Wes is the kind of guy who can’t seem to stay still or satisfied. He doesn’t like to let too many people in and he always seems to sabotage any opportunity to be happy. We find Wes packing his things and moving out of the place he shares with his boyfriend…while his boyfriend is away on business to avoid having to come face to face with him. Things don’t work out according to plan, and his boyfriend comes home early. They argue, and Wes finds himself calling his brother asking for a place to stay. To say Wes’s brother is unhappy is an understatement, but he lets him come anyway, and Wes moves into the basement.
Sam is the single father of Wes’s niece’s best friend. He’s gay, and there is an attraction between him and Wes, but Sam doesn’t necessarily want a relationship, and Wes is always afraid he’ll mess up a good thing, so a no strings attached arrangement is made between the two men. Things seem to be going along smoothly until both of them start feeling like they may want more, but they’re afraid to actually talk to each other, so misunderstandings abound.
Can they get past their stubbornness and be happy? Or will they be stuck in limbo, trying to keep things the status quo?
Clean Slate was a decent book. I really liked Wes, even though I wanted to throttle him through most of the story. He was fundamentally convinced he was a bad and irresponsible person (through no fault of his own). He’s carrying a heavy burden, and it’s given him a complex. This is why he can’t seem to relax and just be happy. He loves his family, though, even though his brother thinks he’s a bit of a loser. Wes’s niece, Kelsey, is his favorite person in the world, and their relationship is very sweet. As the story progresses, Wes seems to find his place in the world, taking his professional organizing skills and parlaying them into a cash business helping the neighbors organize their closets, garages, and basements.
One of his clients is Sam. Sam’s daughter, Maya, is Kelsey’s best friend. The girls are joined at the hip, so Sam and Wes wind up spending quite a bit of time together. Sam is tired of being celibate, but he thinks a relationship might be too much to handle between his job and raising a teenager. Sam is a great guy, and I felt for him. He was lonely, and nobody should be lonely. So, I was really rooting for him and Wes.
Another thing I thought was cool was the idea of a professional organizing business. Speaking as someone with a messy closet and a junk room that’s overflowing, I’d love to hire someone to come and rescue me from the clutter. Wes’s career was written in an excellent way. So well, in fact, it could be the perfect business plan for any budding entrepreneur.
Wes and Sam have a great chemistry. They had a nice balance of sweet and heat. Sam seemed almost innocent, and Wes wasn’t an opportunist trying to take advantage of him. In fact, Wes was the one who fell sooner, and that surprised me. Sam had given him a reason to finally want to stay in one place.
Now, here comes my personal issue. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s important enough to me to mention. Just when everything was going great, something happens to make every single person in this book, except Wes, act so completely out of character my brain nearly exploded. I was so furious, I nearly put the book down. I pressed on, though, because I figured it took a good writer to cause me to feel such strong emotions. I want to make it clear, my anger did absolutely did not influence my star rating. I just wanted to let you all know there are a few chapters that may tick you off.
All in all, I recommend Clean Slate. It’s a story that emphasizes the importance of trust and family. It also shows how a strong bond can be formed no matter how casual you think things are. I wouldn’t hesitate to read more stories by Heidi Champa.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.