Reviewed by Helyce
Everyone deserves a hero.
Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick. (Goodreads)
I am a huge fan of Marie Sexton, so I jumped at the chance to read this book. I didn’t even read the blurb, so the character of Owen with his many issues, totally took me by surprise. When I realized that his character had been born without part of his arm due to an amnio-band I was hooked. I have a niece who was born without her right forearm and hand, but due to her amazing parents, she does not see the things she cannot do at all. She plays sports, has ridden horses and will be attending a special music camp this summer, designed for amputees. We focus on everything in a positive manner and continually encourage her to try everything.
So, I fell a little in love with Owen from the beginning.
When Nick moves in and comes around to introduce himself to Owen and shares with Owen the fact that his sister was born without her right arm, my first reaction was, “that’s too much of a coincidence”. But I let it go, because I could see immediately that Nick was exactly what Owen would need in order to break out of the self-imposed hermit-like life he was leading. Nick accepted him unconditionally from the moment they met and as their friendship grows Owen slowly comes out of his shell.
I loved how the author dealt with all of Owen’s issues; not only from the point of Nick’s acceptance, but also that Owen didn’t just up and give up the first time that things go badly. After a horrible attempt at dinner in a super crowded Greek restaurant when Owen gets so worked up he has to leave, rather than call it a night, Nick suggests trying another place. When Owen agrees, Nick starts to remove Owen’s clothing in order to remove the prosthetic in an effort to put make Owen more comfortable. The act is very intimate for Owen:
I blushed, but I stood still as he undid the strap. He was close enough I could easily have kissed him if I’d dared. He finished the first buckle and began to undo the one on the other side. “I feel silly,” I said. Silly and ridiculously aroused, but I opted to keep that latter bit to myself.
“I just do.”
“Well, stop.” He pushed the straps off my shoulders and reached for my arm, but I pulled back, thinking of the wrapping underneath, of the sweat and the way my skin was always red and inflamed after wearing the prosthetic.
“Don’t. You don’t want to do that.”
“I’ve done it a hundred times for my sister.” He laughed. “Probably more. Anyway, I’m a doctor, remember?”
“I’m not a dog.”
“I’m aware of that fact,” he said. And then his laughter seemed to fall away and he added, in a quieter voice, “Excruciatingly aware.”
It’s clear that Nick is attracted to Owen; all the signals are there, but their relationship doesn’t really advance which causes Owen to be confused. Nick is dealing with a situation of his own and it’s huge. When Nick shares this conflict with Owen, everything changes and I worried that Owen would take ten steps backwards after coming so far out of his solitary existence. The exact opposite happens however. Owen has to come to terms with his feelings for Nick and he has to make some difficult choices.
I have to mention the character of Nick’s sister, June. She really brought light into the story. It was clear that June never let the fact that she was missing an arm stop her from doing anything. Her love of life and doing whatever she wanted to do was catching for Owen. She was a perfect addition here and brought some very humorous moments to this story.
If there was ever a character that deserved some hatred, it is Owen’s mother. Even after certain truths are revealed, there was no way this woman could have ever redeemed herself in my eyes. Here she was given a beautiful healthy son, but she could only see his imperfections. And she made him pay for them for his whole life. The scenes with her were difficult and painful as I’m sure the author meant them to be. Owen’s dad did not do enough to shelter his son from the emotional abuse of his wife, and when the reasons for this are revealed, I understood it for what it was. I liked how the author wrapped up this portion of the story and the decision that Owen’s dad finally made in the end.
It was hard to write this without spoilers, so if it seems a bit cryptic that is why. The author deals with very sensitive subject matter in this book-for both Owen and Nick. I thought it was done very well. I loved that initially Nick was Owen’s champion-helping him to break out of his shell and live. But in the end, Owen truly was Nick’s champion-forcing him out of his own self imposed prison and letting love back into his life.