Title: Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs #2)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Gay Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A warm, beautiful and slow-building romance between an art teacher and a tattoo-artist-turned-line-cook.
The Blurb: Looking to the future begins with forgiving the past.
Cost of Repairs, Book 2
Barrett McCall once lived like there was no tomorrow. Now the reformed party animal savors each day as a gift. His short order cook job at Dixie’s Cup pays the rent, and he’s content with his sober—if solitary—life.
When a fire leaves him homeless, Dixie’s offer to let him move into her basement apartment puts him on a collision course with her nephew, art teacher Schuyler Rhodes. The heat between them crackles, but in Schuyler’s eyes Barrett recognizes the same demons he exorcised long ago.
Dixie’s kind-hearted offer couldn’t come at a worse time for Schuyler. It’s the anniversary of his teenage cousin Matty’s drowning. Everyone believes it was an accident, but Schuyler knows the truth—and so does the culprit. For fifteen years that truth has burned a hole in his soul…and now it keeps Barrett at arm’s length.
One lingering kiss melts away the barriers between them, but when the other witness to Matty’s death shows up in town, Schuyler is forced into a confrontation that could cost him Barrett’s love—and possibly his own life.
(Publisher’s ) Product Warnings
Contains a hot man-on-man romance between a slightly uptight art teacher and a free-spirited tattoo-artist-turned-line-cook, a bucket of guilt sprinkled on top of past regrets, and the improper use of bamboo kabob skewers.
Cost of Repairs Series
This is the second instalment in this author’s Cost of Repairs series (I reviewed the first book here), and although the two books share some common elements (like the location and some of the cast) Color of Grace could be read as a standalone-though for full enjoyment I’d advise against doing so.
Art teacher Schuyler “Sky” Rhodes is the nephew of Dixie from Dixie’s Cup, a diner in Stratton, Pennsylvania. Nephew and aunt are close; Sky and his father used to live in Dixie’s basement apartment until his father died. Now, a new tenant has moved into Dixie’s basement: Barrett McCall, short order cook at Dixie’s Cup, whom a house fire has left homeless.
Inevitably, Sky and Barrett cross paths quite often, and soon a decidedly erotically charged friendship develops between the two, particularly after Sky introduces Barrett to people and helps the newcomer make friends. But both men keep past secrets that might pose serious obstacles to their budding relationship.
I’ve been a Sky fan from the time I first met him as Rey from Cost of Repair’s ex-boyfriend. He was quite standoffish then, and struck me as prone to brooding. Here, I learned the reason for that. Sky keeps a dark secret concerning his cousin Matty’s dead– a secret that is a source of constant guilt for him and makes him doubt his self-worth.
Barrett also struggles with low self-esteem and guilt, but unlike Sky, Barrett started working at his issues already and apparently, he did a good job about it. So he knows what Sky is going through; Barrett can understand Sky on a deeper level, although he doesn’t feel prepared to help Sky with his own wounds barely healed. But as the attraction and affection between them grows, Barrett finds himself holding out a hand to Sky. Question is, will Sky take it or push it away?
As with the first book,the writing was intense and skillful, the sex scenes hot, and the relationship realistic both in characterization and in building pace. I really liked both main characters, particularly Barrett, the one who’d hit rock bottom more than once and always fought his way back up.And it was nice to meet Sam and Rey from Cost of Repairs again and to get a glimpse into their relationship a little more down the line.
Though unlike the first book, I had a few problems with the plot here, as well as with characterization, particularly of the bad guy. I thought him a walking cliché, as exaggerated as he was.
The mystery that is part of the plot wasn’t much of one, with the villain so obvious and the solution not overly hard to guess. However, there’s a very good, fast paced action scene involved, so I won’t complain too loudly.
All in all, this was a well-written, enjoyable book with depth and humor and likable, interesting characters. I can recommend it.