Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
From the age of seven to sixteen, my daughter had a chinchilla named Quel. I remember watching with amusement when we would put the sand bath canister into Quel’s cage and how he would flip his entire plump little body around, tossing the sand with an almost gleeful air, bathing in it. And, of course, I remember having to replace his stick hut every few weeks as he gnawed it straight down to the wires that held it together. So, imagine my delight when a new novel by Alex Kidwell landed in my inbox and one of the main characters was none other than a chinch—a man who shifted into a chinchilla. I laughed out loud and as I read this book.
Gumption & Gumshoes is, by far, one of the best novels I have ever read. Smart, witty, sweet (oh so tenderly sweet), and deliciously sexy, this clever whodunit mystery novel kept me smiling from ear to ear the entire way through. The story revolves around August Mendez, a handsome, overweight, thirty-year old who is used to people never giving him a second glance. He works in a dead end job that he hates, until a death in the family provides an inheritance that will fund his dream job as a “gumshoe” detective. He rents a small space inside a building owned by the withdrawn, gruff, and bitter Sam Ewing.
Sam, in a word, is hot—or as August views it, everything he is not and therefore absolutely unattainable. However, as Sam watches and argues with himself over how much he would like to approach August, the young man in question has taken on a case that is about to become more dangerous than he bargained for and will find himself turning to Sam for help. As these two men dance around their desire for each other, they are drawn closer and closer to the feelings they each secretly harbor for the other. Meanwhile, the simple case August thought he was handed explodes into an embezzlement scheme that will ultimately threaten his life and the life of the man with whom he is falling in love.
There are multiple scenes in this novel that just swept me away, both emotionally and humorously. The many times that author Alex Kidwell showed us the very raw pain that August felt because he was so sure he would be rejected due to his weight, his clumsiness, his shy and sweet personality, I was just overwhelmed by the reaction it stirred in me towards this character. Much like Sam, I wanted to wrap “Auggie” up in my arms and keep him safe, tell him he was loved. And then there was Sam. So wounded and torn apart by his ex-husband, having lost everything from his dog and house to their mutual friends, Sam wavers on the brink of becoming a bitter, middle-aged man. Several years older than August, Sam is drawn to big men, and August is adorable both inside and out.
The sand bath scene where Sam helps August rub the sand into his skin becomes this incredibly sensuous and intensely intimate moment. The many times poor August chews on his pencils to soothe his nerves and the first time Sam holds August in his chinchilla form are among some of the sweetest moments in the novel.
The side characters from August’ parents, to the bookkeeper who helps the two men break the case, are just icing on the cake. Sharp and witty, this supporting cast only lends authenticity to this remarkable love story. All the elements of this story just clicked. The slow and steady burn between these two men, their doubts about their appeal to each other, their love that grew stronger and stronger despite their second guessing —it all added up to one of the most entertaining novels I have ever read.
Without a doubt, author Alex Kidwell is one of the most truly gifted storytellers of this genre. I highly recommend her novel, Gumption & Gumshoes to you.