Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston
And then there were Matt Berridge and Tim Knight and a cat named Wolverine who’s really the star of the show but deigns to allow his insignificant humans to share his space if for nothing more than the fact that they feed him. And, if he’s being honest, those conveniently placed bipeds truly are the chattier set-pieces for us readers to enjoy while Wolverine is between scenes, so there’s that too. What can I say? The cat has personality.
Watching Matt and Tim’s evolution was a little bit like watching two people slow dancing to the same tune at different rhythms. They danced around each other but not with each other for quite a long time, moving to a similar song—one called Denial; Tim to the denial of his sexuality, Matt to the denial of his own self-worth. It’s not until they both find the courage and the strength to be honest with themselves, and with each other, that they are able to come together in perfect syncopation and dance to a love song of their own making.
Once again, Hard Tail was peopled with a delightful cast of characters, this time playing against the sport of cycling, the family dynamics of a favored son and the spare who doesn’t seem to quite measure up, a failed marriage, and a hypocritical, bullying bastard of a boyfriend who learns the hard way that he should be a bit more selective with whom he decides to pick a fight.
In much the same way that I loved Al and Larry in Muscling Through, I loved Matt and Tim to bits; Matt for his kindness and klutziness and sweet simplicity; Tim for his courage to face his fears, to come out of the closet and to be with and to fight for the man he loves in spite of there being a bit of a false start. And in much the same fashion as all the other JL Merrow books I’ve read so far, the humor was pitch-perfect. I’m also noticing a slightly inconvenient pattern in these books ending well before I’m ready for them to.
If you’ve read Pricks and Pragmatism be sure to watch for a quick little cameo from Luke and Russell. Then you can thank Russell for being his wonderful self. I did.