Title: Second Time Lucky
Author: Ethan Day
Cover Artist: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Romantic Comedy
Length: Novel 274 PDF pages/80K Words
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Ethan Day’s wonderful characterizations, dialogue and prose light up this brilliant romantic comedy that just might stop the blood flow to your brain.
Second chances aren’t easy to come by but for Luke Landon and Owen West, sometimes the best things really do come back to you.
Luke Landon and Owen West already had a once upon a time. They burned hot back in college yet still managed to lose their way. It’s been fifteen years since they drifted apart and while a lot has since changed, they’ve discovered that some things still feel the same. While one calls it fate, the other dumb luck, second chances aren’t easy to come by. Putting the ignorance of youth and life’s baggage aside, they just might find that sometimes the best things really do come back to you.
If I ever thought that Ethan Day had left town, Second Time Lucky proves that he’s back with a vengeance in a sizzling rom com starring old lovers reconnecting 15 years after their romance fizzled. Second Time Lucky is book II in the “Middleton” series which began with Anything For You that I reviewed here. Although they share the same location, this story is a standalone as are all of the upcoming books in the series.
On the evening of his 36th birthday Lukas was in a bar having a pity party while watching a parade of his exes with their new squeezes dance by. He was bemoaning the fickleness of gay men as he contemplated his downward spiral from chief party boy to a has-been at almost 40. While experiencing a new emotion that he had never felt before – loneliness – Owen West, an old flame, showed up and changed the course of the evening and the direction of his life.
According to Luke, when he and Owen met at 20 they had nothing in common other than his attraction to Owen’s cool, butch looks which made the Montana cowboy seem very hot. Luke recognized that his in-your-face, uninhibited approach to life in general and to sex specifically was not going to endear him to Owen as boyfriend material, so he quietly left Owen before he became the dumpee. Throughout his life he had ensured that no one would have the opportunity to abandon him the way his father did when he was a child, and he sabotaged every relationship because it would have been too painful to relive what had happened all those years ago.
This book is vintage Ethan Day with the wonderfully funny, smart dialogue and prose that I have come to expect from him. His acerbic tongue was very much in evidence as he toyed with his characters, but not in a cruel way, although he loved to illustrate their weaknesses in many situations. Luke was one of Ethan’s most complex and flawed protagonists as he found every possible avenue to screw up his life, but he was so vulnerable that he crawled into my heart and refused to leave. I kept waiting for him to step into a pile of dog poop every time he opened his mouth and he didn’t disappoint. His Achilles heel? Owen whom he badly wanted to stay with forever but could never let on because that would open him to the one thing that would be too painful – being dumped.
Owen had his own share of baggage. When he met Luke he was separated from his partner of 11 years who had cheated on him. He wasn’t in love with his ex but there were many unresolved issues between them, such as a house they owned jointly that they continued to share because they couldn’t afford to carry the mortgage and rent elsewhere. This created stresses in Owen’s and Luke’s new relationship and there was an amusing situation when the new boyfriend met the ex that only Ethan could have dreamed up.
The lines kept on coming and were mostly brilliant and I laughed so hard I’m positive I must have hurt something. I would like to spend an hour in this author’s brain because it’s probably very busy with little people running around inside feeding him dialogue. Here are two examples:
From Luke to his friend Tonie “Our relationship still has that fresh from the factory new ass smell people love so much”.
Comments at work on his appearance when Luke showed up with his lips swollen: “Your mouth looks like it has been sucked through a pool drain.”
“You’re going to need a bigger cup”.
“Gay men can be having stubble in the most curiousness of places. It becomes difficult knowing exactly where his mouth has been.”
The story is told from Luke’s first person POV, and his vulnerability peeked through whenever he opened his smart mouth, despite his best intentions. He had closed off his emotions because they made him feel exposed and raw but Owen showed how he could fly without a net. Luke’s insecurities about his father colored everything in his life, including his relationship with his upper crust mother, a piece of work he loved to hate who couldn’t figure out how she ended up with a gay son and two gay ex husbands. Luke’s “coming out” to his mother in front of all her society friends was one of the highlights of the book. Only someone with a cruel streak and wicked sense of humour could have orchestrated such a scene. 😆 😮 I won’t give you any details since you should enjoy this delicacy without a filter.
The romance was very sweet. Luke didn’t believe in love and it took him months to say the words to Owen who proved in countless ways how much he loved him. When they started dating they lived in different states; it wasn’t until almost the end of the book before Owen found a job in Middleton, but their relationship became closer despite the difficulty of carrying on a long distance affair, as they gave themselves to each other with no expectations of forever, allowing the love they couldn’t deny to emerge and thrive.
There was a lot about family which enriched Second Time Lucky and made it much more than a series of funny scenes. The secondary characters were on-page enough that they were three dimensional, contributing to the richness of the story. The MCs were wonderfully crafted, sparkling, and so funny and warm that I loved spending time with them. The one aspect of the book that I thought was wrapped up too conveniently was the situation between Luke and his parents. However I’m giving it a pass since this is, after all, fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters who moved me with the way they integrated their past and present and best of all, there was no insta love. Ethan Day can dish out the hottest sex so I don’t have to tell you it was scorching, but if you’re one of the few readers who hasn’t read any books by this author I’ll tell you that the sex scenes between his protagonists are hot enough to burn the pages.
Second Time Lucky is another gem by Ethan Day. Highly recommended.
NOTE: The publisher is including Anything for You at the back of Second Time Lucky for those readers who buy the print version of the book.