Buy Links: Talker and Talker’s Redemption
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella

Rating: 4.75

I read both these books a while back and loved them.  When I heard Amy Lane had a third book out in the series I decided to reread the first two before starting it.  So in this post I will review Talker and Talker’s Redemption and in the following post I’ll review her new story, Talker’s Graduation.

Brian Cooper and Tate (Talker) Walker are best friends and college roommates. They are struggling to make ends meet, working and going to school and living in their shabby apartment.  Brian is a sweet guy with simple needs who is content with the small circle of important people in his life — his Aunt Lyndie who raised him after his parents’ death, his ex-girlfriend Virginia, and Talker.

Talker, on the other hand, is full of physical and emotional scars.  He distracts others from his wounds by refocusing them on his wild appearance – tattoos all over his face and arms, mohawk, eyeliner, flashy clothes.  But these are just ways to protect himself from people seeing the pain he has inside.  The one person who makes him feel safe and loved is Brian.

Brian has always assumed he is straight.  Girls threw themselves at him and he liked them, but there was no passion there. Virginia helps him open his eyes to realize he is gay and in love with Talker.  Yet despite the fact that he admits his feelings to Talker over and over, Talker just can’t let himself believe.  Talker is so in need of love it is almost as if he can’t even bring himself to really imagine that the person who he needs so badly might actually care for him back in a romantic way.

I won’t go into two much detail for fear of spoiling, but Talker suffers through a traumatic incident that pushes him even further into emotional vulnerability.  He is hurting badly and not his usual self.  And Brian reacts to this pain by taking action to fight back and defend Talker. Brian also realizes that he must take some bold action in order to get Talker to really see him, to realize that what they are both looking for is right there in between them.

This story is so sweet and wonderful and full of young love.  Neither man really knows how to deal with their emotions.  Brian has never really learned to communicate as he is not used to a lot of social interaction.  And Talker can talk forever, but is so wounded in so many ways. He wants to find love so badly but he is so scared at the same time. Watching them find each other and realize that what they want most is right there before them is so heartwarming you can’t help but want things to be perfect for them.

This is a short book, somewhere between and short story and a novella, and while it has an appropriate ending, it clearly leaves way for the second book to fully resolve the issues the men face.  They are together and in love, but they still have challenges, primarily helping Talker to heal.

Talker’s Redemption picks up about six months after the first book ends.  It deals primarily with the after effects of the two big events in the first book – what happened to Talker, and the fallout from Brian’s actions.  I will try to be as vague as possible here but it is hard to avoid a bit of spoiling because the books are so directly tied to one another.

Talker and Brian have been going to therapy at school for about six months.  Brian is the only thing keeping Talker together through all of it, but Talker is still not able to admit to Brian, the therapist, or even to himself what really happened that night. And until that happens, they will not be able to move past it and start to heal.  The process is incredibly painful for Brian as well.  He still feels like he should have done more to make Talker see how he felt and perhaps have prevented Talker from ever going out that night.  And  reliving that terrible time when he thought he would lose Talker is so hard for him.

The story alternates between flashing back to the therapy and other events over the past months to the present day where the consequences of Brian’s response to Talker’s attack come back to haunt them.  Brian ends up in the hospital with life threatening injuries and Talker is barely able to hold himself together in the face of Brian’s poor health and questions from the police about the attack.  He realizes that the only way he can really help Brian and put the past behind him is to finally admit to what really happened to him.

Talker’s Redemption is more intense than the first book as it really deals with the aftermath of what happened to Talker.  We get more insight into how close to suicide he had been, and how knowing Brian would be there checking on him was often the only thing holding him together during those months. This book is told from Talker’s point of view (versus Brian’s in the first story), so we also get more detail on exactly what occurred that night as well as more detail about Talker’s fears and anxieties.

One thing I loved about this story is seeing the close circle the men have built around themselves.  Aunt Lyndie, her boyfriend Craig Jeffries, and Dr. Sutherland all come through for them.  Aunt Lyndie especially staunchly defends Talker like he was her own, and he realizes that he does have a family after all, and people who care about him in addition to Brian.

The theme of this story is really about how love gives you strength.  Talker must face his demons and he can only do that for Brian, not for himself.  Watching Talker finally realize that he has the strength to do what needs to be done is really wonderful.  And seeing the love between the two men is just amazing.

It is not all heavy though.  We still get light moments, especially in flash back.  My favorite scene in the book (and the source of one of my new favorite words) is the scene where the guys first have anal sex.

“Mmm…,” Tate sighed, but better, and arched into Brian’s touch. And then refused to give up his bone. “But, don’t you miss… you know, fucking something?”

Brian grimaced and then turned pinker, which meant he was about to talk dirty. Tate watched him try to find words with great delight. It didn’t happen often. “You mean besides your hand or your mouth or your thighs or pretty much any other alternative? Just because it’s not… not… orificial sex doesn’t make it, you know, unofficial sex, right?”

Talker couldn’t help it. He laughed, the sound shaking him from his chest through his stomach to his balls. “Orificial sex?” he howled when he could find breath. “Orificial sex? Oh. My. God! Is that like a word you just made up or something?”

Brian’s ears went from pink to practically purple, and he buried his face in his pillow in embarrassment, and Talker couldn’t help it— he had to kiss that delicate shell of warm, embarrassed ear. Brian wriggled underneath him, and he kissed it again, and then he used the tip of his tongue, and Brian wriggled some more.

I really enjoyed this story and love Talker and Brian.  They are so good together.  Their love and the trust between them is so powerful.  Brian provides the safety and steadiness that Talker needs, and Talker gives Brian the bit of chaos and energy that pushes Brian a bit more out of his shell. It is so good to see them healing in this story, but physically and emotionally.  Both these books are definitely highly recommended.