Title: Twice in a Lifetime (Sutter’s Bay #2)
Author: Shawn Lane
Publisher: JMS Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel 28k words (121 PDF pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: A sweet, heart warming romance proving that sometimes we do get a second chance at love.
Five years ago, British transplant, Jude, left San Francisco after the tragic murder of his lover, Martin. Heartbroken, he settled in Sutter’s Bay and opened a small flower shop, hoping that surrounding himself with bright colors and pretty things—living things—would somehow lessen the anguish he felt over his loss.
Jude never expects to find a love like he shared with Martin ever again. Certainly a love like theirs won’t come along twice in a lifetime. But then Jude meets sexy Rex Warner, the new veterinarian in Sutter’s Bay, and he can’t help but wonder if his luck has changed.
Will Rex be able to stop Jude from dwelling on the painful past and look toward a promising future instead?
Jude had found his one true love in Martin. Although a very unlikely pair, Jude with his ever changing hair color, piercings, eyeliner and lip gloss, and Martin the older, clean cut, sophisticated cardiologist, somehow just worked well together. Then just when things were going so well – Martin had asked Jude to move in – tragedy strikes and Martin is senselessly murdered. Traumatized after witnessing the murder, Jude needed to get away from San Francisco and moved to the sleepy small town of Sutter’s Bay. But unfortunately, Jude can’t run from his demons.
When the story opens, Jude has already been living in Sutter’s Bay for 5 years and runs the town florist shop. Although there are some gay men in town, he had only gone out on one brief coffee date, which didn’t work out. Jude prefers to head out of town for one nighters that don’t ask questions and don’t risk his heart again. Then in wanders the new town veterinarian, sexy Texan Rex (I love to say that!), in his cowboy hat and boots. Who would not notice him in a sleepy northern California town? Although outwardly Jude and Rex seem like another mismatch, they have good chemistry. Jude struggles with his attraction to Rex and has to work through his grief and guilt over Martin’s death in order to build something new.
With a blurb and story set up like the one above for Twice in a Lifetime, I would expect an angst filled tear jerker. Happily that is not the case. Although Jude is dealing with the heartbreak of losing Martin so tragically – causing some angst, the story has a much more positive spin and is focused on his healing. I really enjoyed watching Rex gently woo Jude and liked how he was very patient with him as Jude works through his issues. He never complained about how frequently Jude talks about Martin – and he does – a lot. It was heart warming to see Jude slowly open up to this second chance for love.
The characters of Jude and Rex are both interesting, although Jude is far more well developed than Rex. I think this is mostly due to the focus of the story being on Jude’s tragic past and his healing process, but it did leave Rex feeling a little uninteresting. For one thing, Rex was a Texan, but I got no flavor of his Texan roots other than his cowboy boots and hat. I wasn’t expecting him to call everyone darlin’ or say y’all, but he could have been from Iowa for all I could tell. On that same theme, Jude was supposed to be a transplanted Englishman, but there were surprisingly few “British-isms” in his speech patterns. He used ‘arse’ once or twice, but that was just about the extent of it. I understand that speech patterns tend to fade over time – and perhaps that was the author’s intent, but I think it would have been a nice facet to the characters if they felt more Texan and British.
Although these issues don’t really ruin the story, they just made it less than it could have been. There are some interesting secondary characters in the small town folk that, although also not fully developed, they offer atmosphere for the story. Most notably of those are Jude’s hair stylist, his neighbors and the local cafe owner. Although Jude likes them, he does complain that they are all so nosy – and they are. But that helps Sutter’s Bay really feel like a small town.
Despite these issues, Twice in a Lifetime pleased the hopeless romantic inside and left me smiling.