Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
What a curious, quiet little book. I don’t think that impression is accidental, either. Garner Hayes (whose surname you don’t learn until the end of the book) is a young, college-educated man, working in an unnamed city as a waiter in an upscale Italian restaurant. He takes pride in his work, particularly in the way his intuition helps him make his customers’ dining experience the best it can be. On the other hand, Garner likes his job because it also allows him to control and limit his direct engagement with other people. He can keep his professional distance, and thus maintain an odd, self-imposed isolation that seems to be at the center of his life. Although he has a few friends, and likes his workmates, he spends most of his time alone, either in his apartment reading or walking the city streets at night after his shift at the restaurant ends.
Then he becomes aware of a beautiful dark-haired man who has become a regular at the restaurant, and who always requests to sit in Garner’s section. From that moment, in strange subtle ways, everything begins to change.
In careful, almost clipped language, the author gives us a very vivid sense of Garner, content with his lot in life, but somehow dissatisfied. Not unhappy, but not quite happy. There is a good bit of rather nice philosophizing about happiness and what it means; but this is really a set-up to gradually reveal Garner’s own life, and experiences in his past that have clearly traumatized him in ways he has never understood, or even looked at.
I’m not sure what you do with a character who appears to be paranormal, but asserts plainly that he—and others like him—are not supernatural, just variants of nature. The point of this narrative oddity is to let the author further explore Garner’s emotions, which are not the same as his feelings—something he himself begins to understand as the story unrolls. Garner, who has always accepted himself as “nothing special,” begins to see that he might be wrong.
The author describes himself as someone who has lived life at the intersection of Head and Heart—an assertion I can understand. That’s why I readily embraced the book’s low-key quirky manner. It did seem odd to me that the author made a great effort toward the end of the book to finally shed light on Garner’s childhood. It was well handled, but felt rather late in the game. That all becomes clear when the book ends in an abrupt cliffhanger in what is obviously the middle of a much longer story.
“To be continued.” And only then did I look at the cover and realize that this is book 1 of a series.
Well, I do want to know how it all turns out, but I also have to note that the short attention span of contemporary romance readers is frustrating. I guess I’ll have to wait until book 2 appears, but I’m not happy about it.