We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Review: Fantastic ideas in this story. Really interesting and fresh with the character Mick. The more I read about him, the more I was intrigued.
But I'm on the fence on some parts.
The romance is 3 Hearts.
The self-growth/ new adult journey of Mick that is 4 Hearts.
This was my first Alexa Milne and I was pleasantly surprised. From the blurb I expected a just a sweet little uncomplicated opposites-attract, hurt/comfort -dealing with grief of a dead partner. (I enjoy grieving romances) And based on the cover it would feature a ginger bear and a rainbow hair twink possibly? And the story ended up having more feels than expected and yet still kept it light.
Mick is 24 years old, works as a night guard for an office building and suffers from social anxiety. That's the tip of his iceberg. He lost his only lover, Alfie three years ago and is barely existing. A flamboyant deliveryman/ professional skateboard wannabe named Ceri sees him and is drawn by the shy, unkempt man. The story is about their whirlwind romance/Mick finally realizing there is life outside of his shell.
I think readers will gravitate to the hurt/comfort aspect of Mick and his backstory. It's interesting and unique. The story is solid, with notes of angst, interwoven with sweet especially the ending (I think it got a little loose toward the end) My issue is that while the book said the right words and did a lot of the right things, I am on the fence on believing someone like Mick opening his arms so quickly to Ceri days after meeting him.
Social anxiety tied with mental health issues like his OCD, panic attacks etc. I'd expect them to take time to crack. I hate pulling the "not in my experience" card but though Mick does put up a struggle toward the middle of the book...I expected that in the beginning. Or least more of a valiant effort. Though Ceri has an interest in psychology and he found a common bond in Doctor Who, something about the speed of the start their relationship rang false for me.
The author does explain how Mick came to be under the thumb of his mother and his lover (who he also ran to rather quickly) My heart breaks for this guy. Mick's childhood is quietly horrific. His family is like something you read in the newspaper. And I applaud the author for going there, and not solving all of his issues by the end of the book. Mick is still working on himself in a healthy, positive way. At times, I wondered if him even being in a relationship with Ceri was good for him because he had so many personal demons to exorcise, especially parts of that HEA (way too soon, IMO) These are young twenty-somethings...all of that wasn't necessary.
There were minor editing issues, some parts read clunky, ended at weird spots. The author is fairly new, I'd like to see what else she can create in the future.
Solid story, not a new premise but the author brings unique ideas to the plot. If there was maybe more of a solid beginning, more days of Ceri chipping at Mick's shell and Mick giving more resistance sooner than later, I'd have rated higher. Everything after was great, fun and sweet. I'm proud of what Mick accomplished.
Overall, enjoyable and a story with heart.