Title: Handle with Care
Author: Josephine Myles
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Category (according to pub website)/Novel/201 pages/50k words
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This seemingly simple story touched my heart.
The best things in life aren’t free…they’re freely given.
Ben Lethbridge doesn’t have many vices left. After raising his little sister to adulthood, he wasted no time making up for the youth he lost to responsible parenting. Two years of partying it up—and ignoring his diabetes—has left him tethered to a home dialysis regimen.
He can do his job from his flat, fortunately, but most of his favourite things are forbidden. Except for DVD porn…and fantasizing over Ollie, the gorgeous, purple-haired skateboarder who delivers it.
Their banter is the highlight of Ben’s lonely day, but his illness-ravaged body is the cruel reality that prevents him from believing they’ll do anything more than flirt. Not to mention the age gap. Still, Ben figures there’s no harm in sprucing himself up a bit.
Then one day, a package accidentally splits open, revealing Ben’s dirty little secret…and an unexpected connection that leaves him wondering if he’s been reading Ollie wrong all this time. There’s only one way to find out: risk showing Ollie every last scar. And hope “far from perfect” is good enough for a chance at love.
Product Warnings: Contains superhero porn comics and a cute, accident-prone delivery guy with colour-changing hair. Readers may experience coffee cravings, an unexpected liking for bad mullets, and the urge to wrap Ollie up and take him home.
I like Josephine Myles’ writing style, but the main reason why I grabbed this book for review because as the blurb tells us, one of the guys is seriously ill and I was hoping that the story would portray it sensitively and that the research was well done. I had a guess that this writer cares about research if the story is contemporary and I was not disappointed. Ben being on dialysis is really well-portrayed; we are not spared some of the uncomfortable details of his illness and I was very happy that writer went that road. I also really loved how Ben’s character was described, and how his illness affected his personal life and professional life (how could it not?), but he is still living his life to the best of his ability. I also loved how Ben’s insecurities were portrayed and how sweetly his crush on Ollie is depicted. I just liked both of them pretty much almost as soon as they appeared on the pages.
I thought the development of their relationship was nuanced and well-done. I really liked how the writer explored their difference in ages and truly showed both guys’ fears as to what it means to have younger/older partner and how it could still become a great relationship if both of them keep working on it and talking about it.
Ollie was a great character too, with his past shaping him into who he is today, and I really liked his strength and totally understood his insecurities. I thought he and Ben were really good match and I liked how when they quarreled, they managed to talk about it afterwards.
I also really enjoyed the female characters in this book, and Ben’s sister and his neighbor were wonderful as supporting characters. They were not perfect, but very human, quite likeable and not demonized at all.
There was one thing that I am not sure if I liked. As much as I felt that Ben’s illness was researched very well, I thought that his cure was a tad convenient. In thinking about it, I realize that if Ben died, I would not have been happy either, so I guess it was a no win situation for me. And it is not like his cure was not possible, just it seemed like too much of a convenient coincidence. I guess for the sake of it being a romantic literature, I should be happy with it. Plus, it is not like the cure was magic and now Ben can totally forget about and live free and easy as he has to take a lot of medications for the rest of his life, so it is not like his illness was swept under the rug at the end. I suppose it could have been handled much worse.
Available on April 24 from Samhain Publishing