Review of Second Time Lucky by Ethan Day

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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?

The Week Ahead and A Must Recipe – Tarragon Chicken

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Happy Father’s Day all.  It’s a beautiful day here in Maryland, and all is well.  Except for third best dog, Kirby.  Kirby is our Soft Coated Wheaton and a rescue.  A total joy and all around dim bulb who we love dearly.  But he is like a small boy, boundless energy and everything goes into his mouth, regardless of what it is.  So he got into something a couple of days ago and has a upset stomach for his efforts.  This is a typical day with Kirby. It starts either inside or outside.

Kirby comes up to me and sits, wagging his tail, waiting for me to notice him. (uh, right big dog with a Wilfred Brimley face at my elbow)

Me:  Kirby, whatcha doing?

Kirby:  Grins and shows me mouth full of crap (5 socks, robe, pillow case, 3 stuffed toys, who knows)

Me:  Oh, Kirby. (sigh).  OK, let me have it.

Kirby: Runs to top of hill, staircase, sits and grins with mouth full of crap.

Me:  Kirby, get your butt down here.

Kirby:  Grins, wags tail.

Me:  Kirbyyyyyyyyyyy!   Get up, goes to top of hill or staircase, at which point Kirby runs past me to stand at the bottom.

Kirby:  Sits and grins with mouth full of crap.

Repeat sequence until I finally empty his mouth.  Which he promptly fills up again. And when his mouth is empty, he is talking up a storm.  He  wants me to know that kids are on their bikes in front of the house, the UPS man has just driven down the street, you name it.  He is the house’s Town Cryer.  Siamese cats have nothing on him.  I wish I could do an audio recording of Kirby.  I would post it here, trust me you would be amazed.

So while I have a few moments this morning before we start our ritual, here is our review schedule for next week:

Monday:                                   Concord Grape: Unexpected by TC Blue

Tuesday:                                    Stone Rose (Lost Gods #3) by Megan Derr

Wednesday:                             Smooth Like Latte by Rawiya

Thursday:                                 Second Time Lucky by Ethan Day

Friday:                                      Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder

Saturday:                                  Reviewers Surprise

 

After all that great reading, you will need some sustenance.  I just made this for the first time and it was wonderful.  I used chicken thighs which I lightly seasoned and put into a 420 oven for 15 mins.  Then I crisped the skin in the pan and put the chicken pieces aside.  Then start the recipe from there.  You will love it.  Pair it with the dry white wine you cooked with and a lovely light salad and you have a great summer meal. Enjoy!

Tarragon Chicken

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken (about 3 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup  dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
1 cup   creme fraiche
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Lemon juice

Directions:

Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over quite high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry in batches until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Put all the chicken back in the pan, add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Reduce any leftover juices until sticky. Add the wine and the shallots and reduce to a thickish sauce, about 5 minutes. Add the creme fraiche and half the tarragon. Boil down again to sauce consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.

Season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Put back the chicken pieces, turning to coat, then transfer to a platter. Pour the sauce over, scatter over the remaining tarragon and serve.