Review: Between the Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth

between the linesRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Short Story


Brad Weston is the chief of staff for a Republican senator and he is very good at his job. While on lunch one day and searching for an anniversary gift for his boyfriend, he finds a curious little shop. Once inside, Brad is drawn to a wooden medallion. The shopkeeper gifts it to him, and Brad soon learns its secret: when he’s holding it, he can hear what people are really thinking. He uses it to his advantage to gain ground on a bill his boss is pushing, but he also hears some disturbing, homophobic thoughts.

Sam Fuller is an intern in the senator’s office, and he’s crushing pretty hard on Brad. When he sees Brad look shaken and distressed, Sam follows him out. Sam is there for him as Brad learns that his boyfriend has lied to him and is also cheating on him. When Brad realizes the extent of the corruption in which his boss is involved, he does something dramatic and necessary. And through it all, Sam is the only one whose thoughts are completely in line with what he says.

So this is a book that knows how to work the confines of short story to its advantage. Everything is here that needs to be. The plot requires a bit of a leap, but if you go with it, then it absolutely works. The writing itself is great. It has a certain flow to it, a smoothness, which works really well. I found myself carried away by the words, absorbed in the story.

Both the MCs, too, were well developed for the amount of space that they had to work with. Brad is a real type A personality, he likes things neat and tidy, and he values fiscal responsibility. Which is why he’s a Republican even though he’s gay. Yes, I would have liked to know a little bit more about his reasoning here, because that can’t be the only reason, but for what it was, it worked, and I was able to accept it. There were a couple of instances where he seemed to go to extreme emotions, and that had me a bit confused, but overall, I really liked him and the way he was portrayed.

Sam, on the other hand, was completely adorable from start to finish. Even though we’re in his head a little less than Brad’s, I felt we got to know him better. His reasons for moving the Sacramento and for taking this job are crystal clear, and he shows us quickly how big his heart is and how he won’t tolerate bullies. I adored him from the start, and I thought he was exactly what Brad needed.

Between the characters and the writing, I liked this story. But here’s where we come to the pure opinion part of the review. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I should have, and I’m not quite sure why that is. Really, it had all the perfect elements to make a nice little short story. All the major plot points were right up my alley. I should have been in love with this story. I wasn’t though. There was just something missing for me to bring it all together.

But don’t let that deter you from giving this one a try if it sounds like one you’d like. It was very well written, and aside for a few over the top plot points that were actually very easy to accept, it’s a nice little story. I can definitely recommend it to anyone who likes stories taking place in the political world, and/or are particularly fond of karmic payback.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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