Reviewed by Morgan
Title: According to Design
Author: Nicole Dennis
Series: Southern Charm #6
Heroes: Wyatt McBride/Keegan Donaghue
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 230 Pages
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Amid turmoil and triumph, two men weave through all the colors of life to find one another.
As construction on the Charm wraps up, multi-media artist Wyatt McBride creates special metal and glass designs to add the finishing touches. When his brother accepts an overseas military duty, he takes in his teenage nephew, Collin. Things are already upside down since he’s lost a dear friend to AIDS, and now he has to deal with teenage angst and losing his heart to a brilliant but shy teacher.
To keep his mind out of the past, Keegan Donaghue comes to Shore Breeze to take a position as a high-school science teacher and part-time forensics detective for the sheriff’s department. A special student connects him to the local artist, but he’s still running from his past. Addiction and abuse remain there, lurking in his mind, along with mild PTSD-induced panic attacks. Cryptic, troubling emails from his ex-boyfriend don’t help the situation either.
Shy of relationships and opening their hearts to trust, these two men learn to weave their lives together during the trials of daily life. Neither one expects everything to go according to fate.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes involving PTSD, as well as the discussion of, and flashbacks to, domestic violence and drug addiction. There is a scene of assault involving homophobic slurs, a scene of violence and attempted kidnap, as well as a very brief reference to rape.
Review: So, I have to admit that this is 6th in a series, and I hadn’t realized it when I requested it to review. I think I was able to follow along and I don’t know that I missed anything – probably nuances with some secondary characters, things like that. I think, it’d probably have been better read as part of the series, however. I didn’t really connect with this story and had I read the others in the series, I might have felt differently.
That being said, I had a few problems with this book. First, I thought some of the dialog was very stilted and didn’t seem to fit the time or location. Though it took place in the South, there weren’t a lot of “southernisms” and I never felt that sense of location. Collin, a 9th grade student, sometimes spoke like an adult, and didn’t feel his age. Both Keegan and Wyatt spoke in ways that felt too formal.
The pace of the story was very slow. Perhaps that’s a nod to the “southern” part of it’s name, but to me the story seemed to drag. It took until the 28% mark for our MCs to connect in any meaningful way and to the 60% mark for them to grow more intimate than friends. This is saying something, as it’s a medium-long book.
There is a lot going on in this story, hence the length: there’s a death of a friend, addiction recoveries, PTSD, an evil ex, a new nephew/ward, a new job, crimes, art… lots and lots of stuff. It sort of overwhelmed the romance, and as a result, the romance felt a bit slighted and I didn’t feel a lot of connection with our two MCs.
While there was a lot to this and the writing was pretty good, I think that fans of the series would probably really enjoy this. I also think that if you’re in the mood for a slower paced, very complex story, you might enjoy this as well. I will say it seemed like the author knew a bit about art, teaching and crime scenes.
This wasn’t bad, but it didn’t inspire me to jump in and read more of the series.
(As a total side note, I thought Wyatt’s brother, Warren – Collin’s Dad – had a pretty messed up view of parenthood and I wasn’t a fan.)
Overall Impression: It was good
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*