Title: Directing Traffic
Author: Charley Descoteaux
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: June 26, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
Neil Sedwick expects to spend his vacation in a sleepy tourist trap mourning his late partner’s death. Instead, he puts his recently acquired CPR certificate to use and saves an elderly resident’s life. But it’s the survivor’s nephew, sexy middle-school teacher Ty Bigelow, who causes Neil to reevaluate his routine and consider reopening his heart.
Though the electricity between them is undeniable, Ty is struggling with his own feelings of inadequacy, and Neil is moored to the past. Even the healing peace of an old man’s garden and the ever-changing waters of the Oregon coast may not be enough to prepare Neil to overcome a crisis of the heart.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Good concept that fell short for me.
The Set Up: Neil mourns the death of his partner of twenty years in their old vacation seaside town. There he puts his CPR certification to use by saving the life of an elderly man. The man’s nephew, Ty, wakes Neil up but Ty has his own insecurities and Neil may not be able to get over his partner’s death.
Why I Read this Book: I search out non-traditional romances where leads are older or overcoming grief so this synopsis fit that.
What I Liked: I liked the portrayal of Neil. He was with his much older partner for nearly twenty years and essentially grew up in this relationship. Now that he is alone in the world (or so he feels) he’s like a fragile butterfly who isn’t sure he can fly on his own. This is illustrated in Neil’s decision on keeping or getting rid of his partner’s expensive car. Neil seemed a very realistic portrayal of someone making tough life decisions and kudos to the author for a job well done with his character.
What I Also Liked: For such a short novella this one had good secondary characters. I liked Neil’s friend, Ben, who was a warm, caring friend who nudged Neil when appropriate and comforted him when Neil’s growth caused pain. The elderly man Neil saves is Ray and he’s the quintessential wise elder whose sage advice helps progress a story but he’s got enough sass to make it light-hearted as well.
What I Didn’t Like: I had two big criticisms of this novella. One was Ty and his “insecurities” which came across to me as whiplash jerkiness. Ty is introduced as a nice, happy go lucky guy who though has problems, isn’t a wreck about them. Then in one scene Ty does a 180 and freaks out at Neil. In my opinion, if Ty was such a troubled character then this needed to have some lead up. As it was, it felt very forced to have Ty push Neil away. Ty’s character, in my opinion, needed some better introduction and deep growth and I didn’t see either.
Second, I *detest* in stories where an ex-lover is such a huge part of the story only to be forced off stage by a ridiculous plot move. I know this is vague but I don’t want to spoil the novella totally. In my opinion if a story is about partner grief, as this one is, then those emotions need to be reconciled for the character, not shoved aside because of something the lead finds out about the ex-lover. Emotional growth should be organic to the characters, not forced upon them because of a secret that comes out.
IMO: I wanted to like this little novella way more than I did.