Title: On Davis Row
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Self-Published/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 330 Pages
At a Glance: On Davis Row is a rich love story, a redemptive tale, and a hard fought happy-ever-after all rolled into one beautiful story that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.
Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.
Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they’re not that different at all.
Review: I’m not sure how impartial this review can actually be when I will have to begin by admitting I’ve fallen in love with not one but both of the main characters in this story. I am fairly certain I want to wrap CJ up in my arms, feed him and take care of both him and Noah. Yes, this new novel, On Davis Row by N.R. Walker, is a bit altruistic and far-fetched in terms of the claims on its last few pages, but the story to that point is all about slogging through the fairly intense backstory of two incredibly likeable men who have been dealt a really lousy hand in life thus far.
CJ’s life is a study in how people perceive us, by those we either opt to, or are unfortunate enough to, surround ourselves with despite being nothing like them. Coming from a family of criminals who have very little good to recommend them, CJ is trapped in a life that is just a bit of hell on earth. Trying to care for his ailing uncle, the only member of the family who is worth anything and who loves CJ to bits, he gets caught stealing medicine for him. Because it is a first offense, he escapes actual jail time but is on probation for two years, during which time he must keep his nose clean or else face prison.
Toward the end of that probation, CJ gets a new parole officer, one Noah Huxley. Still wet-behind-the-ears but determined to save his clients, Noah jumps into CJ’s life with both feet, only to hit the wall CJ has erected around his heart and emotions. Noah himself has had a rather traumatic life to this point, and his desire to help others reclaim their lives after making bad decisions is more personal than meets the eye. Slowly, Noah chips away at CJ’s defenses and discovers a man who has been unjustly accused and written off by most because of a violent family that has done nothing but abuse CJ most of his life.
Now, the two men tentatively begin to work together to get CJ the licensure he needs to make something of himself and begin an actual career that will drag him from the poverty he has been strapped to most of his life. But, as fate would have it, CJ’s father is out of prison and back home, where his penchant for violence and abuse is like a boiling pot ready to erupt. To further complicate matters, Noah and CJ are attracted to one another, but determined to hold off following through until CJ’s probation is ended—a mere few weeks into the future. The real question is, can CJ continue to hide both the fact that he is gay and the steps he’s taking to secure a better future from an alcoholic, violent father who is bent on seeing his son fail?
For fear of repeating myself, I really loved these two men. CJ simply broke my heart in so many ways. His life, his inability to read, his embarrassment over the same, and his devotion to his uncle all melded together to make him an incredibly complex and sad figure. Yet, his anger, his drive, his endurance all spoke of someone not to be pitied but rather to be cherished, and that’s exactly what Noah did. CJ was the proverbial phoenix who rose time after time from the ashes of a broken and violent past to cling to what little piece of life he could have. His father was hideous, and the fact that CJ fought against the fear that had ruled their relationship, till even now that he was grown up, was just wrenching to read about.
While Noah was a bit of a Pollyanna, he was so determined to be effective in his job that it made up for it in the end. In a field where the jaded and burned out seem to take a front seat, he sweeps into the parole offices like a tsunami, undaunted by the sarcasm and disdain of his fellow officers. His character comes off as genuine and caring—all the things CJ is loath to trust but needs desperately. Theirs is a slow burning romance with little actual intimacy until near the end of the story, and, in my opinion, that was just perfect. Anything more, even the two guys cheating on their resolve due to their intense desire for each other, would have cheapened the story overall. Instead, we get to really know these two characters from the inside out, and their story becomes a part of you, emotionally investing the reader into the rise and fall of action, and forcing us to anxiously read on despite the sense that doom was right around the corner (thankfully, it was not).
On Davis Row exemplifies what this author does best—create real men who live imperfect lives but continue persevering despite the odds. It’s a rich love story, a redemptive tale, and a hard fought happy-ever-after all rolled into one beautiful story that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
You can buy On Davis Row here: