Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “…that insane need to consume the other person. He didn’t know what it meant, but he held on to the feeling and put it back in the embrace.“
Police officer Samuel Briggs came to the small town of Stratton, PA in order to escape his painful past. All he wants is to fix up his house, work his shifts, and find some peace and quiet. He can’t handle another relationship, but finds himself tempted by the short order cook at the Dixie Cup diner.
Rey King lives to work. Cook, handyman, salesmen…Rey does it all. Relationships have no place in his busy schedule. Sam’s strength calls to him though and after a no strings attached night of sex, a cautious friendship forms. But Rey and Sam both have scars from the past that could destroy the fragile foundation they have formed unless they can be honest with one another. And themselves.
A.M. Arthur’s debut, Cost Of Repairs, is a emotionally heart tugging male/male romance about pain, loss, and forgiveness. Smoothly written with a viable plot and interesting sub plots that intertwine and pull together to give us a poignant realistic story. Engaging characters and descriptions add to the overall “small town” appeal that the story’s foundation is built upon.
Our protagonists, Sam and Rey, are tortured individuals. Both have suffered a devastating loss that has crippled them emotionally and chained them in their pasts. Officer Sam Briggs left New Mexico after his boyfriend was the victim of a fatal hate crime. When he finds himself unable to go forward, he leaves his family and friends and moves to Stratton, PA with only his possessions and a devastated heart. Rey (Reign) King is a short order cook who is continuously paying for crime he didn’t commit. He finds himself teetering on the brink of ruin each and every day; buried on obligations he feels committed to carrying.
The author does a wonderful job of introducing Sam and Rey in the present, then revealing their individual pasts slowly to coincide with events happening now. Their layers are peeled back, allowing us to understand where they came from and where they are at now. Sam’s an instinctive protector. He feels the need to help Rey in the beginning and offers him friendship and an ear. As their relationship progresses, he realizes that Rey has become more than just a friend; he has become very important to him. The relationship is taken slowly with plenty of emotional and physical tension. These two men are not easy and it stands to reason that their romance would not be either. They are both scared of loss and are reluctant to allow someone into a position that could hurt them again.
The sexual side of the relationship is sweet and emotionally sticky. In it we are offered even more insight into Sam and Rey. I really liked that their relationship isn’t made a sticky point with the town or the residents. While neither is shouting their sexual nature from the rooftops, they also aren’t hiding it.
The main conflict and subsequent conflicts are used to facilitate Sam and Rey’s relationship. Each problem mirrors a past issue that Sam and Rey are dealing with. The solutions are used to help heal the past. With these problems comes the introductions of the secondary characters who play equally important roles. The staff of the Dixie Cup who love both Rey and Sam to Sam’s buddies on the police force. I loved the easy familiarity of the diner and the support Sam and Rey receive when problems present themselves.
The ending is the dramatic final straw that breaks Sam and Rey and forces them to confront their deepest fears. I admit I didn’t see this particular situation coming but it’s played out with delicious hyper tense awareness that has you wide eyed with shock.
I thoroughly enjoyed A.M. Arthur’s debut romance and look forward to reading more.
Overall Rating: B