Taking him on: I wish I knew how she does it…

Boy, I remember the first time I picked up the first book in this series, “Checking him out”, and putting it away after a few pages. I particularly remember the hot water it got me in with the book’s author… Yeah, that was a while ago. She’s not sent me one of her books since, seething for months with anger at my dismissal of the book being “typical M/M” and “you know one the first page how it ends…” Technically, I was right, even though the first comment was rubbish and insulting really. I’ve long ago apologized. I gave the book a second shot and loved it. Still hated Sol at the end, but oh well. That was then. She was right, as always. When I got the chance to read “Taking him on” I didn’t hesitate.

Taking_him_on_CoverI think it’s no secret to anyone that I don’t like series. The reason I don’t like them is because I’m a little bit like Matty, one of the main characters in “Taking him on”, I just don’t want to pay THAT much attention to anything, not for that long, and knowing there is a continuation, I just HAVE to read it, and I don’t like feeling trapped like that. As an author, I’ve begun to see things a little bit differently, but that’s a different story.

So, finally, she sends me “Taking him on”, and I promised her a review. By now I know I’ll like what she writes. She’s an extraordinarily gifted writer, and the last time I reviewed one of her books (which I paid for, just saying), I didn’t know how to put words to it, because it was that good! I also realized something else while reading this fourth story in the series. Deb is a bit of a slow starter. And I think that’s been throwing me off track, being a bit Matty and all…

Getting back into the story of a series is always (no matter the author), a bit tricky. Things, events past, are being reiterated, for the benefit of those who haven’t read the story, and the forgetful ones, and annoyingly for those of us who haven’t, so you read through, hoping for the story to pick up. The reading is slow, but, without really knowing it, as you recognize the “antics” of Sol, Adam, you are being sucked right in, and before I knew it, I was taking my phone everywhere I went, kitchen to grab a snack, bathroom (yeah, no more details) and back to my chair, pressing on, completely absorbed by the story.

I feel for Noah, from who’s point of view the story is told. I often feel as (over-?) protective as he does toward Matty, and I know the emotion of betrayal, real or perceived; no difference to our synapses. Before long I was crying. Not once, far too often, even for my comfort. Not that there is a huge deal of drama in the story, but this is more due to domestic settings right now. I needed it, and unlike Noah, tears are never far away for me.

The book introduces a new character, Leigh, and I sense a potential book lurking there. This is a series after all, it needs to be milked to the max. Yeah, I still don’t like them. Although it was nice, no, it was very nice to read this story. And in many ways it feels more genuine than the first book. The emotions are more raw, more tangible, and the narrative more direct.

Noah and Matty are young, barely twenty, and much of their drama can seem “youthful”, “immature”, yet when you think about it, the misunderstandings, the little white lies, the secrets, they are everywhere, and when you read about them, they make you think about your own past, your own present and hopefully learn a lesson for your own future, to trust more, be more forthright, less secretive. I know it’s what makes my own relationship to my husband work: honesty. The lessons are there, for all of us, no matter what age we are.


Author Debbie McGowan

So, what if “Taking him on” was off to a slow start, I stuck with it, and it is definitely an amazing book, and if you like any of Debbie’s stories, you’ll love this one, and if you haven’t read any of her books before, it’s about bloody time you do, or I’ll have Matty’s dad come pay you a visit. Just saying…

Finally a word about the writing. Gosh, this woman is my publisher, and my editor, I better be careful what I say. I should just put my pen down and accept that I can’t write. Sometimes I wonder what makes her put up with amateurs like me. The finesse with which she describes the scenery of “anything”, “anywhere”, the love with which she describes her English motherland, the culture, the food, the people, even a stinking, old pub, is permeated with so much love, not to mention her astonishing knowledge of just about everything, it makes reading her books far more than the love story to two troubled young men, but an excursion into modern contemporary England, an insight I wish more people could have. The woman’s writing is simply put bloody brilliant!

Now go forth, and buy her books! I’ll see if I can return to my own amateurish writing after this…

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