Inertia by Amelia C. Gormley
Blurb: AN OBJECT AT REST
Quiet, down-to-earth Detroit handyman Derrick Chance has had enough loss for a lifetime and he has no intention of ever risking his heart again. Living alone in the old house his grandparents left him, with only his dog and a few close friends for companionship, he has written off the possibility of romance or even sex. He refuses to consider himself lonely, or wonder what he might be missing. His life is organized, predictable, and, best of all, risk-free.
Until the day he installs shelves for accountant Gavin Hayes. With his contradictory combination of confidence and self-doubt, Gavin draws Derrick in with an intensity he’s never known. As undeniable as gravity, Derrick finds himself falling for Gavin in defiance of all his usual slow and methodical ways. But Gavin carries wounds of his own. Fresh from an emotionally abusive relationship that ended with a dangerous betrayal, his future is far from certain. Can Derrick choose passion over safety, and let himself believe that Gavin is worth the risk?
Review: I love a strong, silent type, and who could embody that more than Derrick Chance? A handyman who has been single for 10 years who doesn’t even recognize if someone’s flirting with him, let alone know how to flirt back, well… That just melts my butter. *channeling Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias* His ineptitude with returning Gavin’s playful innuendos is cute, as is his shyness, but also his insistence on giving the banter a shot makes him intriguing from the beginning. For someone who is so hell-bent on staying alone, he can’t seem to help himself. The inevitability of it all made me grin knowingly a few times. Don’t fight it, Derrick. You’ll lose. And yet win at the same time. Score!
The confident, cocky type doesn’t really do much for me, and at first Gavin Hayes seems like that. But while Derrick may be inept at attraction and everything after it, he’s bright enough to recognize bravado when he sees it and Gavin has a certain vulnerability that kept his cockiness from rubbing me completely wrong. Brazen and aggressive in some moments, unsure and concerned at making Derrick uncomfortable in others, Gavin is more difficult to grasp at first, but as the story unfolds, we find out why. And oh, it’s a big why. I wanted to hug Gavin, but was happy when Derrick decided to do it for me.
Both of these men would be happy to flirt and leave it at that but for the spark of chemistry that keeps them thinking of each other. I’m not one to mind first person narrative even if it keeps me confined to only one character’s head, but this story pulled it off better than most. Derrick is an observant guy. He sees things, notices Gavin’s confidence, his surety in his own skin, and that glimpse of occasional insecurity that makes him human, but Derrick never seems omniscient like some first-person narrators I’ve read, and I liked discovering Gavin through Derrick’s eyes, even as I was cheering Derrick on as he debated stepping outside his comfort zone. While Derrick’s past has kept him inert (thus the title) in almost all areas of his life, that doesn’t translate to dead. Given his past, the grief he shoved down after losing his parents and caring for his grandparents in their convalescence, it’s no wonder he’s afraid to get close to anyone. They all leave.
I’ve had moments like that, where I want to hold out my arms, lock my elbows, and declare at least a five foot radius of personal space. No one’s gettin’ past these walls. Trouble is, life doesn’t work that way. Sure, there are dickheads in the world (namely Gavin’s ex, because dude is a douchebag and a half) but most people are inherently good.
This is true of Gavin and Derrick. While they’re flawed, as evidenced by a communication problem on Derrick’s end and a rush to judgment on Gavin’s, they’re human, and drawn to each other like a tornado to a trailer park. The characterization makes sense, the writing is descriptive and editing is not an issue at all (go self-published author getting decent editing!). The cover is beautiful and I liked the formatting that put a snippet of the picture at the top of every chapter.
There are a couple quibbles, however. First, the buildup to the relationship between Derrick and Gavin was wholly believable and intricately woven, but once they sleep together, all that emotion is swept away in sex scenes. There’s A LOT of sex in the last part of the book. I’m all for the nookie, and let’s face it, readin’ it’s the only way I’m gettin’ close to it these days, ahem. But, and maybe this is just ‘cuz I’m a girl and can’t get into a guy’s head so don’t know any better, but it seemed that once the sex happened, it’s all they wanted. The connection Gormley painstakingly constructed in the beginning gets swept away by the need to get their rocks off as often as possible in the last third.
The other quibble I have is the abrupt ending. I realize this book is the first of a trilogy, so the story is not yet complete. I tend to like my series to have two facets to them– 1.) the individual books tell a complete story, and 2.) the overall series has a bigger story that encompasses each book within it. Think Harry Potter. Each book tells it’s own smaller tale while still constructing the pieces of the overall arc of the series, i.e. Harry and Voldemort will battle and one will remain standing. Inertia, while most definitely building into the whole series arc, didn’t have much in the way of a story wrap beyond Derrick and Gavin getting together. Truthfully, while there was some measure of conflict, it centered around the baggage the two men have and none of that baggage gets resolved, merely put on hold with the start of their relationship. I finished the book feeling like it was merely a setup book, and that the ending, while certainly pleasant, didn’t resolve much of anything. As a standalone book, it could have used more conflict and therefore resolution. As the first of a series, it did its job setting up the players, layering in their pasts, and positioning them for the next installment. But this vaguely unsatisfied feeling I got as I realized the end was upon me is the reason this didn’t get a solid B rating.
I did look forward to Acceleration (book 2, which I’ve read and will review this weekend) and the final book of the series, which I have a feeling will surprise me. Overall, a very readable, enjoyable story that has the potential to be even better as the rest of the trilogy is released.