Saturday, December 3, 2016

ARC Review: Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins

Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.

He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.

Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.

Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.

But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.

Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.

Jewel's rating:

I've been struggling with this review a bit. While Glass Tidings was a lovely story, and I enjoyed it, it was missing a certain intimacy until the very end that kept me from really connecting with the characters as a couple. I liked the story quite a lot; it was full of hope and new beginnings and I liked the message and the MC's themselves, I just wanted more of a 'connection' that I didn't see until the end of the story.

Eddie Rodrigues is a glass artisan, who doesn't see himself as as an artist. After growing up in the system, he's been traveling the Renaissance Faire circuit for years, making fairies and wands, and the monotony, as well as the travel suits him. Never stay in one place too long, never get comfortable, never really trust. Eddie is prickly, and prefers to push other people's buttons right off, so he can learn how to navigate around them. He's honest, but he doesn't trust easily. His last attempt at trust didn't go so well, so if there is one thing you can count on, it's that he won't be sticking around.

Grayson Croft is a loner, living in a small town. He owns The Christmas Shoppe in town and an old Victorian house that he has slowly been restoring. He surrounds himself with family heirlooms, preferring the company those passed on to that of actual people. Gray lives such an isolated life, with his shop only open during the Christmas season and the other 10 months of the year spent avoiding most human contact. He says he prefers his own company, but the truth is he just doesn't want to face his loneliness, because that might make it real.

But one night, Eddie witnesses a hit and run and needs a place to stay until the local cop can get a statement and hopefully be able to identify any suspects so Gray gets volunteered to host him. Eddie reluctantly agrees to stay a while, but he's always got one foot out the door. Eddie assumes, at first, that the price of staying means sexual favors for Gray, but while Gray is attracted, he doesn't want sex in trade, so he keeps his distance. At first, anyway.

I liked both MC's, I thought that they were both pretty well drawn. They were flawed and felt real and, hell, they both really loved to read more than they liked socializing, so I could seriously identify with them both, there. I didn't, however, see their connection at all until the end. Their casual interactions seemed fluid and natural to me, but there was no intimacy, even when they were being intimate (which was sparse). And a good bit of that was because Eddie insisted on things being that way, but it prevented me from bonding with them as a couple. I could see their friendship, just fine, just not their relationship.

I very much enjoyed seeing Eddie start to relax and get into his routine of working at the shop and making glass ornaments for Gray to sell. It really lets us get to know him and his character. Eddie is a very giving man, unless it's himself on the line. He's generous and he reads people pretty well. Opening up, however, is another story. And seeing Gray figure out that just because his ex left, doesn't mean that he can't go on. Gray becomes visibly happier when Eddie was there. He realizes that he can have friends and even learn to love.

I did enjoy the story, though, even without the intimacy and the ending, after the inevitable separation, is where their connection finally clicked for me. It was a beautiful and full of hope for the future.

ARC of Glass Tidings was generously provided by the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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