Title: Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Tucker Springs Series
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Word Count: 50,000
Book Rating: A
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
Paul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.
El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.
Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.
Fans of Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton are going to LOVE Second Hand, their co-authored release in the Tucker Springs series. It is a delightfully charming romance between two appealing protagonists who are going to steal your heart.
Open a dictionary, look up oblivious and you will find a picture of Paul Hannon. His self-confidence is so low he cannot conceive of anyone being interested in him, let alone notice when they are. But his innocence is also quite endearing and he is just so darned likable you cannot help but root for him to get his act together.
Emanuel “El” Rozal is cynical, world weary and cannot believe how incredibly naive and clueless Paul is. But he genuinely likes Paul and he takes him under his wing. El’s family is a little dysfunctional, but they are a close-knit and loving clan. They are involved in one another’s lives and El displays a great deal of concern for his various family members.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Second Hand is not a “gay for you” story. Rather, it is a journey of self-awareness for Paul as he comes to terms with his long-repressed sexuality and his desire for a “normal” life. Paul fell into his relationship with his ex and he allowed her to steer the course of their future. His attraction to El forces him to re-examine his teenage sexual experimentation with a male friend and re-define what he wants out of his life.
El and Paul’s relationship begins as friendship and slowly grows into something deeper and more meaningful. While there is a great deal of introspection from both Paul and El, Second Hand is a light, angst-free read. It is quite humorous with plenty of witty banter between the characters.
Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton take a rather unusual approach to storytelling in Second Hand. The story alternates between both protagonists perspectives which is nothing out of the ordinary. What is unusual is Paul’s point of view is first person while El’s is third person. Despite the shift, the story flows well, and I definitely enjoyed getting inside both of the characters’ heads.
I highly recommend this fast-paced and highly entertaining romance. Although Second Hand is the second installment of the Tucker Springs series, it can easily be read as a standalone story.