The recession has his Justin hard and he’s lost just about everything. So he’s packed up and is heading to the house his mother left him in the small town where he grew up. With his savings dwindling, Justin decides to buy a pet grooming business. When he goes to the bank to discuss a loan, he discovers the president of that bank is Barry, his high school crush, and the reason he got scared and left for the big city.
Barry has grown up in privilege. Money and status were important to his parents, but it’s never been a priority for him. He continues to think about the summer he spent with Justin. He even calls Justin his “obsession.” Barry secures the loan for Justin, even giving him $20,000 of his own money, and he admits to Justin he’d like to spend more time with him.
After some misunderstandings and mixed signals, the men find themselves together for a night of passion. However, the next day, Barry has a fight with his overbearing mother and the next thing he knows, she’s collapsed from a stroke. Now, Barry wants to re-evaluate his life and this means pushing Justin away. Once he has a plan in place, Barry hopes he and Justin can still be together. The question is…will Justin accept this plan, or will he decide it just won’t work?
When I picked up A New Leash on Life, I’d hoped for a sweet second chance romance with the added bonus of a pet grooming service (because that means doggies!). I’m sorry to say, that’s not what I got. I felt absolutely no connection to Justin or Barry, and frankly, I didn’t feel as if they were connected to each other. There isn’t any chemistry between them, and I didn’t believe them as a couple. I wanted to like them, but found myself being mostly indifferent to them.
I may not have cared for the men, but I can say I understood them. The recession is rough, and we are still feeling it in our house. So, Justin being out of work due to the recession is an unfortunate and timely issue. Barry’s feelings and identity crisis are also understandable, and a revelation toward the end plays into it. Still, I can’t seem to feel sympathetic to either of them. To me, they come off as almost petulant, and that turns me off a story pretty quickly.
As for the writing, it’s rather choppy, and the dialogue feels stilted and a little too formal and often doesn’t feel natural to me.
After his mother’s stroke, Barry does something I feel is out of character. From the beginning, he’s the one who seems more interested in picking pack up with Justin. So, when he pushes Justin away at the hospital, I was confused. Especially because Justin was obviously hurt. I can say I am happy Barry seemed to come around about his life, and that turned the story around a bit for me. Sadly, it was too little, too late.
The ending ties up neatly as expected. It seems a bit sudden to me, but since the story is a novella rather than a full novel, there is time to consider. Speaking of that, I do feel like A New Leash on Life has a good foundation, and I believe if it could have been longer it would go a long way to improving it. I’d have liked to know what made the men tick, and I just didn’t get that here.