Embarrassingly, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. AND I’ve already purchased a copy of Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs #1)…and will read it later this month. And will probably now follow the series forever because this first one I’ve read was fun and easy to read.
I received a copy of this novel via NetGalley as I wanted something fun and light to kick off The Literary Others LGBT October event and I am glad I chose this. This response is my honest opinion and I received no compensation for it.
I really shouldn’t say I’m embarrassed I enjoyed reading Second Hand. There is nothing to be embarrassed by, really, unless you’re me and you flush crimson at any sort of intimate scene. I mean I’ve already purchased the other novel in the series, so I must’ve enjoyed it.
The reason Second Hand was so good is that it is first and foremost a romance novel, and it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. There’s not a lot of deeper meaning to the novel, but it’s still full of emotion and, predictable to me at least, twists and turns. It was a quick and relaxing read and made me smile constantly, which is always a plus. I liked the characters and even found them mostly believable, Paul was a little too oblivious, but when I think about how oblivious I am I can only imagine a bit more so and I’d be just as bad as Paul, so still believable.
If there was one thing about the novel that I didn’t like, it was the cover. For some reason I imagined both El and Paul differently. First, I imagined them to look a little older and a little more worn. It’s not that I don’t mind the men on the cover, but I particularly got the feeling that El was a bit more rugged and a bit more worn-out from life, facial-scruff alone does not this make. Paul I could see a bit more in the character on the front, but again I imagined him different.
The Literary Others Synthesis
There were two things that struck me particularly about this novel when it comes to reading it for LGBT History month.
First was the handling of Paul’s sexuality. Is he gay? Is he Bi? Is he just curious? Should it really matter? I don’t mind that Paul’s sexuality was fluid and I don’t think it matters overall in the story. I’m a firm believer that you love who you love and I’ll fight for your right to call yourself whatever you want regardless. I do think it was a little bit of a cop-out of the authors to all of a sudden reveal that he had same-sex tendencies in his adolescence, but it didn’t destroy the book for me.
The second thing was that the authors were both female. Now this didn’t bother me so much as it intrigues me. I remember during my MA degree discussing the rise of women readers and writers of male-male erotica and novels with male-male intimate scenes. We spent a lot of time discussing the idea that women are able to embody the idea of being both the active and passive participant in a sexual relationship better than many men. I can’t compare any novels written by men with same-sex scenes that weren’t just there for descriptive sake, but I will definitely keep an eye out in the future.
Recommendation: Read it! I thoroughly enjoyed it and may go back and re-read it at some point because it just made me smile. But, do be warned there are intimate male-male scenes, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Opening Line: “Going into the pawnshop was a mistake.”
Closing Line: “‘That’s enough for me,’ El said, drew their mouths together, and sealed the bargain with a kiss.” (Whited out.)