Title: Second Helpings
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Cover Artist: Amber Shah
Rating: 4.00 of 5 Stars
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.
Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane is a heartfelt story of moving on. Of finding the promise of happiness when everything seems dark and distant, and learning that sometimes time and perspective can provide answers to the most difficult of questions.
Stuart Collins lost his partner and first love Mark a year ago in a car accident. He’s drifting, anchorless and lonely. He has an absorbing and fulfilling job but he hates coming home to an empty house, hates walking through his own front door, and being met with nothing but silence. When his widowed father Roddy meets a new love, Louise, her son Paul contacts Stuart to vet his dad.
Paul Franklin, just back from a spell living and working in the United States is missing his boyfriend Ben. Ben seemed willing to come to the UK while they were discussing future plans but now that Paul has come ahead Ben appears reluctant to follow. What’s worse is that Ben appears to have cut off all contact, ignoring Paul’s numerous texts and emails. It’s been weeks since he’s heard anything so Paul is left wondering if they even have a relationship anymore. When Paul finds out his mum is dating again he’s concerned enough to contact the man’s son, Stuart, to find out what he can about his mums new beau. What he finds is an intriguing likeable man, someone he’d like to know better, with maybe the promise of more. But is Paul free to be with Stuart?
Whilst I felt the idea of Paul vetting Stuart’s dad to a bit OTT at first once I knew how Louise’s first husband treated her I could understand Paul’s concern and his actions didn’t seem so weird after all. Stuart and Paul become friends over a beer and soon realise they have much more in common that they thought; especially when they find out they are both gay, and single and lonely. As the two men begin to get closer, heading tentatively into ‘dating’ territory, they gradually open up about their pasts, Stuart talking about Mark, his dead partner, and Paul sharing his fears over Ben’s silence. But the path the new beginnings is rocked by Ben’s sudden contact and Paul’s quick temper, leaving Stuart wondering if he’s leapt too far too quickly, and Paul with decisions to make. Just how does Paul see his future, and could Stuart have a place in it?
I found the story emotional, the writing sensitive and engaging. More than once I found myself with tears in my eyes when Stuart talks about Mark and to Mark when he visits his grave. I empathised with Stuart, although I haven’t lost a partner to death I have lost loved ones so I understood how he’d find peace talking to Mark, and the bit about the Plum Tree was precious. I liked Paul as well, even though he has a temper. I understood his indecision and how his fear of becoming like his father shadowed his actions. I really felt that with someone like Stuart to ground him that temper wouldn’t be such a problem. I also liked both Louise and Stuart’s dad Roddy; he talked a lot of sense, especially about how you can only move on when your heart feels ready.
I really enjoyed Second Helpings. Charlie Cochrane has a way with words that never fails to hit the spot, and she always leaves me wondering about the characters long after I’ve finished the story. We don’t get a happy ever after, Second Helpings isn’t that kind of story, what we get is a tentative happy for now, with the promise of a happy ever after in the future, and that is more than good enough for me. Perhaps one day Ms Cochrane may continue their journey and that is a story I’d love to read.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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