I love LA Witt's writing, but when one of my friends would ask for a recommendation from this author's backlist, I wouldn't give her this title as a first LA Witt book to try. There are other ones, which will give a better impression of Witt's voice and skills. Where Nerves End is still an above average and well-written book, I just didn't feel the same connection as I did with other of her titles. However, I did like the set-up and certain elements of Where Nerves End.L.A. WittWhere Nerves End (Tucker Springs #1)Amber Allure, June 3, 2012 | 180 pages, 61k words
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Welcome to Tucker Springs, Colorado: Population, 70-something-thousand. Home to beautiful mountain views, two respected universities, and a ridiculously high cost of living.
Jason Davis can handle a breakup. And an overwhelming mortgage. And a struggling business. And the excruciating pain that keeps him up at night thanks to a shoulder injury. Handling all of it at once? Not so much. When his shoulder finally pushes him to a breaking point, he takes a friend’s advice and gives acupuncture a try.
Michael Whitman is a single dad struggling to make ends meet. When a mutual friend refers a patient, and that patient suggests a roommate arrangement to alleviate their respective financial strains, Michael jumps at the opportunity.
Living together would be easy if Jason wasn’t so damned attracted to Michael. Good thing Michael’s straight, or the temptation might just be too much.
Well, their mutual friend says Michael is straight…
Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Acupuncture, Financial Problems, Fatherhood, Dealing with Pain, Coming Out, Nightclub, Ex-Wife
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames
The story takes place in Tucker Springs, a town in Colorado that will be the setting of more stories in this series to follow (the second installment is called Second Hand and is written by authors Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan, a third, Dirty Laundry, is due to be released later this month). Tucker Springs is home to Jason Davis, owner of a nightclub and a house he both can barely afford anymore after his boyfriend and business partner left him. On top of his financial problems he has excruciating pains due to a shoulder injury. When things start to become too much to handle he follows the advice of a friend and goes to an acupuncturist.
Here's where the second main character is introduced. Michael, the acupuncturist, is also struggling to make the ends meet, and when Jason becomes his patient their fates seem to be sealed. At first they only are friends, after all, Michael is straight and a single dad too. Jason offers Michael and his young son, a living arrangement, because with Michael renting rooms at his house it will alleviate both their financial problems. This sounded like a good idea when Jason suggested it, except that Jason's attraction for Michael grows with every night they spend under the same roof and he's struggling to keep his feelings a secret.
So far the story did work very well for me. I liked the set-up, the introduction of the main and the secondary characters, the sexual tension between and the characterization of the two protags and the slow way things developed between them. And the descriptions of Jason's shoulder pain were done so incredibly well and realistic, they made me cringe.
However, from the moment Michael begins to realize he feels an attraction for Jason too, it felt as if the story arc started slowly slipping away or rather was kept too tense for me to be able to enjoy it to the end. The conflict felt artificial, especially when Jason starts refusing Michael's late-night pain treatments because of his physical reactions to the sexy man. Also, Michael's way of handling his feelings for another man, first by 'testing' them with a one-night stand then later by regretting his budding relationship with Jason and denying them both what they really want.
I don't know exactly what it was that didn't make me feel the connection that I so much need to empathize with the MCs. It's a bit harsh to say but I started to get bored. Maybe it was the abundant repeats like those of the descriptions of Jason's pain. A pain for which there was by that time such an obvious and easy solution, if only Jason would get over himself. Or perhaps it was Michael’s illogical reasoning to step away from a physical relationship with Jason that felt over-amplified to me.
And in the end, the way Michael’s eventual coming-out to his ex-wife and son was handled, didn’t make it much better either, because it felt a bit unnatural: more like the wrap-up of a loose thread than a really important and emotional moment. Except, maybe by then, I wasn’t quite objective anymore, because I already experienced a slight disappointment due to my expectations based on previous experience of emotional investment with Witt’s characters.
So, although this is a well-written story, with a unique coupling and memorable elements, it’s not my favorite book of this author. But like I said, it’s still an above average story and I enjoyed reading it, just not as much as I hoped.