Title: Not a Word
Author: Dawn Sister
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Length: 133 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: Not a Word is a warm and touching story that ends up packing an unexpectedly hefty emotional punch. I wasn’t surprised by how much I fancied it, though I was surprised by how much it moved me.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Niall doesn’t speak to his neighbours. He doesn’t speak to anyone. Avoiding conversation is easier than the pity and impatience he senses from everyone the moment he opens his mouth and nothing comes out. Since he split up with his partner years before, he hasn’t had much to do with anyone and that has suited him just fine. He has his dog, Zen, for company. Zen doesn’t care that Niall can’t get through an entire sentence without stuttering. Zen is all Niall needs. And that’s how it would have stayed until the day a new neighbour moves in next door.
Zak is Niall’s exact opposite—twenty-three years Niall’s junior, bubbly, gregarious and never shuts up. His arrival fills Niall’s quiet life with constant noise and constant company. Zen appears to have defected, and Zak doesn’t seem to even notice that Niall rarely speaks. Gradually, Zak’s endless patience brings Niall out of his shell. To Niall’s surprise, he suddenly has a friend, a confidante and perhaps something more.
And he didn’t even have to say a word.
Review: All does not go well on the path to happily ever after in Not a Word simply because its love interests begin to spend a considerable amount of time together. The issue in this short novel becomes evident from early on—the truth is that speaking and communicating are two very different things, and when things go off the rails, it all derails in stunningly painful ways.
Niall Johnston is rather asocial, though it’s not because he’s inherently rude or unkind. He simply doesn’t go out of his way to chat up neighbors or strangers, because Niall has a speech impediment and it’s just too uncomfortable to witness the pity on their faces as they watch him struggle to speak. Not to mention frustrating to be interrupted or have people “help” him finish his sentences when they become impatient. He’s been called the names that bring his intelligence into question too, so Niall just keeps to himself. He has his dog, Zen, to talk to, and that’s helped fend off the loneliness since his breakup with his cheating ex five years ago. Zen never pressures Niall, or judges him, and it’s notable that Niall never stutters when he’s talking to Zen.
But then, one day, Niall’s self-imposed isolation gets tossed to the wind when a force of nature moves in next door. A man twenty years his junior, who causes Niall to realize that maybe he’s been lonelier than he realized.
Niall doesn’t know what to make of Zachary Cartwright at first. In fact, Zak’s nonstop stream of conversation when they meet intimidates Niall so much that he scoops up Zen and escapes into his house before Zak ever has a chance to register what’s happened. Dawn Sister captures this rather inauspicious moment, bottles it, and then proceeds to sprinkle it generously through the rest of this engaging little love story, as Zak insinuates himself into Niall’s life—thanks in large part to Zen and the way he’s taken to this new human—and Niall has no choice, really, but to accept that he has grown to love Zak’s company along with their budding friendship. Zak carries the bulk of their conversations, but when he stops to listen to Niall, he does so with a patience that Niall has rarely ever experienced. Zak waits, he doesn’t interrupt, and he never makes Niall feel too intimidated to speak.
That doesn’t mean, however, that words don’t cut. They do, they cut deep, and the question becomes whether those words can be forgiven.
Not a Word is a warm and touching story that ends up packing an unexpectedly hefty emotional punch. I wasn’t surprised by how much I fancied it, though I was surprised by how much it moved me. This is a story about the power of words and, more importantly, how words have power—the power to build up and the power to tear down. I went looking for a sweet and quick little romance to tide me over between novels, and happily ended up with a bit more than I’d bargained for.
You can buy Not a Word here:
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