Aiden’s Luck by Con Riley
Blurb: House-sitting for a friend is supposed to be a lucky break for Aiden Daly. Discovering his new housemate is the image of his first crush turns it into a nightmare. Marco de Luca is obviously interested in being more than housemates, but his resemblance to Aiden’s ideal man seems only skin-deep. Besides, Aiden doesn’t date.
Since his adoptive father’s suicide, Aiden’s first priority has been supporting his remaining family—and shielding them from the truth of their financial situation. Deeply concerned for his mother’s mental health, Aiden remains closeted and lonely, convinced that bad luck is the only luck he’ll ever have.
As if the pressure of keeping his father’s financial secrets weren’t enough to handle, Aiden’s birth father makes contact, sending Aiden’s anxieties spiraling out of control. But it’s a crisis at work that finally brings Aiden to his breaking point. Accepting support from Marco is a gamble, but it could be just what Aiden needs to turn his luck around.
Review: Where do you draw the line between protecting the people you love and shielding them from life’s realities? Aiden’s Luck is an excellent look at how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Aiden is the glue holding his family together, but he’s losing his hold, overwhelmed by keeping his mother and brother in the dark about his father’s gambling debt and subsequent suicide. His mother’s nerves aren’t up for such a revelation, and his brother lives in a protected bubble Aiden manufactured. As children adopted at an older age, Aiden felt it his responsibility that Evan not feel the effects of a less-than-stellar start to life once their family had been chosen.
So Aiden’s about to break under the strain of keeping his family in the lifestyle to which they’d become accustomed, of trying to run his own business, and of avoiding his brother new vigorous sex life with Joel. When a friend’s offer to housesit comes along, it looks like a golden opportunity, but the house comes with an occupant.
It’s when Marco comes into the picture we see Aiden’s cracks beginning to show. He can’t handle one more stressor. It is also, though, when those cracks begin to show, that Aiden sees he can’t go on in the same way. It’s those cracks that allow Marco under his skin. It’s those cracks that break apart the ironclad shell Aiden is hiding behind.
Con Riley is a master of nuance when it comes to characterization. I noted the subtleties in After Ben and they’re present here as well. First Aiden’s iron grip on himself begins to slip, then the questioning starts, and then the break. Once that happens, Aiden is in a prime position for reinvention.
Marco is a huge factor in Aiden’s reinvention, with his whirlwind personality, vibrant attitude, and thirst for living. You don’t see the moment when Aiden goes from avoiding Marco’s huge personality in favor of some peace and quiet to seeking it out in favor of finding internal peace. Then, suddenly, it hits—holy shit! Aiden’s totally wrapped around Marco’s pinky. Which, awwwww.
This is a fantastic look at the way people think they’re doing the right thing, protecting someone, and then it snowballs out of their control. You find who your true friends are in such situations, when the truth comes out. Marco helped Aiden see that, and caught him when all the balls he’d been juggling turned and pelted him on the head.
The reason this didn’t get an A instead of a B is that Con Riley built up these tense moments, put pages and pages of effort into the backstory and buildup, and then when the explosion happened, we didn’t get to see it. Case in point, when Aiden’s family learned of the secrets he’d been keeping. At 80% of the book, we get the therapy session immediately after the conversation with his family, but not the conversation. I would have wanted to know if his mother was as fragile as he was afraid she was. I wanted to see if Evan blew up. But no, it’s told second-hand through therapist visits. This wasn’t the only instance of it, and it’s something I noticed when I read Saving Sean as well. If the buildup for some big thing is done, I want to see the big thing when it happens. Always.
Overall, a very entertaining book, difficult to put down, and well worth the time, but there was room for more. So much more. Solid B.
Reviewed by: Anita