Rating: 5 stars
Luke Landon is spending his birthday by himself, drinking and watching all his ex boyfriends pass by him at the bar, all seemingly happy without him. As the idea of another drink gets a happy internal hell yes, he hears a voice behind him saying the words, “Put your clothes back on and get back into your vehicle. The park has now closed.” It’s Owen West, back in his life after fifteen years apart. Their romance in college was so hot, so all encompassing they thought it would never end until it did, neither of them really understanding why. But now Owen is here on his birthday and they get a second chance at love, a second chance to get it right whether it be luck or fate, if they are smart enough to take the chance.
Second Time Lucky reminds me almost immediately why Ethan Day is a must read author for me. I never think of the personas he creates for his stories as characters, more like people I love listening to and spending time with. You know, that one friend we are always on the phone with or going out to the bar with them, listening and laughing until our stomachs hurt. Those are Ethan Day people. And Luke Landon is another memorable Ethan Day person. I was grinning with anticipation as I started to read Luke’s inner running commentary on his parade of exes at the bar. After perusing a guy with whom he had a diasterous date, Luke thinks “Don’t expect a happily-ever-after when you accidently break a man’s masturbation hand—life lesson learned.” Or
“Usually, gay men stayed on the same cycle—similar to the menstrual variety in that we did our best to avoid the achy cramps that came with running into our past failures. We instinctively knew what nights and times to avoid certain bars. It was something we normally didn’t have to work at.The same way the moon orbits the earth which in turn does the same with regard to the sun, we managed to avoid one another without needing to consciously think.” That’s pure Ethan Day. Funny, sarcastic, a little twisted and totally true. I could quote him all day.
Told from Luke’s pov, we are privy to all the inner workings of Luke’s mind and heart, a complicated duo if ever there was. Luke’s upbringing and current status with his mother make romantic relationships a hard sell. With three gay ex husbands behind her, Luke’s mother is not exactly a warm and supportive mother, and Luke’s abandonment by his father is an issue still impacting his relationships, whether he acknowledges that fact or not. Mostly not. Everything about Luke, from his pride in his work and his loyalty to his friends, makes him someone it is easy to empathize with and understand. And his constant inner monologue with all his insecurities front and center bubbles to the surface of each page, buoyant on its own effervescence, until it spills over everything in its path, covering all the events with a Lukas perspective, even Owen West. I really liked Owen West, a steady, good person with his own issues. I could also get behind his frustrations with Luke even as he understood the basis for Luke’s actions. Yes, Owen West feels like a real person too. So do all the characters in Second Time Lucky. I don’t need to talk about depth and dimension because it is unnecessary. They are that real, that authentic.
Ethan Day also has a wonderful way with settings, from Missoula, Montana and Owen’s family ranch to Middleton where Luke works and lives, it all comes to life with Day’s vivid details and small deft touches. Second Time Lucky is that complete package, full of laughter, outright guffaws, love and as with life, heartbreaking sobs and tears. Have your box of tissues handy. At one point in the story, a sudden occurrence hits Luke and the reader at the same time with the same impact. My heart hurts just thinking about it now. Everything is tied up in a wonderful ending, that will send you back to the beginning of the story to start reading it all over again. No quibbles here, not even a twinge. Trust me, you will love this one. I know I did. Great job, great story!
Cover: Cover by Winterheart Designs. Very eye catching, very flashy. Not sure how I feel about it, perhaps a little divided. From one standpoint I say, yes, that’s Lucky but under all that glitz is a man with depth. Where is that man on the cover?