Review: In the Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish

Blurb:

cover-roanparrish-inthemiddleofsomewhereDaniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.


Stats:

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Dates read:
Edition read:
July 10, 2015
Dreamspinner Press
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
350 e-book pages
1st person
Middle of Somewhere, book 1
February 24-25, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

Why, oh why, did I put this book off for as long as I did?

I DON’T KNOW!

Alrighty, a quick few things before a few other things.

This is written in first person present tense. Normally I find that weird. Super creepy weird. Like the MC automatically thinks we’re pals and I’m all noooo just get on with telling me a story and leave me out of it. BUT! But here, in this book, it didn’t feel like that. By about chapter two I did feel like Daniel and I were pals. Or maybe I was the long-lost big sister who wanted to simultaneously hug him and shake him. Here, the POV and tense had an authentic, raw, unfiltered honesty that I found absolutely captivating and I didn’t mind that fourth wall being an ultra sheer curtain.

This is Roan Parrish’s first published work and an incredible debut it is!

But, there were a few technicalities where I feel she’s got some room to grow — or a stronger hand in editing would have been a big help.

The sex scenes felt a tad overly choreographed, and one in particular (involving a massage) I had to read four times because I could not figure out the logistics and movement of the characters–I still can’t. Others felt overly technically written with way to much detail about what every body part was doing. Sex should read as fluid, organic, emotional, pounding fun–not textbook. Otherwise, fresh and scorching!

Then there were some issues with repetition of uhs, ums, likes, I means, etc. Part of me thinks this is a purposeful product of the POV and tense. Unfortunately, many people speak in this unfiltered manner and have horrible stalling habits that don’t do much but make the speaker sound…less smart or distracted. Daniel is a college professor with a doctorate–we need him to sound as smart as he obviously is instead of like he’s projecting the age of the college kids he’s teaching. Rex did this too, and I didn’t like it on him either.

Back to the sex, there’s a lot of repetition with fluttering, pulsing channels. And this just squicks me out when I can’t for the life of me think of anything else that squicks me about sex. I think it’s the word channel. I live around a lot of water, in a huge Naval and shipping/boating/fishing area. For me, it’s more of a nautical term than anatomical. Or I think English Channel then Chunnel–the awesome feat of engineering a high-speed train tunnel from London to Paris that I’ve had the pleasure to ride. So then add buttsex in with that and my brain goes to some very disturbing places. I can’t help it! And I don’t like the visual of all the fluttering…because then I think of butterflies, and that seems sooo wrong.

I’m weird. I know I’m weird.

I just wish there had been more variety with the sex words.

Daniel has a lot of flashbacks that he shares introspectively and in rambling dialogue. I’ll say I enjoyed only most of them. Partly they’re ways for Daniel to figure out why he’s the way he is, and it gives the reader the extra foundational knowledge we wouldn’t get otherwise. Sometimes they’re offered up because Daniel tends to ramble when he’s nervous. The first kind came very close to being overdone.

All that was minor for me, really minor in the grand scheme of things. And now that it’s out of my system…

I FREAKING LOVED THIS!

This is long. I like long books. Especially when there’s a good pace and lots going on. The time span felt a bit longer than it actually was, so what felt relatively slow-burn in the get-to-know-each-other department was quite a fast timeline. This did not bother me a bit.

I loved the quiet, gentle giant Rex and greedily wanted to get in his head. He’s just awesome though in his quiet, nervous ways. And no wonder he gets tongue tied and twisted around Daniel.

Daniel is hardened by life in a wack-job of a family who don’t get him, don’t try to, and would rather drink beer, watch sports, cuss at the television, and mess with greasy car parts. He’s so different from them he’s excluded from the family fold. He’s a Philly kid with a smart mouth, and a street-wise chip on his shoulder who finds his first real job in a near-on Norman Rockwell sort of small town in Michigan that is far beyond his realm of comprehension.

We’re on this journey with him, at his side, while he figures out his place in life and where he belongs. He’s got a cool way of looking at the world that’s innocent in some ways, cynical in others, and it turns out he doesn’t know a whole lot about himself.

He and Rex are both gorgeously flawed, a little damaged, and, therefore, each hesitant in this new relationship for their own reasons–with Daniel especially wary of any sort of intimacy. I found it totally endearing as they found their way.

There’s lots of humor of the snark variety, some that’s introspective, some that’s out loud in its glory. Some that’s offered up by some fantastic secondary characters–especially Daniel’s BFF, Ginger. LOVED HER! In fact, I think she’s near the top of my list of all-time favorite BFF side characters.

All in all, I felt like I was hanging out with friends and was therefore heavily invested during some ups and downs. I didn’t expect that, so it was a nice surprise, mostly–except when my gut clenched and tears came. Even then, I wanted to fold Daniel up in my arms.

Book two is nearly here. I’m scared. Excited…but scared.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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