* * * 1/2
Paul 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. This title is part of the Tucker Springs universe.
As some of you may know, the three of us were lucky enough to be able to attend the Romantic Times Convention last week. We had an amazing time and will hopefully post about it here soon. The publishers, authors and organizers of the convention were humbling in their generosity. But the thing that stood out for me the most…the thing that started out our long weekend with a bang…was the book that I found in my RT tote. The tote that is given to ALL attendees once they pick up their badge. I opened this tote to see what goodies I would find and found Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton staring me in the face. I am a huge fan of m/m romance but it's not main stream as I hope it will be soon. So the fact that Romantic Times Magazine and Riptide Publishing put this novel in the hands of ALL the RT attendees absolutely warmed my heart.
What is a girl to do when handed her favorite type of romance written by two authors she has been dying to read? Maybe take every spare minute she has during RT (there aren’t many – they keep you busy) and on the ride home to devour said book and swoon over the darling heroes? Of course that’s what I did!
Paul is clueless. Or as El, owner of the Tucker Pawn, described him after first meeting him, “perpetually confused.” His girlfriend left him two months ago yet he still thinks he could win her back. If he finds her just the right present for her birthday, she might come home. But when you make next to nothing and have more expenses than you care to admit, the neighborhood pawn shop is the only option. So off Paul goes to find jewelry to win back his girl. He finds the jewelry but, not surprisingly, he doesn’t win back the girl. Paul finally gets angry over his failed relationship and begins to de-clutter his home by getting rid of all the unnecessary things he owns because of Stacey.
Tucker Pawn owner, El Rozal, is immediately intrigued by Paul. There is something about Paul’s simplicity and kindness that El finds immensely appealing. So much so that El convinces Paul to visit the pawn shop every day by saying he can only buy one thing per customer, per day. Never mind the fact that it’s a lie. And never mind the fact that Paul is straight.
So Paul visits the pawn shop everyday. And everyday El buys an appliance that he will never be able to sell so that Paul will come back. Those daily visits create a friendship and bond that is guaranteed to turn both of their lives upside down.
This story was stinkin’ adorable. AND hot. But mostly adorable. Paul’s insecurity is adorable. El’s smitten behavior is adorable. El is HOT. The dog is adorable. Paul’s cluelessness is adorable. Paul and El together? Hot and adorable.
I think you get the idea.
I love forever boys. I love stories that first create a friendship and then build it into something more. I love comfort reads. For me this was all three of those things. This is one that I will be picking up to re-read on a rainy day.
Or better yet, maybe I will re-read it on a sunny day. When I am lounging by the pool as my kids play. And the mom or dad next to me will say, “What are you reading?” and I’ll reply, “A lovely story about these two men that fall in love.” And he/she will say, “Oh cool. I love romance. Can I borrow it?”
I like to think that if RT can provide this book to everyone at their convention then the above conversation can definitely happen in the very near future.