Frank McCord runs a hardware store in the small, gay friendly town of Stone Acres. His family has lived and worked in the area for a hundred years and solid, boring Frank has kept up the family tradition. With his bow-tie and hometown charm, he does good business. And if he doesn’t have much of a love life, well that’s hardly the end of the world. Then Frank meets new resident Christopher Darling and his son Henry. This tight-knit family of two immediately enchants Frank and they feel the same about him. Tragedy brings them closer together and as Frank embarks on a relationship for the first time, he learns the meaning of love and how to finally acknowledge the truth of himself.
Frank at Heart was a lot like a movie on the Hallmark channel. For some that means you’ll love it. But for me, the comparison isn’t a kind one. This short novel is overly saccharine, lacks much substance, and has a pair of main characters that are nearly as forgettable as the plot. The writing is fine, simple and clean and while there isn’t much depth, nor are there any glaring issues. And if you’re looking for a sweet and easy happily ever after, then Frank at Heart definitely fits the bill.
Frank at Heart stumbled for me by failing to provide meaningful characters. We know very little about Frank or the Darlings and I was never convinced there was anything between Frank and Christopher that I should care about. They exist and say all the right words to one another, but I don’t know why. Their relationship moves at breakneck speed and as a result strains the boundaries of believability. Additionally, Frank decides to completely up-heave and change his life essentially overnight and never stumbles with the decision. This was another point that didn’t strike me very believable and made it hard to accept Frank’s character as anything other than a caricature.
The story arc, such as it is, focuses on an antagonist who threatens Frank. But again, we don’t know why. This character comes off as slightly ridiculous and yet he commits a stunning act of violence. There is some suggestion that he’s obsessed with Frank, but that’s never really explained. Like so much of Frank at Heart, this person exists with no real purpose and comes off as an utterly useless source of conflict.
Frank at Heart didn’t work for me on any level. The characters are poorly defined and lack emotional or physical definition. The plot is scattered and lacks much realism and drifts rather than guides readers. The story is too sweet without any depth. Unless you just adore sappiness, I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.