Monday, March 6, 2017

Love's Tethered Heart by C.L. Etta

Two years ago Mico and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mico a quadriplegic—and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archaeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive, with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.

Assigned to interview Mico and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the fragile enigmatic man. Mico is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mico is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mico, and he’s determined to show Mico that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mico’s existence.

If you enjoy romantic tales of heartbreak turned to hope, the life-affirming story of Danny and Mico will make you believe in the possibility of love for everyone—no matter what obstacles they face.

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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This story has me so conflicted that I have to split my rating. Five stars for the story concept and three stars for the execution.

This is a beautiful and unusual story of a romance between a quadriplegic man and the journalist sent to record his history. Through Danny’s interviews with Mico and his family, readers learn about Mico’s past while also watching his connection with Danny in the present.

I really enjoyed the way time shifts as characters talk about the past while experiencing the present. Mico’s past is difficult and complicated – I found it impossible not to fall in love with him alongside Danny as his story is told. I liked Mico’s unconventional family and I enjoyed the unlikely connection between Danny and Mico. Both Danny and Mico are forced to readjust their normal and their idea of a relationship. The author brings Mico’s struggle to accept life after disability in a sensitive and realistic way that left me weepy and emotionally raw. Similarly, the consequences of Danny’s choice to pursue a relationship with Mico is also explored thoughtfully.

Now for the three stars. The dialogue in this book absolutely did my head in. The voices of the young men in this book are the voices of much, much older people. Some of the dialogue belongs in a Downton Abbey script. Young men just don’t speak like that. Even Danny’s father, who is supposed to be a minister, sounds ridiculous with his earnest Bible-quoting speeches. Danny himself is a writer – but the alliteration and the lengthy emotional pontifications make him seem like a complete prat at times. I found it really difficult to believe in characters and relationships when the conversations were so stilted. This especially affected my ability to appreciate Mico in the present. Mico only has his voice and face to communicate with and he sounds like someone’s grandfather rather than a desirable young man.

So, overall this is a sympathetic and considered look at romance after disability. I loved the slow untangling of Mico’s life and I enjoyed the relationship between Danny and Mico. I just struggled with the dialogue in this story.

C.L. ETTA, born to a bartender and his wife, became the apple of her parents’ eyes at her first dimpled smile. Developing a lifelong passion for reading, C.L. spent summers riding her bicycle to the library where she filled the handlebar basket with books before riding home. Much to her chagrin, her mother often found C.L. under the bedcovers with a flashlight, reading in the middle of the night.

Fast-forward to college, where C.L. spent good times burning bras, worked summer-stock theater, tried out potential husbands, then to her parents’ and in-laws’ delight, finally started a family. Having raised three kids and a husband, and with varied careers as a secretary, credit union loan veep, a software support representative, a mortgage broker, and a nurse under her belt, C.L. decided it was time for a break. So she retired.

It wasn’t until life had slowed that she heard voices—male voices. Alarmed, she listened, and she discovered new friends who clamored for their stories to be told. So, it was back to school where she stood outside the creative writing classroom with students who observed her silver hair and mistook her for the teacher. After completing class and going on a cruise, she sat at her computer and told her boys’ stories. Eighteen months later, C.L. has contracted with two different publishers for three books. The voices in C.L.’s head are as loud as ever, giving C.L. the impetus to keep writing.

Connect with C.L.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love's Tethered Heart by C.L. Etta to read and review.

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