“Every step of every day felt like dragging my feet through mud. Like ghosting through the day in slow motion.”
Facing his mother’s impending death, increasing responsibilities at work, and betrayal from the man that he loved, Mark Jennings is stressed beyond comprehension. On the recommendation of a friend, Mark seeks out a massage therapist to help relieve some of the stress. After the first strange encounter with his the new therapist, Antonio Roberto, the last thing Mark expects is to become friends with the man. But over time, Mark begins to see Antonio as his best friend and greatest stress relief.
Mark keeps his attraction to Antonio caged after he discovers that Antonio is straight and has a son. But it doesn’t hinder their friendship from growing stronger as time passes. The bond formed between the two men may seem odd to outsiders, but from their point of view, Mark and Antonio create a perfect, open, loving, supportive, and trusting friendship.
After his mother passes, Mark’s ex-boyfriend, Brian, walks back into his life and forgiveness soon follows. Falling in love with Brian is easy seeing as Mark never really fell out of love, but learning to trust Brian again takes time. As the years pass, Mark and Brian forge a more powerful bond, a lasting and beautiful love, and they build a trust stronger than they originally shared. They support each other through tragedy, professional stress, sickness, and loss.
While Mark begins work at a children’s shelter and meets Robbie, a trust forms between the two after a short amount time. Unhappy with his situation, Robbie confides in Mark his secrets and fears. When Robbie runs away from the shelter, Mark, Brian, and Antonio all take the news hard and spend hours searching the streets. Before they can find and bring him home, tragedy strikes and suddenly Mark has to find a way to make it without the missing piece in his life.
Second Chances by T.A. Webb is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year. It is the first solo work from this author and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future. It is a multifaceted story of the bonds of love and friendship, loss and renewal, and remembrance, but most of all it’s a story of second chances. Second chances in love. Second chances in family. Second chances in life.
Mark Jennings is not your average hero. He is a hard ass, crass, and an all-around jerk. And it’s not a defense mechanism, he’s really that guy. But to the people he allows in his life, the people that he cares about, he is loyal, caring, loving, gentle, and fiercely protective. He is a study of contradictions. He is domineering, yet gentle. He’s loud, yet tender. He’s prideful, yet giving. And he’s stubborn, yet thoughtful. He’s one of my favorite characters.
This book is one of family and relationships. It highlights the bonds of a biological family and of chosen family. Mark’s biological family was a big part of this book. His father is a saint. He’s patient, giving, and thoughtful. Mark’s brother and sisters are another story. Some are loving and caring while others are hateful and unforgiving, but Mark always loves his family even if he is not always talking to them. Webb also showcases the chosen family. Brian, Antonio, Jason (Antonio’s son), and Robbie all work themselves into Mark’s life and heart, and become people that Mark finds it hard to do without. They mean as much – sometimes more – to him as his own family.
The relationships that Mark holds dear in his life are beautiful. With Brian, he is gentle, loving and forgiving. Their relationship becomes one of perfect love and trust. It is a beautiful relationship. With Antonio, their relationship begins as a strong and comforting friendship. When things get hard or strange, Mark and Antonio always move past it and grow from it. Their relationship grows stronger and changes into a bond that is tried and tested more than once but holds a love that is unbreakable and lasting. And with Robbie, Mark is a brother and advocate, caring and protective. Their bond is tested, but only grows stronger as their stories progress. And honestly, they are all such beautiful relationships, I’m not sure if I could begin to choose a favorite. They are each lovely and ideal in their own ways.
And, of course, I can’t skip over the title. Second Chances is the perfect title and theme for this fabulous, heart-wrenching tale. And Mark’s heart, no matter how big of a jerk he claims to be, is so huge and forgiving. Mark’s second chance with Brian, his second chance with Antonio, the second chance that Robbie is given to have a family – these are only a few of the many gifts this story has to offer.
Second Chances is a story that will have you laughing one second and crying the next. I struggled several times to read through the tears. I was in love and heartbroken, joyful and distraught all at the same time. I will warn you that once you pick it up and begin reading you will not want to put it down. It is engaging and addicting. This takes you on the journey with his characters, feeling what they feel, experiencing their joys and aches, and all the time keeping you wanting more. I highly, highly recommend Second Chances by T.A. Webb.
Cover: Another masterpiece by Paul Richmond. Perfectly simple in its content while portraying the bittersweet, heavyhearted emotion of the story within. I absolutely love this cover. Gorgeous!