Rating: 3.25 stars
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Marc Jillson has a lot to make up for. His lives in his uncle’s basement and that is where he spends most of his time, not wanting to see anyone. Except his uncle thinks it’s time for Marc to get out again. But going back to school and back to work and seeing the very people he needs to make amends to is difficult. It’s even more difficult when Marc can feel Travis’ gaze on him whenever he is near.
Marc and Travis know each other, they have a history, but Marc didn’t exactly know that he had been anonymously hanging out with Travis online. Marc sees Travis as cool and confident and nothing, not even his wheelchair, seems to get in his way. When Marc and Travis wind up working on a project together to save the local gazebo, the attraction is real and the sparks fly. But Marc knows that Travis is too good for him and Marc has some growing up to do if he ever wants a real chance with Travis.
Although Marc Jillson & the Gazebo is book two of the Love Inscribed series, it is listed in the blurb as a standalone. I am going to disagree with that listing. If major events that already happened are treated as assumed knowledge, that does not make a book a standalone for me. In chapter one, we see Marc hiding away from the world in his uncle’s basement. The previous book is Liam Davis & the Raven, and Liam is referenced in that first chapter. Marc’s former best friend is in jail, Marc goes to visit him, and it is treated as if I was supposed to know all that happened. Since I have not read the first book, I didn’t know all this backstory. Marc’s book is a redemption story, but I didn’t know what he was trying to be redeemed from. The entire book, Marc continually references all the wrongs he has done and all the amends he needs to make. The story with his uncle as well, seemed to be already in progress, and the main thing I got out of reading this book was that it should not have been suggested that I start here. Listing this as a standalone does the book and the reader a great disservice as I was then forced to play an impossible game of catch up to get balance with this story.
Marc has been playing an online game for a few months with someone he thinks is anonymous, but Travis knows he’s playing with Marc and they also have a previous backstory. Travis is a paraplegic, but that doesn’t stop him. He is confident and good looking and Marc’s eyes follow him whenever he sees him—which is often. Travis’ friends tell Marc that Marc is not good enough for Travis, and Marc knows this, but Travis pursues him. There was a passage that started with, “Travis stood,” and while it may have been a figure of speech, Travis is a paraplegic.
While writing a story for the Scribe, where Travis and Marc both work (it was also assumed I knew the entire significant backstory of their job), Travis shows Marc a gazebo and a story and a mystery are born. It seemed that Marc has lived in town for some years, at least six years, so I wasn’t sure why if the gazebo was a well-known landmark, Marc wasn’t familiar with it.
I am going to wrap it up with that. The story itself might have been a good one to follow the first book, but as a standalone, it did not work at all for me.