Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clarity of Lines Review

Blurb: Sometimes it’s not the two people in a relationship who fight falling in love, sometimes it’s those who love us that fight against it the most.

Finally together, forty-four year old Tom, and twenty-two year old Cooper, are ready to show the world they’re together. They’ve established their relationship is worth it, and want to share it with their families.

Both men thought accepting the age difference was their adversity to overcome, and theirs alone.

Their loved ones, however, will prove them wrong.

For their families, lines are drawn and start blur. Through a series of events, life shakes Tom’s foundations, the lines for him have never been clearer.

Reviewed by Trix

Review: 3 1/2 stars
As the second installment of the series, CLARITY OF LINES ramps up everything I liked (and disliked) about ELEMENTS OF RETROFIT. When I read the first book, the conflict didn't really ring true to me because Cooper and Thomas were so well-suited to each other. "What's wrong with Thomas falling for an intern twenty-two years his junior, who's close friends with his son?" I heard myself saying. "They're both such great guys, and they clearly want each other!" (Believe me, that's not my usual reaction to that scenario, which is a testament to NR Walker's ability to create sympathetic characters.) While the earlier book dealt with work-related conflicts of interest for the most part, the second book is all about family issues. Thomas finally has to introduce Cooper to his ex-wife Sofia (with whom he's not exactly on great terms) and his parents. The family issues seem more fraught and real here, but they're also harder to convey in such a short book. (Sofia in particular is drawn in rather broad strokes, although her motivations are understandable.) Cooper's place in this story is a little more thankless than in ELEMENTS OF RETROFIT: there he shines as a workplace prodigy (making him strangely equal to Thomas in spite of the fact that he's an employee), while here he's the good-guy boyfriend dealing with ungracious relatives and offering physical comfort to his unhappy man. (Even when Cooper is annoyed and Thomas is frustrated, they manage to cope with everything through plenty of sex, certainly more so than in the first book. The scenes are frequent and playful, but tend to be brief and not very graphic.) While I was surprised by the darker turn the story takes near the end, a family tragedy startles Cooper and Thomas into the emotional growth they seek, and this leads to a satisfying ending. 

While the story flows well, one editing issue got on my nerves. Since Walker is Australian and Totally Bound is based in the UK, the use of BritishEnglish makes sense. On the other hand, so much British slang crept in that the dialogue sometimes seemed unbelievable coming from American men. The locale doesn't affect the basic story (at least in these first two books), so I wish that Walker had been less specific, or chosen a setting where these expressions wouldn't detract from things.

So, should you read ELEMENTS OF RETROFIT first? I think it boils down to whether the series appeals to you in the first place. There is a fair amount of recapping done here, so you won't be lost if you begin with CLARITY OF LINES. Also, the setting and feel is very different from the earlier story. Then again, ELEMENTS OF RETROFIT, while a little more basic in plot, gives insight into Thomas's past and work life, and shows what a breath of fresh air Cooper is for him. (Of course, if you're an architecture buff, absolutely read the first one!) As for me, this installment sent me back to the earlier story, and has me looking forward to part three, SENSE OF PLACE.

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