Thursday, December 8, 2016

ARC Review: Clickbait by E.J. Russell


After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.

My rating:

Gideon Wallace is a self-employed web designer, whose projects have dried up, inexplicably. His latest proposal has been declined/delayed, and he's in desperate needs of finding a paying job.

He's hired to set up a brand-new server room for a company, but has zero input on what servers and equipment is being purchased. Additionally, while he's supposed to set up the servers, there is still construction happening on the same floor.

Which is how Gideon meets Alex Henning. Alex is an electrician on the same job site.

Lindsey is Gideon's roommate. And Alex's sister. And Alex knows Gideon, and has kind of had a thing for the guy for a while. In secret. Because he believes that Gideon is way out of his league and wouldn't even give a guy like Alex the time of day. What with Alex being blue collar, and possibly also because he's PoC.

Alex and Lindsey were adopted by a very nice couple, the mother being a nurse and the father an electrician, who taught Alex everything he knows. Or knew - because Mr. Henning is now suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's which has affected everyone in the family.

Gideon is an interesting character. Flawed, somewhat selfish and self-absorbed, and very occupied with outward appearances after a bad break-up and being hurt not just emotionally but also physically. He puts a lot of effort into his own appearance, and comes across as shallow and cynical. Also, holidays are a nononono for him, especially Thanksgiving. He doesn't celebrate it, and doesn't even mention it by name. Because only bad things happen on Thanksgiving.

Alex, having been abandoned as a child and thankfully been adopted by the Hennings, has met Gideon one time at a party a while ago. He loves his family, and feels that he's now responsible for keeping it all together, making as much money as he can, since his mother had to stop working to care for his dad, and Lindsey is basically thinking that their father will at some point get better.

I adored Alex pretty much from the start. He's compassionate, he cares, he loves his family, he works hard. He's basically puts his own life on hold while helping his mother as much as possible with his father, who no longer recognizes him as his son.

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, and it was heartbreaking to read about Alex fighting his tears and grief trying to deal with losing his father, even though the man is still physically present.

Gideon often sounded like a spoiled child instead of the grown-up he's supposed to be. He does exhibit some growth during the course of the book, and he does fall for Alex, hook, line, and sinker, and even offers to cook Thanksgiving for the family. He's a bit high strung, though, and while I could buy his reasons for a bit, I also expected him to get over himself, especially considering how much Alex helps him. And for a while Gideon does get it, but then he does this thing and it all blows up in his face, because Alex isn't all that smart either, it seems.

Alex too had his bad moments in this book. People aren't mindreaders, but Alex expected Gideon to know what was bothering Lindsey. Not that Lindsey was any more mature in that aspect, either. They both struggled in their own way, of course, but Lindsey's insistence that their father should stay at home, because any moment now he would get better - it was like she was sticking her head in the sand. I understood her pain, sure, but maybe I'm too realistic. Alzheimer's is awful - and it only gets worse. While people diagnosed with this disease have lucid moments every once in a while, their brains deteriorate more and more, and it's not going to get better.

I liked the plot of this, with the emphasis being on family and relationships and working throught the tough times. Both Alex and Gideon had their fair share of issues, but they did eventually figure it out.

Though the drama at the end with Gideon's ex was a bit... let's call it over the top. And the owner of the company who hired Gideon to build the server room was nothing more than a sleaze.

There are some sexy times here, but they weren't plentiful, and worked within the plot to further the story. None of them seemed gratuitous, which I appreciated.

Overall, this is a well-written, easily read story with some rather flawed characters, who all needed to learn a lesson. Which, for the most part, they did.

This was my first book by this author, but probably not my last.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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