Nowhere Diner: Finding Love by TA Chase
Leaving Minnesota, Timothy Gapin doesn’t have any plans except getting as far away from all the memories as he can before his money runs out. His secret lover has married, breaking his heart and making him chose a life in the open rather than a relationship built on lies.
Little does Tim know that four days later he would grab dinner at a diner and find a place to stop. Somehow this diner in the middle of nowhere becomes his home and the people who work there his family. In addition to the workers at the diner, Tim meets Bernie Capley, a long-haul trucker who isn’t all he seems to be.
Falling in love with Bernie is easy for Tim, but the past has a way of barging into the present, forcing decisions that affect their future…
This unfortunate offering is sadly boring, stereotypical, unoriginal, and lacks interest even during the sex scenes. The characters are flat, one-dimensional at best and most often reflect staid, predictable reactions that lack energy, vitality, and emotional depth. Not to mention, the last 30 pages are unnecessary, gratuitous and offer nothing to the story itself except prolonging the happy ending. I can’t recommend this book and I’d suggest even fans skip this offering and stay with one of Chase’s better stories.
The premise is that Timothy Gapin is fleeing Minnesota after his closeted lover/best friend has gotten married. Trying to find a new life for himself, Tim lands in Gay Utopia and finds immediate work at a diner. He also finds a rich, new boyfriend. When Tim’s uncle suddenly falls ill, Tim must go back to Minnesota and face not only his ex-boyfriend but also his ex’s new wife.
The story itself lacks any interesting action and contains almost no tension or conflict. If the characters and action had actually had some depth of conflict and originality, the common place themes would get a fresh spin. Told in first person, past tense from Tim’s perspective, the narrative opens as Tim leaves behind the love of his life Aaron and gets on a bus to find a new life. A few days later Tim is at a bus stop in Texas and happens to be in the right place at the right time to immediately get a job and a place to live in what appears to be the Gay Paradise of Texas. Everyone in the diner is either gay or gay friendly and is best described by this quote from the book:
I shook my head and chuckled. “It’s like falling into a gay fantasy land. Everyone’s either queer or they don’t mind people being gay. I didn’t think Texas would be so open to differences.”
“Don’t expect things to be the same when you go elsewhere. Cookie’s Diner is one of the few places where you’ll be accepted for who you are. Cookie doesn’t allow anyone to talk bad about anyone else, and I, for one, appreciate it.” Cynthia jumped to her feet. “Got a new customer. Hey, have fun on your date tomorrow night.”
It was a gay utopia populated by a bunch of gossips.
So here in Nowhere, Texas, everyone is gay from the cops to the waitress and so on; lucky Tim landed in such a safe, happy place. This sets the story up to have an entirely too easy feel and shows there will be nothing in the context to draw the eye and keep the reader interested. Even when Tim has to go back to Minnesota and his sexuality is exposed, there is almost little to no backlash. The one person who may have an issue with the situation is predictable, stereotypical, and utterly flat as the typical, hate mongering gay basher. This marks the very lack of originality, creativity, and interest that plagues this entire story. There is nothing fresh or new in this story that hasn’t been told numerous times before and there is almost no real action. The story can’t quite decide what the purpose is – a sweet, easy love story or a troubled, young adult learning what true love is after hardship? Neither one actually fits the story but it seems to dance between the two superficially.
The characters themselves are weak and severely underdeveloped. They are mostly empty placeholders to express the right emotion or acceptance as Tim moves around the story. From Bernie’s instant love and financial help to Aaron’s shift towards the end to make Tim’s moving on acceptable, even to Valerie (Aaron’s wife) and her bizarre friendship with Tim – there is no emotional depth to any of the characters nor any personality. All of the characters, including Tim, are somewhat bland, boring, and completely homogenized so they lack any spark or anything unique and interesting. The story offers little to no depth either as Tim is over the love of his life and in love with Bernie in a matter of weeks mostly due a series of very convenient details. This use of the convenience takes any tension or conflict out of the story, as even the uncle’s illness is easy, handled quickly and without drama.
There are several disconnected and contradicting details added from Bernie’s explanations of his military past and exercise regime to Tim’s later Oprah like advice and public outing of another person’s sexuality. These contradictions are obvious and glaring, which jars the reading of the story even more. The last thirty pages are gratuitous and for the sole purpose of adding more sex, prolonging the happy ending and setting up a future sequel with other characters. None of it added to the already happy, in love couple or the sequel.
Overall this isn’t a difficult story to read but it lacks any interest and I found myself bored almost immediately and that never seemed to let up. I’ve explained the problems I had with the book and perhaps others will find the story more interesting than I did. It reads very much like an older novel with the classic issues and characters. I would suggest skipping this book and perhaps fans of the author can re-read a favored classic of Chase’s.
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One thought on “Nowhere Diner: Finding Love by TA Chase”
Very good, analytic review, Kassa. Like I was saying over at the Jessewave blog, I learn so much from your reviews. I think the hive-mind might have been in effect between us when we each read this. 🙂