Title: Trusting Love
Author: Mari Evans
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Blurb: Laurie Stallon isn’t like other high schoolers. After suffering years of abuse at his father’s hands, he now lives in a foster care facility and finds solace volunteering at the local animal shelter. Laurie’s had to grow up fast, and even though his eighteenth birthday is still weeks away, he’s more adult than most adults he knows. When he meets Dr. Sam Davies, the new shelter veterinarian, the attraction is instant. They become friends at work, but Laurie knows Sam will never go for someone like him. No matter how Laurie tries to prove his maturity to Sam, Sam continues to reject him as too young.
Needing a distraction, Laurie goes out dancing for his birthday and finds his life in danger yet again. When Sam is called to the hospital, he realizes Laurie needs someone to care for him. Sam takes him home, and they slowly build a relationship. But more than their age difference works against them. Facing the disapproval of friends and the scars from Laurie’s past, they’ll need to put all their trust in love for a chance at a future together.
Review: This is a book I really wanted to like. The premise was intriguing and a bit dark. The first few chapters captured my attention, and I was really into the two main characters. There were some well fleshed out secondary characters as well, particularly Laurie’s group of girlfriends.
Once the couple got together, however, this book turned south for me, but not because I couldn’t tell the author cared deeply about the story and the journey of the characters. It was the writing and the lack of depth to the characters which took away form a good storyline.
Trying not to give away spoilers, I’ll touch on some of the things which didn’t work for me in this book.
• Perhaps the biggest issue was how much Laurie waffled back and forth from elated to depressed (almost as if he had manic-depressive disorder). His reactions were strong and unfounded based on the context of the situation. This is normal for an eighteen year old person, but not tremendously romantic or sexy.
• The age difference played a huge role in the book. Laurie was seventeen when we meet him, and Sam was twenty-seven. On Laurie’s eighteenth birthday, they kiss for the first time. My ick-factor definitely kicked in at that. Plus, Sam had experience and should have seen right away that Laurie needed some time to grow up. The fact he didn’t (or couldn’t) made it difficult for me to understand or care for his feelings too much.
• There was too much telling of how the characters felt and what their experiences were rather than showing. Too often one character or another tells us how they are feeling or how they think the other one is feeling, which robbed from the immediacy of the action and the impact of the events.
• The two characters fell into the category of cliché. Laurie was the young, innocent and immature boy who needed to grow up and trust love. Sam was the rock who had the patience of a saint. I wish they had been a bit more believable.
Overall, in reading this debut novel, I see promise in Ms. Evans’ future. Like I said before, she cares about her characters and their lives. That was evident all the way through. With some honing of her show-don’t-tell skills, some work on deep point of view (to make the actions and emotions jump off the page without her having to tell us how the characters feel (and perhaps creating characters who are more believable in the process), a good group of critique partners/beta readers and more practice, I believe Ms. Evans’ stories will develop in sophistication and will carry the reader on a more visceral journey. This book, however, didn’t accomplish that for me.
You can buy Trusting Love here: