Review: Second Hand (Tucker Springs, book 2) by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

The Blurb:

Cover-HeidiCullinan-SecondHandPaul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.

El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.

Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.

The Stats:

September 10, 2012
Riptide Publishing
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
194 e-book pages
1st & 3rd person
Series, book 2
Dates I read this:
Edition I read:
November 21, 2015
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

The Review:

⭐️⭐️.5 Stars

First, some business. This is book two of a series–what appears to be a collaborative effort of several authors contributing stories set in the same town. I haven’t read book one, and book two read just find as a stand-alone. There are currently seven books total in the series. It remains to be seen whether or not I’ll backtrack or continue…

Overall, this was a sweet story and mostly enjoyable, but not without some significant irritations.

I had some major problems connecting to Paul. His sense of self-worth is incredibly low and he lives his life largely oblivious to the social cues around him. I couldn’t figure out if he was simply naive, overly downtrodden, a simpleton—or generally TSTL. It was nerve wracking how long this went on, especially with his inner monologue he dubbed the “chipmunk.” WTF was that? With this character written in first person I thought I’d get enough in his head to sort him out in my mind, but not so much.

El…a somewhat relentless flirt, but anti-relationship, somewhat devil-may-care attitude toward happiness and love, was sexy and very kind as a loving brother, son, uncle and friend. He was a far more nuanced and interesting character, and far more likable. It wasn’t a secret that he had a huge crush on Paul—but honestly, with Paul’s simplicity, I couldn’t figure out the attraction beyond Paul’s geeky good looks (that El admitted wasn’t really his type). El’s thumb was up his ass entirely too long in making it clear to Paul what he wanted. Instead, he kept setting up ridiculous reasons for them to meet that didn’t exactly work in his favor because Paul didn’t have the capacity to clue in.

At 57%, El to his BFF Denver: “Nothing’s going to happen.”

This was also my concern…

This didn’t read as a slow-burn dance of flirtation and angst, rather a big old case of denial from both fellas. El because he’s stewing in anti-relationship juice. Paul because he couldn’t catch a hint—and even though it finally dawned on him he was attracted to El, he marinated in denial about being bi or possibly full-on gay. Unfortunately, in respect to the length of the book, these denials bogged down the pace.

Also, Paul’s thoughts and opinions on being gay and what that would mean for him were bothersome. My eyebrows were tangling with my hairline with some of his thoughts and the things he said out loud.

There’s a shrew of an ex-fiancé that Paul waffles around with for most of the book until he finally grows a pair of balls. That was a thing of glory…but way too late in my opinion. She’s quite obviously not meant to be likable, but her role as antagonist seemed a little over the top.

The real stars of this book, for me, were the dog MoJo, El’s BFF Denver, and the tattooed veterinarian Nick. I think I’ll be looking for Nick’s book because I’m a big sucker for tatted up heroes.

This review also posted on GoodReads and Amazon.

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