According to Design (Southern Charm #6) by Nicole Dennis #mm #review @PridePublishing


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Amid turmoil and triumph, two men weave through all the colors of life to find one another.

As construction on the Charm wraps up, multi-media artist Wyatt McBride creates special metal and glass designs to add the finishing touches. When his brother accepts an overseas military duty, he takes in his teenage nephew, Collin. Things are already upside down since he’s lost a dear friend to AIDS, and now he has to deal with teenage angst and losing his heart to a brilliant but shy teacher.

To keep his mind out of the past, Keegan Donaghue comes to Shore Breeze to take a position as a high-school science teacher and part-time forensics detective for the sheriff’s department. A special student connects him to the local artist, but he’s still running from his past. Addiction and abuse remain there, lurking in his mind, along with mild PTSD-induced panic attacks. Cryptic, troubling emails from his ex-boyfriend don’t help the situation either.

Shy of relationships and opening their hearts to trust, these two men learn to weave their lives together during the trials of daily life. Neither one expects everything to go according to fate.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes involving PTSD, as well as the discussion of, and flashbacks to, domestic violence and drug addiction. There is a scene of assault involving homophobic slurs, a scene of violence and attempted kidnap, as well as a very brief reference to rape.addtogoodreads_zps55cd15da14ruth-tag

This book is part of the Southern Charm series set around the small town of Shore Breeze, FL.  This book is my first time reading either the author or the series, but I love series set around pretty small towns, so I began this book with a lot of anticipation. In terms of a unique setting and sympathetic, memorable characters, it delivered. The town and the people in it were the best parts of the book.  The love story between Wyatt and Keegan is sweet.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book did not live up to its potential, in my opinion. Overall, I feel like potential is the buzzword for this book. The bones of what could have been a very good story are there, but it could have used a lot of editing. The description is very heavy-handed, at times bordering on preachy, especially concerning one of Wyatt’s friends who died of AIDS. The dialogue is formal. It doesn’t read like people talk, and sometimes I wondered if the author was engineering dialogue just to show off vocabulary. There are so many tragic things that happen to people in this book that it bordered on the edges of being unbelievable. There are at least four different plot lines that the author explores in this book. That’s not impossible. I’ve read books that did it and did it well. This book wasn’t one of them. Things kept happening one after another after another, and toward the end, I found myself wondering if it was ever going to end.

There are several unique plot twists. Normally, this would be a good thing. I like books that I can’t figure out and that keep me guessing. However, this author seems to have the unfortunate tendency to introduce twists without anything to support them happening. For instance, the couple goes from agreeing they aren’t ready to have sex to having sex against doctor’s orders with absolutely no transition to explain the change. There is literally one sentence where Keegan decides he’s tired of following doctor’s orders and Wyatt goes along without the slightest question, even though it had been less than 24 hours since they had been advised against doing so for the weekend. There are several other transitions that happen abruptly as well.

I had hoped I would enjoy this book, but except for really liking some of the characters, chiefly, the main characters, Keegan and Wyatt, and Wyatt’s nephew Colin, there was just too much that needed work for me to truly enjoy it. threestars

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