Review: It’s Complicated (Tucker Springs #7) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

ItsComplicated_500x750Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden, after much soul searching and separations, have finally decided to give their relationship another try. Now living apart, they have just had their first date on the path to a newer, more healthy future and things look promising. Then Jeff gets a call from his ex wife and business partner that will change everything. She says she’s pregnant and that Jeff is the father.  One late booze fueled hookup while Brad and Jeff were separated results in a pregnancy that threatens Brad and Jeff’s relationship on every level.

Brad has always feared that Jeff would leave him for a wife and kids and now his worst nightmare seems to be coming true.  Brad has never felt like a priority to Jeff because of the time Jeff spends on his business.  Now with a child on the way, what time will Jeff have left for him and their relationship?

For Jeff, his carefully created plans for getting back together with Brad are falling to pieces.  Even worse is the announcement from his ex wife that she will be leaving Tucker Springs and returning to Denver with their child.  If he wants to be a part of the baby’s life, and he does, he will have to somehow juggle her part of their business while traveling to Denver to see their child.  Or move everything to Denver, including himself.  Neither plan seems reasonable or  even possible if his and Brad’s reconciliation is to work.

Everything has gotten so complicated.  What happens when sometimes not even love is enough to hold a couple together?

It’s Complicated explores the decision that separated couple Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden, friends of Nathan, made at the end of After the Fall (Tucker Springs #6).  In After the Fall, Nathan listens to the problems Brad is having with his relationship with Jeff and it impacts Nathan’s rationale about the events occuring in his own romance.  It’s a secondary element but we gather that the constant fighting between Jeff and Brad has caused them to separate after years together.  By the end of the story, Jeff and Brad have decided that their love is deep enough that it merits one last effort to stay together and that’s where It’s Complicated starts.  And its also where it almost immediately starts to fall apart again.

This conflicted and deeply in love couple have just gone on their first date towards a new healthier relationship,  It went well even with both of them on their best behavior and ended up in bed at the end of the night. Jeff and Brad’s sex life has always been fantastic, its everywhere else in their relationship that the couple has problems.  Most readers, no matter  their current romantic status, can relate to this couple because they have been there or know people who have.  The stress, the communication problems, the prioritizing of time between business and family and above all the insecurities…these are issues that plague many a modern couple.  And from the caustic comments and arguing to the tentative steps back towards each other, L.A. Witt’s couple travels a realistic and well worn path.

Tucker Springs and its inhabitants have a way of growing on you as you travel through each of the Tucker Springs couples stories.  People pass in and out of each others lives much as you would do in any small town.  And whether or not they are germane to the story at hand, the reader absentmindedly takes note of who and what is trying to get together or who needs a new romance in their lives because we know they are sure to surface later on in the series. So I was prepared to meet up with Brad and Jeff to see what had happened since After the Fall and the answer is nothing less than a couple melting down under the pressure and stress of their lives and not knowing how climb out of their relationship rut.

Every bit of dialog, every painful argument and painful silence feels authentic.  L.A. Witt knows how to write relationships and real people in trouble.  It feels every inch as stressful and sad as a couple who you happen to be acquainted with would look if they weren’t going to make it.  You feel extraordinarily bad for them, wish you could help them in some way and you would hope for the best.  I just am not sure you would want to be there for the daily struggle, the disheartening conversations and the hair pulling when nothing else is working.  Only your affection for this couple will keep you reading through the mess they have made of their relationship and their own personal well being.

I do like that Jeff’s ex wife is not made out to be a cardboard villain here.  She has her excellent reasons for moving away from Tucker Springs and yes, she wants her family back together.  All reasonsible, all very realistic.  Jeff too is believably human.  He is being pulled in every direction by his obligations, his wants and desires as well as the people he loves.  Did I want to give him a shake every now and again? Sure, but you could relate to Jeff as he tries to balance things in his life too weighty to be neatly boxed up and compartmentalized.  It doesn’t work and he ends up paying for it.

And then there is Brad, everyone’s last priority, even for himself.  Brad has finally realized that he deserves more but what he wants is Brad, a conundrum to be sure given the current circumstances and overwhelming issues. Here is a character who cries out for your compassion and gets it. His is the character most people will relate to as he questions just how much he is going to endure to keep Jeff in his life.  He asks the toughest questions here. And Jeff’s answers to those are sometimes problematic, making Jeff a less than sympathetic character. The angst swirls mightily here as does the love.  But do you really want to be in the middle of it?  That’s a question each reader will have to ask for themselves because there is some truly heartbreaking aspects to this story.

What pulled it all together for me and made this a read to recommend?  In addition to the wonderful writing and characters? That would be the Epilogue.  L.A. Witt’s epilogue does what  every great epilogue should,  Pull together the final story elements and let the reader in on how it all turned out.  It is here that many of the satisfying and happy parts of Brad and Jeff’s relationship that I wanted to see earlier in the story are displayed.  Where all we had before was strain and unhappiness, now we get to see why they were so great together and what made them a couple worth saving.  And it was after reading the Epilogue that I could then go back and reread parts of the story with a new perspective that gave me a great appreciation for this couple and their story.  It made everything work and let me enjoy the re-coupling of two more of Tucker Springs uncoupled inhabitants.  Tucker Springs is a wonderful series and this story is just one more example why.

Cover art by LC Chase is gorgeous and pertinent for this story and series.

Book Details:

ebook, 196 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491342
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/its-complicated
seriesTucker Springs #7

Buy  ARe  Amazon Riptide Publishing

Here are the stories in the Tucker Springs series in the order they were written, and is recommended that they be read:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt
Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
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
After The Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt
It’s Complicated (Tucker Springs #7) by L.A. Witt

Return to Tucker Springs with L.A. Witt’s It’s Complicated Book Tour (contest)

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Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Tucker Springs #7, It’s Complicated!

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one ebook off my backlist (excluding It’s Complicated) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on May 4th, and winners will be announced on May 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Rafflecopter Drawing.itsComplicated_150x300(1)

***L.A. Witt:

So what is Jeff’s relationship with his ex-wife?

As you’ve likely gathered from the blurb for It’s Complicated, Jeff and his ex-wife are, shall we say, amicable. They run a business together. And, thanks to an impulsive moment while Jeff thought he and Brad were done forever, they’re having a baby together.

A lot of readers have asked what kind of relationship they have. Is this a ménage? Is Jeff considering going back to his ex-wife? Did he cheat on Brad? Are there male/female sex scenes in this book?

The simple answer to all three of those is No.

So, here’s a little excerpt to shed some light on how Brad and Jeff both feel about the situation, and about what happened in the first place:

****
“It’s . . . a lot to process.” I took another drink. “What about you?”

Brad lifted his head. “What?”

“How do you feel about all this?”

“Does it matter?” He half shrugged. “It’s happening whether I like it or not.” The venomous undertone was subtle, but it was definitely there.

I fought the urge to reach for his arm. “It matters to me.”

His eyes narrowed. I cringed inwardly, bracing for whatever snide comment was on the tip of his tongue.

Then Brad squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay, I just . . . I have to know. Aside from the obvious”—he lowered his hand and looked straight at me—“how exactly did this happen?”

I blew out a breath. “How, or when?”

He cocked his head slightly and reached for his beer. “Both, now that you mention it.”

“It was while you and I had broken up completely. Just so we’re clear on that.”

“Okay.” If that was a relief, he didn’t let it show. I didn’t know if he thought I’d cheated on him or what, but he was keeping his cards close to his vest tonight. “So, what happened?”

“Do you really want the gory details?”

“Not the details, no.” He shifted in his chair. “I guess I’m just wondering how you guys went from . . .”

“From business partners to getting into bed together?”

Brad flinched. “Basically.”

I drummed my fingers on the side of my beer. “We were at work one night. It’d been, I don’t know, just a rough day for both of us. Rough week, actually. One of the engravers had fucked up a huge order, and Christine and I ended up staying until three in the damned morning to redo everything so we could still deliver it the next day.” I paused for a drink and rolled it around in my mouth as I replayed that night in my mind and tried to come up with a way to explain it.

It must have made sense at the time. Looking back now with a clear head, I couldn’t put the steps together. I couldn’t tell myself—never mind Brad—how it had happened. One minute, my ex-wife and I had been stressed and exhausted, alternately working together and sniping at each other as we tried to finish an expedited job at all hours of the night. The next, I’d had her up against the supply closet with her legs around my waist.

“Jeff?”

I swallowed the mouthful of beer. “I really can’t explain it. To be honest, it just . . . it just happened.”

He searched my eyes. “Was this the first time you guys—”

“Brad. Why are we doing this? Dissecting it isn’t going to change anything.”

“It’ll help me get my head around it.” He looked down. “I’m just . . . I’m trying to understand it. And figure out what it means for us.”

“For us?”

“Yeah.” He drained his beer. “Us versus the two of you.”

“The—” I sat up straighter. “Do you think Christine and I are going to get back together?”

His lips tightened, and his eyes dared me to tell him his worries were unwarranted.

I fought the urge to reach past our beers and take his hand. “Brad, it was a one-time thing. I can’t even explain why it happened. I guess that night, we both needed someone and . . .” I exhaled and avoided his eyes. “Maybe we were just blowing off a little steam. I don’t even know. But it’s not like that.”

“And is that going to change now that there’s a kid involved?”

I lifted my gaze. “If it was, do you think I’d be here with you?”
***

Author Bio: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt). L.A. can also be found at:

Goodreads Author Page
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It’s Complicated Blurb:

ItsComplicated_500x750After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

It’s Complicated is available April 28th from Riptide Publishing.

 

 

Book Details:

Author: L.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-134-2
eBook release: Apr 28, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-135-9
Print release: Apr 28, 2014
Word count: 52,000
Page count: 205
Type: Standalone
Cover by: L.C. Chase
– See more at: Riptide Publishing