Title: David, Renewed (Delta Restorations #1)
Author: Diana Copland
Publisher: Dreamspinner Publications
Release Date: September 21, 2016
Page Count: 244
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When interior designer David Snyder buys a beautiful century-old house in eastern Washington, he is reeling with heartbreak and looking for somewhere to put down roots. Unfortunately his new home comes with a laundry list of problems: electrical, plumbing, heating… things David knows nothing about. When his mother offers him the business card of a local handyman, David pictures an overweight, balding man in his fifties. But Jackson Henry couldn’t be further from that stereotype.
Dark-haired, muscular, and handsome, Jackson left a large construction firm in Seattle to take care of his sick mother. However, his hometown still has an active “good old boy” network, and finding employment in construction is almost impossible for an openly gay man. Determined to persevere, Jackson takes odd jobs as a handyman. He’s exactly what David needs—in more ways than one.
David isn’t ready for his attraction to Jackson, not considering the way his last relationship ended. But as the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear that the heart often knows best, and it rewards those willing to listen.
It makes my freakin’ day when I read a story from a new-to-me author and fall in love with it. I get giddy from the promise of a potential back log of books to catch up on. After reading a review from a trusted friend that contained lots of things that crank my chain, I was willing to try this one out, and I was not disappointed.
The premise: David is getting out of a five-year relationship with a cheating asshole. He buys a lovely home in the neighborhood he grew up in, on impulse since he needs a new place to live fast. The house that he didn’t have inspected winds up having a bit more of a “fixer-upper” quality to it than he originally guessed. His mother recommends a handyman, Jackson, to him, and one look at this sexy man makes David a little breathless. Not that David is ready to go there or anywhere, for that matter. He is just getting out of a nightmare relationship that is the gift that keeps on giving. Jackson is damn near perfect, tbh. He skated the edge of “too perfect” for me, but it never made me roll my eyes. It never crossed that line. He moved to the town to take care of his mother, who has MS, even though his two siblings live in the town and aren’t very helpful.
The crown jewel that made me ADORE this story was the relationship-build. There’s no insta-love. It’s a slow burn that totally worked. David and Jackson smoothly go from handyman/client to friends to lovers. And once they get going, they light the sheets on fire!
Told exclusively from David’s POV, we see no lack of character development from Jackson or the group of secondary characters I’ll refer to as the “core group” of this book. Gil, Michael, Manny, Vernon, the moms, and David’s sister were delightful, realistic, and fleshed out well. The author sets up the possibility for a series with the other men I mentioned, and I am crossing my fingers and wishing hard!!!
This book was all about the relationship. There are side plots – the ex fuckwad in particular – along with a strong family component, as Jackson’s mom’s illness affects many of them due to their close relationship with him. But overwhelmingly, you will get to see a beautiful relationship blossom from start to HEA. (I never got the chance to date as an adult, so reading romance lets me get a small “fictional” glimpse into the adult dating game. THIS relationship development is an example of how I’d imagine many people would want to meet the one.)
And their first kiss? Holy hell, was that the perfect first kiss! Sexy and sweet as fuck.
There is one niggle I had with this book, and I can’t not mention it because I felt it glaring at me with repeated digs. It in no way affected my rating of this book because I loved it THAT much, but I’ll share that if other books by this author have the same thing, it will begin to affect my ratings and has the potential, depending on the degree, to sour me from this author.
Especially within this community, but with all people in general, there shouldn’t be stereotyping. No one should paint everyone within a group with the brush of one. Combine stereotyping with politics, which I hate and tend not to follow, and I got a little miffed. I’ll show you what I mean.
The overwhelming majority of characters in this book outside of the “core group” I mentioned above, and there were a lot of characters in this book, were all –
Assholes who were straight.
Assholes who were straight Republicans.
I avoid politics in general, but I wouldn’t label myself as Democrat or Republican. I’m somewhere in the middle of the Right Wing/Left Wing scale….moderate I think a lot of people call it? I hate labels within politics, but you get the gist of where I land. I digress. Anyway, people are people. We are diverse and I try very hard not to put people in boxes. When it comes to Democrats – if you’ve met one Democrat, guess what? You’ve met ONE Democrat. The same holds true for Republicans. The scale of Left and Right and Middle is so vast. Where am I going with this? Bare with me.
There was a lot of shaming in this book. I found both straight shaming and Republican shaming. More Republican shaming, and enough to make me uncomfortable. Here are some examples:
Exhibit A: Gil’s siblings are described as money-hungry vultures just waiting for the remaining parent to die so they can get their inheritances. Ok, people can be like that. It ain’t pretty, I know. But this:
“Were they jerks or something?” David asked. Jackson snorted softly. “You could say that. His brother has a Ted Cruz bumper sticker on his Beamer.”
Exhibit B: David meets Jackson’s sister-in-law in the ER waiting room. She asks him, in Jackson’s absence, if he and Jackson are friends. Since this is during their “friends” stage of development, he lets her know they’re recent acquaintances. “Why are you here with Jackson if you aren’t…dating?” Valid question. Recent acquaintances don’t tend to wait in ERs while said acquaintance cares for his mother. But David’s internal dialogue?
He loved the way straight people felt the need to use euphemisms with gay men. Clearly what she meant was “if you aren’t screwing.”
What does that question have to do with gay/straight? I don’t get it. I think it was a tactful question from a near-stranger. And maybe she honestly meant dating instead of screwing……because it would be the behavior of someone you’re dating over someone you’re screwing to be in an ER waiting room while you’re with your mother!
Exhibit C: While Jackson and David talk after David meets Jackson’s brother for the first time, this little convo took place:
“I gather he’s not a Democrat.” […] “I’m betting he doesn’t do pro bono work for indigent clients.” […]”Dad was a lawyer, specializing in corporate law, and a fire-breathing Republican.”
Fire-breathing Republican, huh? Yes, clearly ALL Republicans are evil in this author’s mind. And anyone who doesn’t do free work for indigent people, are they automatic assholes? I’m a little fuzzy on what that comment meant, but I’m not getting warm feelings about it. And does she believe there are no Republicans who would do pro bono work for indigents?
None of the above sat well with me. One of the comments would’ve made me pause, but all of them? I’m not liking what this author is painting through her stereotyping and downright shaming. I love my friends’ and family’s diversity, including their incredibly varied political beliefs, even when I don’t agree on one or more of the issues. But there is no way you can put all Democrats in one box or all Republicans in one. It’s unjust and unfair.
Ok, I’m off my soapbox now. The above was such a small part of this book that it didn’t take away from the absolute beauty of David and Jackson’s story. So, like I said, my rating was not affected by it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves MM romance! But I can’t lie and will say that for my reading tastes, I hope Copland leaves the stereotyping at the door in her other books. Which I will be reading!