John is about to get caught in a snowstorm and decides to go into a café, have a cuppa, and wait it out. It’s crowded because lots of other people decided to do the same thing. Since he’s a very large man, John has a bit of trouble negotiating the crowd and knocks a table, spilling the occupant’s coffee. Utterly embarrassed, John offers to buy the gorgeous man a new drink and asks if can share the table.
Chris is a blind man, just relaxing in his favorite café, when he hears the voice of the clumsy man who bumped into his table. Chris loves John’s voice so much, he begins flirting and even asks him out on a date. When he notices Chris is blind, John believes he should say no, but he is so attracted to Chris, instead he says yes.
Tea is a character driven story. Once I got into the rhythm of things, I found myself becoming attached to John and Chris…especially John. He suffers from low self esteem and is concerned about what people think of him. Not only is he huge, he’s tattooed, and some people would describe him as “thuggish.” John’s anything but a thug, though. He’s a gentle giant whose heart is as big as his body. I don’t want to give the whole story away, but I will say he has reason for concern and is afraid of what others might say if they see him with a blind man. Thanks to the author’s skillful attention to detail, I was able to “see” what John looked and hear what he sounded like. The same goes for Chris. From the moment I read his description, I was able to imagine his hair, his smile, and his eyes.
Chris is also a great character. He’s got a lot going on. Not only is he blind, he’s a severe epileptic. He has between three and five seizures a week. One of those seizures was the reason for the fall that cost him his sight (it happened when he was a child). I think what I liked most about Chris was his ability to roll with the punches. He doesn’t let his blindness and epilepsy stop him from living his life. He also has a very supportive family…mother, father, stepparents…who love him very much. I loved how he flirted with John at the café. I swooned when he told him:
“You have a voice,” Chris said, “like the hot afterburn of whiskey.”
“Smooth, liquid, and so easy to bask in. Like being drunk and not caring.”
See what I mean? This leads me into the author’s writing style. It was beautiful…almost poetic. The paragraphs and dialogue had a magnificent flow. The story had a lot of detail, but it was anything but overwhelming. I got sucked in and stayed sucked in. And oh, the romance! John was so enamored with Chris, he wanted to spoil him and show him off and impress him. When their relationship became physical, he always referred to it as making love, even though Chris would refer to it is fucking. Again, swoon.
As I said, I don’t want to give too much away. John does have some self esteem issues…always had, I think, but an awful event took place and a lot of trouble came from that event. Even his sister/roommate became concerned when she learned Chris was blind. The situation begins to work itself out in what I consider to be a realistic way. There was no insta-solution, and it didn’t wrap up in a neat bow. I was impressed by this because, had this been “real life,” it couldn’t be taken care of in a matter of a few months.
All in all, I am really happy I read Tea. It was a fantastic story with amazing characters and I can’t recommend it enough. Matthew J. Metzger is a new author to me, and I wouldn’t hesitate to read some of his other work.