Title: Half of the Other
Author: Joanne Kells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Charlie Matherson really doesn’t have a clue how to go about telling his friend Tom Harris that he’s gay. What makes matters worse is that Charlie’s been head over heels in love with Tom for more than a year. Finally, at a Christmas party, Charlie throws caution to the wind—and gives Tom a long, intensely hot kiss. Was it sheer desperation, stupidity, or both? Charlie’s sure he’s really made a mess of their friendship. But has he?
This British set novella begins the morning after the office Christmas party. Charlie, who works for his Mother’s advertising firm creating images for adverts, wakes up with a blinding hangover and a feeling of intense mortification as he recalls coming onto his friend and fellow work colleague, Tom, who he’s had a crush on for a year. Charlie spends the day trying to avoid Tom but is excited when Tom texts Charlie to tell him that he has got a surprise for him at the end of the day.
How much you enjoy this book will depend on your opinion of a book which is written in the 1st person present tense. I don’t mind 1st person narration and I also find that, after a few pages or so, I can usually manage to get into the swing of present tense so that I stop noticing it. You would think then, that I would have wholeheartedly enjoyed this book, especially as it contains a friends to lovers plot which I’m generally quite fond of. Unfortunately, I also think that how much you enjoy this book is very dependant on your opinion of Charlie, and I found him rather annoying.
Charlie is highly excitable, nervy and self-depreciating. Whilst I was reading the book it occurred to me that he was a bit like a British Woody Allen with ADD who had consumed too much espresso (and I have to admit, I’m not the greatest fan of Woody Allen). His mind flits about from one thought to another, always returning to Tom and the fact that he’s made a fool of himself or to how he wants to jump Tom and stick his tongue down his throat. After a couple of pages of being in Charlie’s head I was starting to develop a headache just keeping up with the random swinging of his thoughts. His mind is so full of worries and constant humiliation over how he behaved that he seems to have lost the ability to function normally, nearly blowing an important presentation. I can see how some readers might find Charlie very funny and enjoy watching him making a fool of himself. Unfortunately I found him tedious and irritating and wanted to shake some sense into him on several occasions. It wasn’t until much later in the story, when he calmed down a bit, that I began to warm to him at all.
Because Charlie’s thoughts and actions are so consumed by himself, it made it difficult to really get a feel for the other characters. Tom seemed nice enough, even if he was just as confused by everything as Charlie was and he also made quite a large error in judgement. The only other main character was Charlie’s Mum who, to be honest, stole the whole book from under Charlie’s nose in a couple of short, but very amusing, scenes.
About two thirds of the way through the book something happens to Charlie (I won’t go into details as that would be a bit of a spoiler) but after that point Charlie seems a lot calmer and happier and as a result I found myself able to identify with him more. I really enjoyed this last section as the two men cope with being with one another and developing their relationship. I found myself quite charmed by the ending and pleased that the two men get their HEA.
Overall, as you can tell I had pretty mixed feelings about this novella. I really do think that some readers will like Charlie as he is the sort of character who will appeal to those of you who have the sort of sense of humour where you derive pleasure from people getting into embarrassing scrapes. I don’t, so I can’t wholly recommend Half of the Other. However, the ending showed me that the author does write well and I intend to read more books by this author in future.