Title: Don’t Judge a Book …
Author: Scarlet Blackwell
Length: 18,510 words (90 pdf pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary
Bookworm Rhys lives in the idyllic town of Hawks Bridge and spends his days working at the local library, his evenings quietly reading. He thinks it’s all about books and even the occasional interruption ‘real life’ throws his way cannot change his beliefs.
When car thief Darren arrives to do his community service, Rhys’s world is turned upside down. Rhys thinks the man is uneducated, only to find him reading classics. He expects him to behave like the criminal he is, only Darren doesn’t. While Rhys isn’t exactly out and proud, Darren is in denial about his sexuality.
They are wrong for each other on so many levels, yet rejection only makes the need greater…
This story has a couple of things that appeal to me as a reader, a neurotic book nerd and a bad boy. Oh delightful, which was how I would describe this story. Rhys loves his job as a librarian, his house is full of books, he lives for books. He is extremely annoyed that he’s been assigned to supervise Darren, who is doing community service for stealing a car. Rhys knows about these kinds, and has little tolerance for their ilk. The two get off to a rough start with Rhys being aggressively condescending, and Darren reacting in kind. Eventually Darren is assigned another supervisor after things really blow up, however Darren’s friend and fellow car-thief doesn’t take kindly to Rhys “harassing” his boy and makes it known in a very physical way.
Rhys is hilarious and sweet, and a bit sad. When he freaks out and realizes that Darren simply randomly put books back on the library shelves, he just loses it. It’s like a crime tantamount to murder in his eyes. His reaction is priceless. However his reaction in general to Darren is interesting. Darren’s not as much of a low-life as he expected and he even finds himself attracted physically, however when he finds out Darren is not quite the book Philistine he expected, he has to reassess his life a bit. Which was nice to see him look at what he wants out of life.
However, Darren is very much in the closet and their first encounter, when Rhys knows he shouldn’t be doing this, that Darren will run after, and Rhys will feel like crap, but he can’t stop, was very well done. I think many of us have been there and done that and then banged our head against the wall and wondered what the heck we were thinking. Darren’s gay-bashing friend doesn’t help. The thing that bothered me, was after the first time Rhys is battered by the man, he doesn’t go to the police. I know, I know, maybe they couldn’t do anything, but I’d be filing a report anyway. The next time he’s almost forced to do so again, and also to get medical treatment, when it’s much worse.
It ends on a HFN note, with Darren, who’s had a rough life using his feelings for Rhys to turn his life around, and Rhys loosening up a bit thanks to his feelings for a boy who is all wrong for him, except maybe in the ways that count. So you have the lighthearted side of Rhys and his OCD (he denies it) bookish ways, and the drama of Darren coming to terms with his sexuality and the assaults, all nice wrapped up and woven together. It’s also very much set in England so you get a nice touch of local feel. I really really enjoyed this one so I think it’s worth a read.
Don’t Judge a Book … is to be released on April 28.