Never A Hero
by Marie SextonEveryone deserves a hero.
Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.
This was a sweet love story about a socially-awkward loner who is too afraid of being laughed at to leave his own apartment for long, and a confident veterinarian with a dark secret. It dealt with some pretty heavy topics and I love that Marie Sexton wasn't afraid to delve into such dark waters.
I loved Owen's character. He is a nice guy but paralyzed with fear and self-doubt because of the fact that he has a congenitally amputated arm and an obvious stutter when he becomes anxious. Most of his low self-esteem comes from his mother, who is a bitterly unhappy woman, and who only seems happy when she is making other people miserable. I felt horrible for Owen because of some of the incredibly hurtful things she's said. No one should be that cruel, especially to their own children. I absolutely hated that woman. Hated.
Nick was a great character, for the most part. He helped Owen come out of his shell and gave him more confidence than he's ever had in his entire life. He was supportive, but not overly protective. He introduced Owen to his sister, who also has a congenitally amputated arm, but on the opposite side than Owen does. Pretty coincidental, right? That fact made me scoff a bit, but this is a romance and they've never been known for being entirely believable. I liked Nick, though I was disappointed in him for several things he did during the course of the story. Yes, he has a dark secret and he's afraid to tell Owen. Completely understandable, at that point, because they're only friends. But he leads Owen on and then backs off until he seems cold and unapproachable. Not a good thing to do to someone with such low self-esteem, man. And he allowed them to get 'close' before his big reveal. Absolutely unacceptable, in this case.
The relationship between them started as a comfortable friendship and built slowly. I liked that the author spent a lot of time developing things between them and didn't make them jump into bed within the first few chapters, like I've seen in many romances.
There was one scene in particular that I thought was especially well done. Nick invites Owen out to a friendly dinner at a restaurant. Things go from pretty bad to oh-my-god-get-me-out-of-here! The entire scene at the restaurant was wonderfully written. It made me extremely anxious and I wanted to crawl into a deep, dark hole out of empathy for Owen. If you have even a degree of social anxiety, it will be a very uncomfortable scene to read. Any book that can give me such an emotional reaction is very well-written, in my opinion.
There were a few things that I disliked. One, was that I doubted that Owen could completely get over his anxiety so quickly. Of course, the beginning of it was in stages, but toward the end it was like he was a completely different person. He's had a lifetime of serious anxiety and self-esteem problems, and I don't think it's possible to get over it so fast without having some lingering issues.
Another is that I have never in my life heard a man use the endearment 'hun'. I could be wrong and maybe there are a lot of men out there that use it and I just haven't met them. But to me it sounded more like something an older woman would say, and it completely ruined that moment for me. Luckily it was only once, but it stuck in my mind throughout the rest of the book.
Normally I would give this 3/5 stars, but because of that restaurant scene, I'm giving it: