Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Perhaps the most accurate weatherman in San Diego should have tried to be a more attentive driver before he hit another car head on. Drunk and distracted, Gordon Stafford went from the top of the world to killer in seconds. A year and a half later, Gordon has not stopped drinking. Unemployed, alcoholic, with a gun in the vanity drawer, it seems like it is just a matter of time before Gordon and the handgun become better acquainted. Flashbacks from the accident assail him and he has become disconnected from the world. Gordon refuses professional help. Stubborn and stupid at first glance, Gordon does not appear repentant, but his daily visits to the grave site of the man he killed tell another story.
Once his jail sentence is up, Gordon is assigned to do community service and part way through a shift, he is sent to break up an altercation, thus saving a homeless man dubbed “Squirt.” For the first time in a long time, Gordon feels good for having aided Squirt, but when he looks for Squirt at the end of his shift and finds him gone, Gordon is disappointed.
Following a disastrous lunch with his well-meaning mother, Gordon ties one on, again, and when he regains consciousness under an overpass in the Bario, he is taken to safety just before a gang of teens arrives and sets another homeless man on fire. Gordon’s savior is none other than Squirt from the soup kitchen. They feel at ease with each other almost immediately.
Although attracted to Squirt, Gordon see it as more, a chance for them both to pull their lives back together. Gordon admits it is a bit of infatuation, but the guilt and emptiness are lessened with time spent with Squirt. Their relationship grows gradually. Although they like each other, Gordon wants Squirt to make the first move. When Gordon and Squirt get together, Gordon feels like it is time to move on, to start living and working again. Even though both Squirt and Gordon have secrets, their relationship is developing and the men move in together. But when Gordon’s past comes to light, it may ruin things between them.
No one can accuse John Inman of avoiding an emotional topic and I was not impressed with Gordon’s actions at the beginning of the story, especially since it appeared that he had not learned his lesson. Gordon’s character was, to me, extremely well put together, and although I cannot truly understand the stigma he lives with, I felt that his actions and reactions were realistic. Squirt was a less complex character on the surface and it was obvious that something terrible had happened to him in the past, which caused him to appear simple and innocent. However, the saying “still waters run deep” perfectly describes my favorite character.
I found Inman to have also created some great secondary characters, like Gordon’s parole officer, Squirt’s boss, and most notably, Gordon’s mother, who had a relatively small role in the story but packed a real punch, figuratively speaking. The lunch scene had some witty dialogue that had me laughing out loud even though the topic was intense.
The fact that Gordon realizes he is falling apart, but appears unwilling or unable to break the downward spiral he is caught in, also made sense to me. Gordon’s inner thoughts and his steady mental decline demonstrated his regret and although he had support from so many people, until he was able to gain forgiveness, he would never be able to forgive himself.
There was something that did not quite mesh, though it was not really a bad thing, which was Gordon’s forgiveness. He killed someone while driving drunk a mere 18 months prior to the story and it seemed that everyone was ready, willing, and able to forgive him for his stupid drunken recklessness (Gordon’s words, not mine). To a certain extent, I can appreciate the need for forgiveness, as well as the need to forgive, but I am not sure that the timeline made these events realistic.
This is a book that will anger some people simply because of the topic but as I learned while reading Head On, everybody deserves a shot at redemption. You will most likely fall in love with Squirt, just like I did and I firmly believe that the story of Gordon and Squirt will leave you a little bit astounded.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.