Book Review: A Helping Hand by Shayla Kersten

A Helping Hand by Shayla KerstenTitle: A Helping Hand
Series: Tennessee Cops, Book 2
Author: Shayla Kersten
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Published: August 27, 2008 by Ellora’s Cave

Deputy Sheriff Rich Taylor has many secrets. His sexuality is only the top of the list. Even his best friend Dan doesn't know Rich is gay. For good reason. His feelings for Dan are more than friendship. When Dan's injured, the thought of losing him forces Rich to admit his years-long lust has turned to love.

An accident turns State Trooper Dan Fletcher's life, and his car, upside down. With his right hand out of commission, he has to rely on his best friend for his basic-sometimes intimate-needs. After spending most of his life looking for the right woman, he begins to wonder if he's been looking at the wrong gender-an impossible concept in their small-minded world.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: This long novella had such promise with its friends-to-lovers and gay-for-you tropes but the execution was clumsy, unresolved, and bummed me out.

The Set Up: Rich keeps his job in law enforcement separate from his life as a closeted gay man. Even his best friend and fellow officer, Dan, doesn’t know Rich is gay or in love with him. When Dan is injured on the job, Rich offers to care for him. The forced intimacy of Rich caring for Dan will challenge Dan to accept his new and confusing feelings for Rich.

Why I Read this Book: One of my favorite MM tropes is friends to lovers so this was a no brainer to read.

What I Liked: I loved the tension between Rich and Dan. They’ve been friends for over a decade and they truly care for each other, with Rich’s morphing into unrequited love and lust. The author wrote gripping tension between what the men know about each other and what they need to learn to be sexual partners. The dance between Rich and Dan as the relationship slowly adds a sexual element is delicious anticipation at first that I really liked.

I also really loved Rich. He’s loyal, kind and brave. When things between he and Dan look to be ending he doesn’t crawl into his emotional cave but instead starts to plan a new life for himself. In all honesty, I kind of wanted Rich to go with the new life instead of Dan. This was a case of me watching a friend partner with the person they love that I don’t think is good for them. So this was a success on the author’s part that I felt this way about Rich.

What I Didn’t Like: But mostly this novella disappointed me. Dan spends most of the novella refusing to accept his changing feelings for Rich only to pull Rich in for mostly one-sided sexual experimentation which keeps Rich tethered to Dan. Dan is jealous but is still willing to give Rich up to Rich’s f#$k buddy all so that the townspeople don’t learn Dan is having gay feelings for Rich. By novella’s end I wanted Rich to leave Dan and go to Memphis and build a life with Jeremy, his f#$k buddy who cherished Rich, unlike selfish Dan. Even the novella’s resolution was superficial with how Dan felt about his changed relationship with Rich and lacked deeper resolution in my mind. Rich was such a great character and his loyalty and love so deep that I felt Dan was an emotional cheapskate and didn’t deserve Rich.

IMO: I loved this premise and how the romantic tension was initially laid out but the relationship development and resolution were big misses for me.


J9’s Rating:
2 1/2 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


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