how I wanted to finish the story.

STRW:   LGBTQ teenagers face all the normal issues of teenagers face and then have the added pressure of acceptance and same sex romance/dating/.…what do you bring to the fictional “table” as it were, to make those issues immediate, and real?

Will Parkinson:  In Pitch, Taylor was forced to come out. He had some repercussions, but not what he expected. In Wet Paint, there will be dealings with what happened to Addy when he was a child.

A review of Pitch said that the subject matter was too adult to be young adult. I disagree. Kids aren’t stupid. They see things on television and movies, they hear about it from their friends. We can’t ignore them and hope to keep them in a safe bubble, because it’s not going to happen.

If you think a book deals with subjects you don’t want your child exposed to, then I think you’re being myopic. You’ve got a chance to talk with them about real life issues, and sticking your head in the sand is a disservice to them.

STRW:   I know you have a lot going on at the moment with (Pride Promotions) business matters and such, when do you find time to write?

Will Parkinson:  I try to find the time to do some words every day. A group of friends that I write with tell me when it’s time to stop doing and start writing. I usually listen to them.

STRW:    Do you see this becoming a series?

Will Parkinson:  I hadn’t. Then Benny and Addy came along and suddenly my head was filled with thoughts of characters and what they would be doing. If I do another story with Benny and Addy, it would be shifted from Will to Parker Williams (my adult penname) since the boys will be in college. But Will still has one more story to tell, I think, in regards to this branch of the story.

STRW:  What other YA issues do you want to address in your stories?

Will Parkinson: In one story I’m looking at, the young man has a reputation because of things he’s done sexually in the past. He’s trying really hard to move beyond that, and find something real.

STRW:   Or is it enough just to write a YA story, not particularly a YA GLBTQ story?

Will Parkinson:  Any story I write will be a gay themed story. I want people to know that they’re not alone, no matter how it seems.

STRW:   Are there dragons in your future?  Or perhaps a wizard or two?  Or is contemporary fiction your genre?

Will Parkinson:  I don’t know that Will is going to move beyond contemporary, though it might be interesting. Parker has a shifter story I’m working on.

STRW:  What’s next for Will Parkinson?

Will Parkinson:  I have no idea. Half the fun of finding out is in the doing.

Thank you, Will, for taking the time to answer my questions.  That was lovely.  For all the readers, don’t miss out on the excerpt below and the contest to enter.  Keep scrolling down for more of everything Wet Paint and Will Parkinson…..

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Book Name: Wet Paint
Author Name: Will Parkinson
Author Bio:

WILL PARKINSON believes that no matter what obstacles are thrown in the path of young love, it will always find a way to win in the end. He wants his characters to have their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to come easily.

None of this would have happened if he had followed the advice he was given many years ago. “What are you wasting your time on that for? It’s never going to amount to anything.” He believed it for the longest time, abandoning characters he’d created in his childhood.

He picked up his very first m/m story by a writer named Eden Winters, who was an absolute joy when they corresponded. She asked him if he wrote and he told her the story. Eden explained to Will that the voices in his head would never go away and how he needed to let them out. With that thought in mind, Will put e-pen to e-paper once more. It was truly a liberating experience and one he has no intention of giving up again.

Author Contact:

Wet Paint 400x600Title:  Wet Paint by Will Parkinson
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press eBook   DSP Papaerback

Video trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVOiQ8yOsII

Blurb:
Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately.

High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.

When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what – or who – they face, they belong together.

Excerpt:
Benny cast a glance at Addy, noticing how his eyes kept darting to him and then to the floor. He seemed troubled, unsure.

“Addy? Is there something wrong?”

Addy heaved a deep sigh, then was quiet for a moment. “Do I embarrass you?” he finally asked.

“What? No, of course not. Why would you even think that?” Benny was genuinely perplexed.

“Jackson and Taylor don’t seem to have any problem touching each other, but you act like I’ve got germs or something and won’t come anywhere near me when there’s other people around. I have to wonder if you’re ashamed to be seen with someone like… me.”

“Oh God, no,” Benny replied sharply. “Please don’t ever think that. You know what? C’mere.”

He grabbed Addy’s arm and dragged him into the lounge.

“Listen to me, little man. I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be ashamed of you. If anything, you should be ashamed of me.”

Addy looked puzzled. “Why?”

Benny slid his fingers through his stubbly hair, then rubbed the back of his neck before he spoke. “I’m not really comfortable with being… like this. I really do care for you, but I’ve never felt this way about a guy— well, about anyone—before, and I don’t know how to handle it. So no, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of you at all. I’m just not sure how to deal with everything.”

Addy took Benny by the hand and peered into his eyes. “That’s all I needed to know. I don’t want to rush you. If you need time, you’ve got to know I’ll give it to you. I just wanted to be sure that you wanted me.”

Benny regarded his boyfriend. Yeah, his boyfriend. Benny had never been afraid to stand up for anyone in his life. Why should he be ashamed to stand up for himself now?

“C’mere, little man,” he growled, putting his hand on Addy’s neck, pulling him in close.

Addy’s eyes went wide, excitement dancing in them. Benny licked his lips and then pressed them to Addy’s in a deep, thrilling kiss. Someone whimpered. Benny wasn’t really sure which one of them it had been. He felt his synapses fry. It was the most incredible thing he’d ever experienced. A voice called out, startling them both.

“Benny? Is there something you’d like to tell me?”

Benny looked up and stared for a moment at Taylor, who had a wide smile across his face. Benny could feel his cheeks heat up. This wasn’t the way he wanted this to go, but damn, right now he needed Addy in the worst way.

“No, Taylor, not right now,” he replied quietly.
Then he went back in for another one of those amazing kisses.

BadgeTemplateRedTour Dates: 8/18/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Angel Martinez, Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Amanda C. Stone, SA McAuley, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Love Bytes, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Havan Fellows, Emotion in Motion, My Fiction Nook, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Charli Green, Jade Crystal, Lee Brazil, Trisha Harrington’s Blog, Will Parkinson, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wake Up Your Wild Side, EE Montgomery, Inked Rainbow Reads, Full Moon Dreaming, Top2Bottom, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Fallen Angel Reviews, Sinfully Sexy, Iyana Jenna, Andrew Q. Gordon

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One of two $10 gift card to Amazon or ARe.  This is a YA Book, so contest age runs along YA restrictions.  Please use the Rafflecopter link provided for the entry form and for additional contest details.