Garrett Blain is mourning his husband who died of cancer. He wanted a fresh start, so he sold his house, packed his bags, and moved from Seattle to Bluewater Bay, where he is a bartender in a gay bar.
Jesse Connelly works in Bluewater Bay’s comic store. He’s HIV positive, but his numbers are so low as to be non existent. The night he meets Garrett, he’s depressed. He had had a date, but he was stood up. Turns out, Jesse had told the guy he was positive and the guy wasn’t having any of that.
The men hit it off, and they begin a tentative relationship that grows deeper every day. They do have some hurdles, however. Garrett is 15 years older than Jesse, and while Garrett doesn’t care that Jesse’s positive, it does bring about some bad memories about watching his husband die horribly. Also, speaking of Garrett’s husband, people have noticed how much Jesse looks and acts like Garrett’s dead husband, and both he and Jesse start to wonder if that’s the reason Garrett is drawn to him.
Can Garrett and Jesse can overcome all of these outside influences and be happy? Or will they allow them to interfere with the love they both need?
I really enjoyed this book. The characters, including the background characters, were extremely likable, the pace was never off, and I found the situations to be realistic and very possible. L.A. Witt has always written interesting stories with multiple levels that blend together perfectly, so I anticipated New Hand would meet my expectations and then some. I wasn’t wrong.
Garrett and Jesse had such chemistry! It was like they were made for each other. Even though Garrett had been married to a wonderful man, and I’m not discounting that relationship, I am convinced Jesse is was his soulmate. They started with a friendly rapport at the bar, and when they finally realized they were falling for each other, it was electric. Every scene they were in together was perfection. Even when they were having difficulties, their connection was palpable. Some of their scenes were really sweet and funny (like the first time they played Magic: The Gathering together), and others were passionate and sexy. Yes, these two were amazing in the bedroom. Hot, but tender, and oh so…ahem…let’s just say they were amazing to read.
The background characters were all well done, from Jesse’s bosses at the comic book store, to Jesse’s friends, to the actors and tech people on the set of Wolf’s Landing, the television show shot in Bluewater Bay. Each of them played a role in the story. There were quite a few of them, but none of them got in the way of Garrett and Jesse’s love story. They enhanced it. There was a hilarious and charming scene in the hotel room of Jesse’s bosses. Anywhere from 8-10 people were there and they ate pizza and played Magic: The Gathering. One of the attendees was an actor from the show, and Garrett was completely star struck. He couldn’t believe he was in the room with all those people. There were several scenes like that with multiple characters, and it just…worked.
I also liked how L.A. Witt handled Jesse’s HIV positive status. While it wasn’t a constant subject, it wasn’t just skirted over. Jesse was honest with people about it. He had a frank and serious discussion with Garrett about it, and even when it lost him a friend/potential boyfriend, he moved on. I actually found that to be refreshing and inspiring. Garrett knew what could potentially happen, but he didn’t constantly worry about it. It was part of him, but it didn’t define him.
I can’t think of anything about New Hand I didn’t like. I will say, since the guys (and their friends) were big into playing Magic: The Gathering, there’s a good deal of description of the cards and characters. I’ve never played myself, and I don’t know anyone who does. I’ve seen the cards, but only in Target or some other stores. Anyway, a lot of that went completely over my head. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it interesting.
This book is the 23rd and final story in the Bluewater Bay collection. It can be read as a stand alone with no problems. There is enough exposition you can get right into it and know what’s going on. In fact, I’ve read several other books from the series and I’ve never felt lost. Something I think is neat about the series is L.A. Witt is not the only author and a variety of authors contributed books. I love this idea, and I think that’s one of the reasons the series has been able to go on so long.
I highly recommend you pick up and read New Hand. You’ll be in for a sexy, character driven, emotional treat.