Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.
Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.
Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they're not that different at all.
On Davis Row is a beautifully written, heartwarming story about second chances and learning that you are more than your family name. In fact, your family doesn't have to be those that are blood related, at all. That particular theme is one of my favorites, because most of the people I consider my family aren't blood related to me, but I know they have my back and I have theirs. That's what family really means.
CJ Davis was dealt a rotten hand in life. All four of his older brothers and his father are no good criminals, all in prison. CJ's only relative that is worth anything is Pops, who raised him the best he could. Now CJ cares for Pops, who is getting up there in age and is chronically ill. Even still, "everyone" knows that those Davis men are no good, so no matter how hard CJ tries to do the right thing -- and he succeeds, dammit -- he still gets lumped in with his brothers and father, because CJ made a mistake a couple years ago and is now on parole.
Noah Huxley is a brand new parole officer. Noah wants to make a difference and he's determined to not treat his parolees as irredeemable. He wants them to succeed and get their lives back on track. He wants to help them. His fellow parole officers see Noah as a dreamer, but they're content to let him do his best. Maybe he's naive, but Noah really feels that everyone deserves a chance to be a law-abiding, productive member of society and he knows that for so many, they've been dealt awful hands and are just trying to survive. But Noah's life hasn't been all rainbows and kittens, either. He knows what loss feels like and he knows that second chances don't come easy.
I loved On Davis Row. CJ has come so far, all on his own. He's never been like his brothers and father and every bit of progress he managed was because he was so determined to be better. Even still, he slipped through every crack in system. He can barely read and write, he has no certifications, but he's good with mechanical things and, since he was 14, he's been working at a local auto repair. CJ only has two people in his court -- Pops and his boss at the auto shop. Once Noah gets to know CJ, a little -- and CJ doesn't make it easy -- he has Noah in his court, too. And Noah has resources to actually help CJ succeed.
On Davis Row had the perfect amount of angst that fit both Noah's and CJ's background, without ever becoming overwhelming. Noah and CJ have to navigate the waters of their relationship very carefully because, like it or not, Noah is CJ parole officer and fraternization is more than just frowned upon. But as they get to know each other, they become friends and then more because some things are just inevitable. Two men, both in need of some healing. Both in need of someone just for them. And a wonderful HEA that made me so proud.
ARC of On David Row was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.
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