Title: Pieces of Me (Spectrum Nights: Book One)
Author: Melanie Hansen
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 242 Pages
At a Glance: Not at all what I had been expecting, this was not a light story and abuse themes are detailed, but I found myself engrossed in this passionate story, and am not-so-patiently awaiting the second book!
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Deep in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Scott Ashworth’s bleak life stretches out before him with not much hope for the future. His hardscrabble days are brightened by the arrival of a new stepbrother, Rylan Mahoney, who quickly becomes the friend Scott so desperately needs. Their relationship has just started to deepen into more, when during the course of one terrible night, what Scott overhears sends him fleeing from his home, never to return.
Flash forward six years, and Scott is now the hottest club host on the Phoenix gay scene. He takes what he wants, does what he wants, and does whom he wants. It’s a good life, but the journey to local popularity and fame wasn’t an easy one. For all that Scott’s looks are a blessing, at the same time they’re a curse—the source of his alcoholic mother’s inexplicable hatred.
Rylan dreams of photojournalistic glory. He’s in Phoenix looking for the story of a lifetime, but the project isn’t coming to fruition. Needing rent money, he accepts a gig at Phoenix Pride hawking lewd lollipops and edible condoms…all while wearing gold lamé hot pants and a matching bow tie. When Rylan’s house keys and street clothes go missing after his shift, he’s desperate, until a stranger in a convertible stops to help.
The man is absolute sex on legs, and Rylan is jolted when he recognizes him—his stepbrother Scott Ashworth, long missing but suddenly larger than life. Reunited after six years apart, Scott and Rylan are determined to put their past behind them, but fate intervenes and leaves their future in jeopardy once again.
Review: I’m going to throw this out there so there aren’t any surprises for those who don’t like them but… Holy cliffhanger, Batman! Yes, there is a cliffhanger and it left me chewing my nails, wailing, “Why isn’t the next book available?!?”
This is the start to what I hope will lead eventually to an epic HEA. Because after what I just read? I am cheering like a loon for Scott and Rylan. Even so, I readily admit this book will definitely not be for everyone. It’s tragic, heartbreaking and runs through a gamut of emotions I can barely even find appropriate superlatives to describe. There are happy moments, but for the most part both these young men are struggling, first as teenagers stuck in pretty abysmal situations, then as adults struggling to better themselves while carrying some pretty hefty baggage, which has molded them into a certain type of mentality and behaviors.
Oftentimes in stories, the reader jumps in when the two protagonists meet again and then learn through memories, and sometimes flashbacks, what happened. Not so in this book. The whole first chunk of the story is dedicated to giving a full understanding of the environment Scott and Rylan were raised in and what they went through. So, when they meet again as adults I was already able to understand the insecurities and emotional barriers that drive them both. I was horrified by so many things that happened and what growing up had been like for them. How irresponsible Heather and Bob often were in their decisions and actions. And Heather… ugh. I felt a lot about Heather. Seething rage comes to mind. Yet, a momentary insight to Heather’s past sort of explains some of it. Not making it okay, because I can’t even fathom saying what she did was okay, but allowing me to better understand her character, and giving her more depth. It also clearly outlines the effect of people’s decisions and subsequent actions and the domino effect which proves to be long lasting.
If I could use one word that seems to echo through my mind after reading this book: decisions. The decisions people make in the past and present really affect Scott and Rylan’s story.
Six years after Scott flees, a series of seemingly non-related events leads the two to meet again. It isn’t smooth sailing once their paths cross. They have both been through more during their time apart, and have grown in different ways. The six years of separation aren’t fully explained, and methinks the next installments is where we will be getting answers to many of the questions sparked by casual references made once the two reunite. I have a feeling it was pretty rough for both of them, and am both impatient to find out and fearful of what happened to them, what lasting effects there are of decisions made during that time.
I will caution a reader on this: the romance itself is only beginning; it is not fully developed; it is developing. There is a relationship with romantic elements, they have chemistry and tension for days, but there is a lot more they have to face before the romance can really come to fruition. Environmental, situational and psychological struggles are everywhere, for both of them—and they are nowhere near done with facing what life has thrown, and is throwing, at them. There are heartwarming moments sprinkled throughout, and even a few laughable moments, but make no mistake this book is more angst than not. Warm, happy feelings aren’t exactly what I would describe after finishing this first installment; more the feeling I just went through an emotional tornado and somehow survived, but wondering how Rylan and Scott did.
I was captivated through this entire story. It wasn’t easy at times to read, but sometimes I like that in a book—one that challenges my perceptions and forces me to see a different side of life that I personally have never had to deal with. I am invested in Scott and Rylan; the characters were so well crafted with such depth that I couldn’t help but become attached to them both. I want to see them overcome what has been forced upon them by circumstance and decisions. I want them to find their happiness for more than a moment in time. And what I really want? Book Two.
You can buy Pieces of Me here: