Title: Sam’s Reviews
Author: Jan Irving
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Buy Links: Buy Link Amazon, Publisher
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Novel (146 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by J.K. Hogan
Review Summary: A heartwarming story about making your own family—with a little sexy and a little mysterious on the side!
When Sam Masterson, a former marine in a wheelchair, clashes with Tall Hollander, he doesn’t expect the sexy architect to reawaken him as a man.
Sam Masterson owns a building where a lot of misfits make a home. When his working class neighbourhood comes under pressure because of a shiny new development, he heads uptown to speak his mind to the man behind the gentrification. Architect Tall Hollander is not what he expects—slinky and up front about finding Sam hot.
But before he can risk his heart, Sam has to be a hero again. For his nephew, who needs him to step up, and for his residents, who are sorely in need of his skills as a warrior to protect them from the brutal thief known as The Bruiser…
This was a really satisfying read for me. It was somewhere in the happy medium between the super angsty and the sugary sweet. It had just the right amount of conflict so that it wasn’t irritatingly happy, but it also wasn’t painful to get through. There were great secondary characters, a little mystery, and some light D/s.
Sam is an ex-marine who was injured in a land mine explosion in Afghanistan. We never quite figure out exactly what his injury is, just that he is permanently in a wheelchair. He doesn’t have use of his legs but apparently does have some feeling and use of other parts below the waist. I did kind of feel like that needed to be explained a bit more.
I loved the idea of a disabled MC, especially a war vet. It was so interesting to follow Sam’s journey as he struggled to believe that others may still find him attractive. I also liked that he wasn’t somehow magically cured in the story, has happens a lot in romance when one of the MC’s has a flaw that makes things less than perfect. Sam and Tall work around his disability rather than fix it, so much so that it almost doesn’t seem to slow them down much.
The light D/s play seemed to be good for Sam because it allowed him to take back some of the control he lost by being in the wheelchair. While it didn’t bother me one bit, I did feel like it should have been mentioned in the blurb, as it may not be some people’s cup of tea. It really worked with the story, though.
Tall (Trevor) is the architect of a building that is going up in Sam’s Aunt Audra’s broken down neighborhood. He meets Sam when Sam comes in to complain about damage done to Audra’s building. Tall seems instantly attracted to Sam, while Sam thinks he couldn’t be attractive to someone in his chair. Others thought theirs was a case of insta-love but I didn’t get that vibe at all. Just insta-lust which is more believable.
I didn’t really understand why Sam gave Tall a nickname almost immediately, but I hate the name Trevor, so it didn’t bother me at all.
Tall is quickly drawn into Sam’s world: his aunt in the hospital after a brutal beating, his poor nephew left with no one but Sam to care for him, and Sam having been fished out from living on the streets.
Sam’s sketchy background between his injury and the period when the story starts is briefly hinted at, but I think it should have been explored in more depth. It felt like it was an important part of his character development but we never got the whole story. There was also absolutely no backstory on Tall. These two things are the main reasons this was not a 5 star for me.
There were a couple of interesting side plots other than the romance. There was the person who had attacked Audra and vandalized her building, along with other small acts of mischief. There was the relationship between Sam and his nephew Joe, which was pretty well done. They didn’t instantly become ‘family’ but there wasn’t too much angst with them getting to know each other. Also, there was the fact that Sam was a romance writer and we got to read snippets of one of his stories. His book had a Master/slave dynamic that sort of mirrored what he and Tall had going.
Their romance itself was very easy-going. There wasn’t a whole lot of conflict between the two of them, but I felt that that was okay, because they had enough to deal with between Joe, Audra, and Sam’s disability. The book wasn’t stuffed with gratuitous sex scenes, which I think was the right way to handle this particular story, but the ones that were there were nicely done.
The culmination of the mystery of Audra’s attacker was wrapped up pretty quickly in the end, but it led up to a very satisfying HEA, wrapped up in nice little Christmas bow. This book would make a great beach read—not too much angst, not too much fluff!
NOTE: I didn’t realize until it was too late that a previous version of this book released by another publisher was reviewed by Feliz in December 2010. I don’t know how different both versions are but I’ve linked Feliz’s review..