Home Again (Home #2)

Title: Home Again (Home #2)
Author: Cardeno C
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Buy Link: Buy Link Home Again
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (50,553 words)
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Cole

Review Summary: An okay performance by a first time author, but still a book that I found had quite a few problems.

BLURB

Noah Forman wakes up in a hospital and can’t remember how he got there. He holds it together, taking comfort in the fact that the man he has loved since childhood, his partner, Clark Lehman, is on his way. But when Clark finally arrives, Noah is horrified to discover that he doesn’t remember anything from the past three years, and he simply can’t understand why. It will take some painful confrontations if Noah’s going to figure out why he’s lost all memories of his recent past… and secure the future he’s dreamed of having with Clark.

REVIEW

Home Again opens in the hospital room of Noah Forman, who has been in a coma for four weeks. Upon opening his eyes, he is surprised to see his brother Ben, to whom he has been estranged, not his partner Clark. Immediately, his first fear is that Clark has died in whatever accident has landed him in the hospital. He is quickly reassured, however, that that isn’t the case. Before Ben can explain why Clark isn’t there, Noah assumes that Clark is being kept away from the hospital by his brother, both of whom used to be best friends before they told Ben that they loved one another. After they both came out to Noah’s family, each as gay men and as a couple, they have been estranged from Noah’s family, of which Clark was always close after the death of his mother at eighteen. When Clark finally makes it to the hospital, Noah can’t understand why he looks so much older, until he finally realizes that the last date he can remember is three years prior. The doctors are worried, however, that Noah doesn’t seem to have any brain damage, and they decide that there must have been some emotional event that Noah doesn’t want to remember. On top of this revelation, Clark seems to shy away from any reminders of the past three years, all of which Noah assumes were shared as a happily domesticated couple.

About half of Home Again is told through flashbacks to the time when Ben first befriended Clark in high school. At that time, Clark also meets Ben’s younger brother Noah, the black sheep of the family, and is immediately smitten. I thought that the past/present dynamic worked well for the story, as we need a great deal of back-tracking from where the story starts to understand how the two characters came to be in the hospital room. I did, however, have a problem with how they met. When Clark came home with his new friend Ben, he was seventeen. The problem is that when they meet, Noah is only thirteen. There is no sex until Noah turns eighteen, but the romance is basically already established at this point. I suppose I could have overlooked a great deal of this if I felt like the situation was properly explained, but I never really felt like I understood it. Noah, at age thirteen, is already sneaking out of the house every night and having sex with strangers, while Clark, at seventeen, is not only virginal, but incredibly naive. Not only has he not realized that he is gay at this point, but he also hasn’t sexually woken yet. This is explained a bit by Clark’s nature as well as most of his time as a teenager spent caring for his dying mother. I also understand the message that the author was trying to prove, which is that people mature at different ages. Yet, for all that Clark debates during this time that they are at two different emotional stages in life, it really makes no difference if he is falling in love with Noah at the same time. This is, ultimately, where the problem lies — we’re told this by Clark, but at the same time we aren’t shown that they are at different places and must come together at a later point when they’re at the same stage in life. It really felt like a way to prolong the sex until it wasn’t seen as a criminal act.

I felt like this problem was interspersed throughout the book — the general rookie mistake of telling instead of showing. There were numerous instances throughout the story, specifically where the characters didn’t stay true to themselves, that I never grasped because most of the story was told to me. There were also several times, like I mentioned before, that the characters changed, made uncharacteristic statements, or made very strange decisions that just didn’t seem like them at all. There was even one point in the story where one character, in a moment’s notice, turns into some sort of feral beast and tries to mark his territory on the other by grinding his cock into the other in front of another character (in very strange company, in my opinion). There were several examples like this that dragged me out of the story and made me think … what?

There were also some problems with the pacing of the story. A few times the action would pause at a precipitous moment, only to go back and tell how the character came to that place and why. Examples like these should be woven throughout the story, so that we almost accept them by osmosis; that way, when the character gets to that moment, the pace of the story isn’t interrupted and we understand the character’s actions or feelings without realizing how we got there. This happened a few times as well, when an aspect of the characters would suddenly appear and I had no indication of why (both Noah’s interest in submission and his jealousy). At this point, in the present part of the story the characters have been together for what amounts to somewhere between 6-8 years, so the sudden emergence of new traits that are previously not alluded to drew me out of the story. Furthermore, the reason that Noah is in a coma in the first place is never answered. We never learn about the accident that put him into the hospital.

The good news about this is that these are all things the author can work on. These are all problems that will get better the more the author writes (and the more constructive criticism and editing they receive), and I hope that Cardeno C.’s further stories reflect that. The next book in this series is set to be released soon, and I did like the couple that is to be the focus the sequel, though we barely meet them and it felt like they were stuck into this book as a brief introduction. I would have liked to get to know them a little better and to understand how well they know Clark. Also, I know that many people like the amnesia plotline and the plot itself was rather good, though the execution of it was a bit shaky.

While I can’t say that I would recommend this book, I won’t write off the author or the series altogether. I think that the more s/he writes, the better they will get. I’m holding my recommendations until I read the next book. Hopefully, Cardeno C will surprise me.

Home Series

Author

26, male, gay, baker, knitter, sometimes writer, and voracious reader of all things | contact me: cole.riann[at]gmail.com

25 comments

  • :nuts: Okay, I’ll ask the weird question, Why does he have numbers tatooed up his neck? Never seen that one before.

    Oh and thanks for the review, good job being honest AND respectful to the work of the author :2thumbs:

    Reply
    • Hey Reggie!

      First of all, thank you! I hope that the author is brave enough to read a review with not such a good rating, because I really think that my advice could help. That’s what I was trying for anyway.

      The numbers are a date that refer to the date Noah decided to give up drugs and messing around in order to devote his life to winning over Clark. That’s a bit oddly paraphrased, but that was the way I took it. I must admit that a tattoo like that is a bit of a gutsy move. I’m sure that my first reaction was like many others in that it made me think of Holocaust victims… That isn’t something that you want to draw attention to in your book unless it had direct relevance. I would think so anyway, but that’s just me.

      Thanks Reggie 😎

      Reply
  • The blurb sound really good, but I guess that is all… damn. If he is in the hospital and his partner is not there, people are going to assume things!

    I’m thinking that I already have enough books to read! Great review though! Loved the insights!

    Reply
  • Cole, I want to write like you when I grow up :). Seriously, loved the review, but I think I seem to love all of yours hehe. I agree with many issues you pointed about the book, but I also want to nominate Noah for the award in the *most stupid character” category. Seriously, I totally know that this is my emotional reaction and I would not have counted it in evaluating the book, but as a reader I feel I can afford such luxury. I mean, the reason for their break up for me felt as one of the most idiotic actions I have ever read about it in this genre.

    Oh and do not get me started on the “mysterious, never explained accident”. I thought I missed a page on my ereader, seriously and I went back and then I realized that *I* have not missed anything, but writer probably did.

    Reply
    • Thank you Sirius! I often have to review my reviews a few times to make sure the mess in my head makes sense :nuts:

      I also want to nominate Noah for the award in the *most stupid character” category.

      LOL, yes. That was one of the problems that I had with Noah’s characterizations — namely that he’s presented as this really smart man, though occasionally emotionally erratic. I also felt like the issues that came up within their relationship were sortof thrown in as roadblocks, if that makes sense, instead of organically growing out of their fears, insecurities, and actions. It isn’t enough for them to have problems they work through, you know? We need to understand their motivations for those things…

      Anyway, like I said, those are things the author can work on. If those things are worked through in the later books, then I think the series could turn out to be a really good one.

      Thanks for commenting Sirius! 🙂

      Reply
  • I think I’ll skip this one but if you like amnesia stories Amor en Retrogrado by AM Riley is a really terrific book.

    Reply
  • I just finished this and I was disappointed in the writing too. The premise was good, execution not. Like you said hopefully the next book will be better. But I’ll wait to see what you say before plunking down money. Thanks Cole.

    Reply
    • I’ll brave the front for you Patty! 🙂

      Thanks for leaving a comment — we seem to have had the same reading experience. I think that just goes to show that these are all things that can be worked on. I think that Cardeno C. has talent, but this book could have gone through two extra re-writes before being released to make it better.

      Reply
    • Hi Lasha!

      You won’t have to wait long. The next book He Completes Me comes out in a couple of weeks. I am a little nervous though, because I really don’t like that title 🙁 But, we’ll see…

      Have a great day Lasha!

      Reply
  • I didn´t mind that the car accident was only mentioned but it worried me other things you point out (i.e. changes in the characters / situations out of the blue…) The settings had really caught my attention so maybe I was expecting more and I was left wishing for it 🙁
    I haven´t given up in this author either, the other couple looks promising. I wonder how the book will be linked to this one since it seems more like a prequel of the new couple. ❗
    Thank you for your review 😎

    Reply
    • Hi Helena!

      Was it a car accident? I had assumed that, but when I looked back I couldn’t find it mentioned. Then, by his later characterizations, I thought that his behavior that led up to the accident (or was it?) might be suspect, just from his frame of mind.

      Yes, I’m hoping the next book in the series is better. It sounds interesting, but we never really got to know them, so I’m not sure. It will be interesting to see how they got together, yes. It seems like maybe it is before or at the same time at this one. We’ll see, I suppose.

      Thanks for commenting Helena 🙂

      Reply
      • Oh, yes, the car accident was mentioned. But I didn´t associated it with an special state of mind since Clark had left Noah some time ago 😕
        Anyway, let´s hope the next book improves :crystalball2:
        I´ll check it out but I´ll take my time :oldman:

        Reply
        • LOL, nice use of the green balls 🙂

          We don’t have to wait long for the sequel. I think I’ll go ahead and review that one too, just to see, because I’m also curious myself. Though, if they don’t get better, I probably won’t review the rest of the series.

          Reply
      • Right, it was said that there was a car accident, but I waited for description of it, you know?

        Like there is a blank in there in describing what happened, if that makes sense?

        Reply
        • That’s exactly how I felt too. I thought that the next book would answer that question, but I didn’t realize at the time that it was about another couple. I suppose I felt like this couple’s story wasn’t completely worked through to it’s completion…or maybe I felt that way because there were some things missing…

          Reply
  • Yeah… the never finding out about what happened to put Noah in the hospital thing? That’s already bothering me and I haven’t even read the book! 😛

    I’m with Leslie S on this one, Cole. I think I’ll wait to see what you think of the sequel before I get invested in this world.

    Thanks for the (as always) excellent review! 😀

    ~Tis

    Reply
    • Hi Tis!

      Sadly, there were a lot more things other than the hospital information that bothered me, but I’m hoping that they’re rookie mistakes and the more Cardeno C writes, the more naturally those things will be worked out.

      Thanks for replying Tis 🙂

      Reply
  • I’m almost tempted to buy the book just to see the ‘feral beast’ moment! You made it sound so intriguing!

    I’m one of those people who likes amnesia plots 😛 even though I know half of them are wildly unbelievable, at least in medical terms. But with the technical problems you’ve mentioned, I’m not sure about this one. Hmm hmm. I trust your reviews Cole so I think I’ll wait until the next book comes out and if you think the author improves, I might go back and read this one. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lol, Lesie! I actually laughed when that part came up in the book. I thought, is he turning into a werewolf?

      I thought that the plotline was the best part of the book. The author obviously had a strong enough idea for the story that made her want to sit down and write, since this is her first published book (at least with this name). So, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt for the time being. I’m hoping that the next ones will improve, and I’m sure they will to some extent just from practice.

      Thanks Leslie 🙂

      Reply
  • The reason that he is in the hospital is never revealed? That would drive me bananas. I think I’ll give this one a pass. Thanks for a good review, Cole.

    L

    Reply
    • Hi Leslie,

      Yes, that bugged me a bit, but I suppose that it didn’t bother me quiet as much as it would in most books because, (1) it isn’t a central plot point, mostly just a jumping off point for the author to get the story started, and (2) the other problems bothered me a lot more. Still, I would have liked to know.

      Thanks Leslie!

      Reply

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