Crowley Fredericks is at the airport waiting for his flight home when he gets a text from his mother telling him not to bother because no one will pick him up. He came out to her at Thanksgiving, and he knew she wasn’t happy about it, but he never expected that. Defeated and hurt, he heads back to the apartment he shares with his best friend, Tyler Lang. Tyler knows that Crowley’s flight wasn’t really cancelled, and when he finds out the truth, he insists Tyler go home with him for the holidays. Because Tyler’s train is already booked, Crowley goes on an earlier one, and is picked up from the station by Tyler’s twin brother, Averell.
Rell is seen by everyone as a slacker who can’t hold a job. And while it’s true that he’s been fired—again—it’s not because he doesn’t try. Trying to be accommodating to his mom, because he needs a place to stay, Rell picks up Tyler’s friend, thinking he’s about to meet someone who is just like Tyler: pretentious and a hipster. But Crowley is nothing like Tyler and the two men click almost instantly, becoming friends. Though Rell has never looked at another man the way he looks at Crowley, he rolls with it. The attraction is real and deep, and a kiss at a bar leads to so much more.
But Crowley has long suffered from self-esteem issues. He used to weigh much more and he was bullied mercilessly. He still is teased, and guys don’t want him because of the way he looks. He can’t understand why Rell is attracted to him, and his insecurities get in the way. It’s only with the help of Rell and Tyler’s cousin, Sondra, that Crowley begins to see himself in a new light. And once he does, Crowley starts to transform into the man he felt he could be, the one that was lingering just under the surface. Now Crowley and Rell just need to figure out how they can make their relationship last past Christmas.
All I have to say is put this story on your must read list. Going in, I thought I would be reading a nice story about two guys overcoming their obstacles and finding love. And it certainly was that. But it was also so much more. O’Tierney crafted a wonderful tale about self-acceptance and the power that gives a person, and wrapped it up in a beautiful Christmas bow.
Crowley. What can I say about this guy? He is the heart of this story, and it’s his journey we’re on for the most part. He broke my heart and I just wanted to hug him. He’s had some pretty horrible things happen to him—the most recent his mother disowning him—and it’s done quite a number on his self-esteem. But he was real, and believable, and I loved that even though he struggled, he had a strong backbone underneath. He changed a great deal over the course of this novel, but what was so great here was that it all made sense. We saw bits of his strength peeking through, even before Rell came along to get the process going. Crowley may call Rell his catalyst, and he was, but Crowley had it in him the whole time. I loved seeing him learning and growing, and I loved that he wasn’t perfect by the end of the tale. He still needs to work on some things, but now he knows he can.
Though Rell is confident and easy going, he has his own issues to work through. And Crowley helped him do that as well. He wanted to be worthy of Crowley’s love, and for that, he needed to make some changes in his life. That Crowley understands the heart of him helps Rell to see what he can do with his life. That’s one of the reasons these guys work together so well. Yes, their feelings develop fast and go deep. But it’s absolutely believable in this tale. Their connection was so strong, it leapt off the page. Crowley and Rell makes sense, and what they have together is beautiful.
O’Tierney fleshed out the story with well-rounded secondary characters, bringing us a lush tale filled with realness. The Lang family is a wonderful mix of people, each with distinct personalities, which really added to the overall story. Though, I have to admit, Tyler got on my nerves a lot. As much as he cared for and about Crowley, his best friend, he was mostly a jerk to his twin brother. I had mixed feelings about Tyler, but I’m pretty sure I was supposed to. And perhaps we’ll be seeing more of Tyler, if the way the book ended is any indication. If we do, you can believe I’ll be picking that story up.
The prose was sharp and witty, the pacing nearly perfect, and I found myself turning pages, sucked into the story and believing every bit of it. Bowl Full of Cherries is a really fantastic read and I have no qualms about recommending it to you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.