Title: Second Hand
Series: Tucker Springs, Book 2
Author: Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy from publisher
Published: September 2012 by Riptide Publishing
Paul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he's not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.
El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn't apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.
Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There's no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn't mean second best.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Good small town MM romance.
The Set Up: Paul’s life is a disappointment: his long-term girlfriend left him with a house he can’t afford and a job he doesn’t really want. He goes to El’s pawnshop to pawn some of his ex-girlfriend’s stuff and the men become friends. El is a cynic who doesn’t do relationships, especially with a seemingly straight man pining for his ex. But El and Paul connect more than either thought possible.
Why I Read this Book: I’ve been on a Marie Sexton reading frenzy and this is the sixth book of hers I’ve read in two weeks. So yeah, I like her as an author.
What I Liked: El. I adored his character. First, he’s Hispanic which is too rare in romance novels and he’s got a great family dynamic with his sister Rosa and his hoarder mother. Second, he’s a cynic but still hopeful to find some kind of life partner. It was impossible not to fall in love with the quirky El who knows who he is and lives an unapologetic life. El is a bit of a philosopher and I found this combination of cynical dreamer stellar. Also, El gets a dog midway through the novel and the relationship between El and the dog is adorable—and I’m not even a dog person. In my opinion El stole the show even though the story is told first person by Paul.
What I Also Liked: I love Paul’s mother and how she helps Paul accept his sexuality. I’m not normally a fan of MM romance where one lead has deep angst about being gay but in this case Paul didn’t drag it out too much. I was worried for a bit after he and El share an erotic interlude but the novel doesn’t allow Paul’s angst to overtake the romance which is critical to my enjoyment of MM romances.
I also like Paul’s resolution with his ex-girlfriend. I wanted the self-absorbed Stacey to get her just dues and it was satisfying when she did. Likewise, I love El’s family and how his sister finds the man she needs. I hope El’s best friend gets his own book soon, as he’d be a great character to carry another romance.
What I Didn’t Like: This is a small town romance so don’t expect any big plot twists. This is just two average men with nutty families and life disappointments figuring out if they can be a couple. I would have been bored with this novel if it had continued even fifty more pages but it wrapped everything up just in time to keep my interest.
IMO: Good MM romance with one great lead I feel in love with and think other MM readers will too.