Marc Wynn has accompanied his beloved aunt to estate sales for years, but he’s never found anything he couldn’t live without—until he meets Sawyer Calhoun. Sawyer, in town to deal with his grandfather’s estate, wastes no time in revealing his romantic interest in Marc, but their promising first evening ends badly with Sawyer as adamant about broadcasting his sexuality as Marc is about hiding his.
But when Sawyer hires Marc to restore his grandfather’s house, their intense attraction grows into an emotional connection neither can resist. During the renovations, family secrets and other surprises come to light, and Sawyer must face his past when a tragedy threatens Marc’s livelihood. But not every obstacle is surmountable, and even with Sawyer by his side, Marc might lose everything.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Great Restorations is the third Libby Drew book I’ve read and is engaging and fun to read. There is an ease to Drew’s writing that quickly draws you in and keeps you reading. I tend to connect this author with easy, lighter fare that is enjoyable but not stories I’d read again. This offering fits well with that and the chemistry between Marc and Sawyer is by far the best part. The plot is decent but requires some suspension of disbelief in multiple places. This is a solid story with good writing, delightfully witty banter, and a very entertaining cast of characters.
Marc is a small town young man that is much more mature than his age. He’s been closeted for his whole life but when he meets Sawyer, that security is threatened. When Sawyer hires Marc to restore his newly inherited house, Marc is torn between desire and fear. When tragedy strikes and Marc is suddenly forced to really look at his life, Sawyer is there with open arms. Life is not easy for the two and Marc must face at least one more major hurdle before happiness can be seen on the horizon.
The story is nicely plot driven with the emphasis on outside influences for the most part as Marc and Sawyer dance around their attraction. Their chemistry is instantaneous and the tension between the men is built quite well. From the moment they meet and want more, these two come close to each other only to back away time and time again. Some of this is clearly artifice as Sawyer often runs after Marc and apologizes when it makes little sense. Sawyer is not willing to get into a relationship with a closeted man and Marc is not ready to come out about his sexuality. This creates a push/pull dynamic where the two clearly want to get together and they tease, touch, kiss, and flirt but one or the other pulls away.
This is repetitive nature of their relationship lasts for a good portion of the story but the deft handling of including outside influences helps keep this from being annoying or frustrating. Instead once you accept the two will do this beyond what they should or actually would do, then it’s fun to watch their dynamic and obvious sizzling chemistry. Adding to the entertainment factor is a host of secondary characters that simply demand their own attention. Marc’s crew of misfits and goofs offer a good alternative to the sexual tension of Marc and Sawyer and their banter keeps the story moving and enjoyable. Some of this feels crowded in places when there is too much going on and the characters keep offering more and more quips. This can take away the humor the banter is going for since it happens so frequently but the exceptional additional of Bruce makes me want to forgive all issues.
Bruce is by far a scene stealer. He has the absolute best lines, the funniest dialogue, wittiest come backs, and truly eye catching fashion sense. He’s not classically handsome but he’s given such personality and charm that he takes all the attention whenever present. If Bruce doesn’t get his own book, likely with Tim, there may be a riot. Nicely rounding out the characterization are Marc and Sawyer who present with complications of their own with a very enjoyable dynamic. Watching their relationship grow and develop is quite fun and I like these two together. They fit in a lot of ways and their personalities really compliment each other, a tribute to the subtle and well crafted characterizations.
There are a few bumps in the story, such as Marc’s parents. They come across as too wooden and angry. Clearly their life and goals are not steeped in the classic villain stereotype so I’m disappointed they were given such lifeless molds. They’re clearly not good parents but their treatment feels too heavy handed and without the subtly and complexity they deserve. There are a few stretches to the imagination (such as the hidden desk with documents) but I could suspend my disbelief just to enjoy the storytelling. Overall this is an entertaining and engrossing story that keeps your attention. Add in a great dynamic between the leading men with scene stealing side kicks, this should satisfy most romance fans.
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