Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 3 hours, 47 minutes
Thomas Elkin is in love with Cooper Jones, and Cooper loves him back. Though they are still living separately, the men spend as much time as they can together. Tom has mostly gotten over his issue with the age gap between them, and he’s so proud of Cooper as Cooper starts his career.
But now that they’re settled, it’s time to start sharing their relationship with family. Tom’s son, Ryan’s, birthday is their first chance, and Tom’s ex-wife does not take it well. But Tom and Cooper are solid, and despite her objections, they won’t let it deter them. But it doesn’t stop there, because Cooper’s parents, who would normally be happy that Cooper has fallen in love, are also stuck on the age difference, and they, too, don’t take the news well. It takes its toll on Tom and Cooper, but the men work through it, supporting each other.
The final hurdle is telling Tom’s parents, which also includes coming out for Tom, as his parents don’t yet know he’s gay. But when tragedy strikes, Tom’s entire world changes. In his grief, Tom leans on Cooper, and as he comes to terms with it all, he needs to reevaluate what’s most important.
Clarity of Lines is the second book in the Thomas Elkin trilogy, and these books need to be enjoyed in order, since the story continues to build between the main couple. After having enjoyed the first one so thoroughly, I was glad to continue along with Russo narrating Tom’s journey as he continues self-discovery and his love with Cooper.
There’s a lot going on in this book, but it flows incredibly well. Tom and Cooper are finding their way in their relationship, and I loved that while it’s not completely smooth sailing, these guys can navigate any hurdle that comes in their path. Cooper has a teasing, fun-loving attitude that pulls Tom out of his shell, and it’s clear the love between them is strong. In this book, the narrative centers around Tom’s further efforts at coming out, and the impact outside influences—namely family—have on their relationship. Things could have gone very wrong for the MCs as so many people in their lives have issues with the age difference between them. There’s a really nice tension throughout the story that drives the plot. It’s a delicate balance the author walks, showing the love between the MCs and their willingness to overcome obstacles, but also their insecurities and moments of doubt. It serves to give this book a real and believable feeling, without straying too far into overly angsty territory.
Tom’s grief and how much it affects him is another thing the author explores well. Though I had read these books before, it had been a long time, so as I was listening to the latter part of the story, I had a sense of worry and fear for how things would go, particularly between Tom and Cooper. But Walker does an exceptional job, giving the reader, as well as Tom, exactly what he needs.
Russo once again delivers a treat of a book in the narration. First of all, the voices of the characters, both MC and secondary, are consistent throughout the series, which I particularly enjoy. It was easy to recognize each one, and easy to fall back into the world listening to Russo’s voice. The production is great as well, and Russo’s performance adds to the emotion of the story, especially in the latter half. It was easy to feel Tom’s pain here, and I found myself struck by how deep it went. I continue to really enjoy Russo’s interpretation of Cooper, in particular, as he truly captures the spirit of the character. There are, however, certain dialect choices and inflections throughout that really stick out to me, with certain words in particular. It does draw me out of the story on occasion when I hear these. But really, it’s a small thing in the grand scheme of a well done audio.
N.R. Walker is an easy recommendation from me in most instances, and this series is no exception. If audio is your thing, then definitely pick up this series.