Have your tissues ready. A sweet, sad, yet hopeful read.
- Review by Kazza K
Second Chances spans the time period from October 2000 through to the Epilogue in December 2011. The book is built around Mark Jennings. Also the Jennings family, Mark's partner, Brian, a friend, Antonio and his son, Mark's work, and a young lad named Robbie. The book pretty much opens with Mark's beloved mother dying and the emotional vibe surrounding the family matriach's impending death. It sets the tone for a bit of the book. There is a hopeful note to Second Chances but, to be honest, it also has a melancholic undercurrent. And, yes, I cried.
There are several stories going on in Second Chances. At the epicentre is a friendship between Mark and Antonio, who meet at the beginning, when Mark and his partner, Brian, are separated. The other primary relationship centres around Mark and Brian. Brian has cheated on Mark, do not be concerned if that bothers you, it is not on page. We first meet Mark after he has separated from Brian, through to when he and Brian reconcile and, once again, become partners. There is a lot of love between Mark and Brian, there is also an illness/condtion that is never fully disclosed until well into the book.You can guess, roughly, one or two things but, still, it is kept private. When we meet Antonio he is a masseur who helps with Mark's tension when his mother is dying. They develop a special connection and friendship that continues when Mark and Brian reconcile through to the end; although their relationship changes. There is also a friendship that develops between Mark and a young man, Robbie, who lives at Hope House, a non-profit organization that Mark work's for. Robbie has been living on the streets, and abused prior to Hope House. Antonio also has a son, Jason, who becomes an integral part of the story. Both Robbie and Jason become friends and grow up on page during the book's timeline. I won't elaborate more on the plot.
Second Chances is a well named book because at it's very heart are several second chances - Mark forgives Brian and takes him back, Mark gives Antonio a second chance to become someone better, Mark's wonderful father gets to look out for and love another person in a fostered/adopted arrangement after he loses his wife, someone he gives a second chance to. Sam, Mark's brother gets to have a change of attitude, and more.
What I liked -
While this is obviously a piece of fiction it is also a very real-feel book. Some parts stretched this a bit, but, hey, it's fiction. Second Chances is a heartfelt book about caring people, for the most part, and, also, for the most part, about a pretty decent family. Some siblings are much easier to like than others; it's the same the world over. It's also very much about love, pain, and grief, something I suspect T A Webb has had his fair share of and has poured into this book. I don't know Tom, I can't say for sure, I can only surmise. It's also something plenty of people have had to deal with or will at some time.
Second Chances is a very raw book. The best way for me to qualify that is to say that, while it lacked a multi-dimensional layer, in places, and got a bit bogged down in others, it made up for that in it's passion, and this sort of ballsy, genuineness.
I appreciated Mark's take-no-crap attitude. I also very much admired his 'I'm not going to be a dirty little secret' mentality.
I loved the way they remembered those who were departed. That they were always in their hearts and minds.
I liked that monogamy and the gay community were shown to be quite capable of going hand in hand, if the couple so chooses. Two sides were shown, however, Mark was a firm believer in this way of life. Thank you for that, Tom.
What was on the negative side -
It's a tad long. It just got a bit bogged down a couple of times. However, I kept my reading pace up for the most part, so I certainly must have enjoyed the majority of it.
Way too much about family, for me. I'm not a big lover of this much family detail in my erotic, romance books.
I understand when you're on the inside looking out it can be hard to see someone has feelings for you, BUT, I found it a stretch that Mark did not know Antonio had feelings for him.
I think T A Webb has written a lovely, sweet, yet melancholic book, that does give you hope, and, I believe, faith in some people within our community. The epilogue is lovely and does the book justice. I did enjoy reading Second Chances. I think it will suit people who like writers such as T J Klune. I would recommend this book to people who love a nice, yet, at times, sad, family orientated, romantic book, with some heat, some heart, and a happy ending. You will need tissues.