“A Match Made in a Want Ad”
When they say be careful what you wish for, do you pay attention?
Neither did Oliver Tunstead.
Oliver wishes for nothing more than to get his mind off his crappy bartending job, pile of debt big enough to swallow him whole, and playboy ex-boyfriend/boss who refuses to back off. Too bad distractions, like the hot little convertible he has his eye on, cost megabucks. And Oliver is flat broke. Renting the spare bedroom in his rundown beachfront cottage is his only option to pick up the cash he needs–a risky proposition, as Oliver is the polar opposite of a people-person. When he responds to a bizarre ad in the Waterfront Gazette seeking summer housing, he gets more than he bargained for. But Oliver can cope… After all, how much harm can a single quirky tenant do to his tightly guarded life in three short months?
Where Oliver is a loner by design, urban cowboy Bodie is a loner by necessity. A family dispute long ago dropkicked him onto the path of a lifelong wanderer. This changes when Bodie moves into the tiny beachfront cottage and starts working the door at Oliver’s bar.
Despite Oliver and Bodie’s nearly paralyzing instinct to avoid commitment, they fall into a wary romance. And to their surprise, life as a couple is sweetly satisfying; that is, until their jealous boss devises a cruel plan to destroy the tentative bond they’ve built. True to form, Bodie hits the road, leaving Oliver to lick his wounds alone.
Can these wounded souls defy their urge to flee and fight for love?
Okay, so before I begin this review I have to take the biggest, deepest breath. Guys, this story left me with the heaviest book hangover I have had in a long, long time. It’s taken me days of writing and rewriting this review to finally feel like I could do it justice.
I’m actually going to start with, I think, my only complaint and I am starting there because this needs to be said before going any further for those reading my review. On the listings for this story on NetGalley, Amazon, and Goodreads there aren’t any trigger warnings/content warnings. This is probably my only issue because there are heavy topics tackled in this book that warrant a pretty strong warning. Childhood emotional abuse and childhood sexual abuse are both referenced. On page there are a couple instances of violence, one of which ends in a very graphic near rape. Again, off page, there is a non consensual act that, while not actually referred to as rape, is rape and occurs in their current timeline.
I think the lack of sufficient warnings is something the author and publisher should heavily consider. I was personally tipped off by a fellow reader ahead of time, fortunately, but not all readers would have this benefit and really should know ahead of time what they are getting themselves into.
Now that I’ve said that, I need to quickly switch gears and transition into gushing over this story. I have some personal readerly tastes as all readers do and one of those is that I really, really, REALLY do not like stories written in a single POV, first person, present tense. As in I avoid those stories like the plague.
However with Born For Leaving, I was practically in the third chapter before the lightbulb finally flashed over my head and I realized that it was written in first person, present tense and we won’t even discuss how much longer it took for it to sink in that it was single POV.
How is that even possible, you might be asking. Easy. This story was so expertly written, so beautifully woven, and so utterly gripping that I was oblivious to absolutely everything but the tale itself. As a person who reads A LOT and writes A LOT it is so rare that I lose myself so completely within the actual words of the story that I don’t notice something that is normally a great big, fat nope for me.
Immediately Oliver grabbed my heart and held it tight through the entire story. I connected with his need for sanctuary and solitude deeply. He was a perfectly crafted character that didn’t need very long for me to form an attachment that was meaningful.
Let’s just give a quick run down of the premise because I practically forgot that when writing this review. So Oliver works for his sleazy ex (and OMG I looooooooathed Jack) as a mixologist at a bar. He sees an ad from a stranger requesting a room to rent for the summer and takes a leap to invite the guy to check out his place. The five hundred a month rent will help Oliver get the car of his dreams a little faster.
And that guy is Bodie. Oh heaven help me with Bodie. From the moment he arrived at Oliver’s house to see the accommodations (and this is, quite cleverly, not the first time Bodie and Oliver meet) their is an undeniable spark between the two men, although Oliver is certain Bodie is straight so his fantasies must remain locked in his lusty little brain.
Because living together isn’t tempting and confusing enough for Oliver, they are also coworkers. Yup, our adorable little Bodie is the bouncer Oliver has been waiting for to handle the overly enthusiastic drunk clientele at the bar. A position Oliver had to fill in on in between mixing drinks. While Jack played Candy Crush rather than actually managing the bar he owns. And this? Probably one of Jack’s BETTER moments. Nope. Not kidding.
There are so many twists and turns and absolute soul-crushing moments of heartbreaking devastation when long held secrets are revealed that my review would be a book in itself to recap it all and wouldn’t even come close to doing the story justice. When I tell you that these are two broken boys just looking for love and acceptance, that is a complete and total understatement.
In the interest of full disclosure, had this story not been written so exquisitely and each and every characters created and molded with such beauty and care, the lack of CW/TW would have resulted in—at the very least—a 1 or 2 star loss on my review and, quite possibly, me even scrapping the read and returning it to the publisher with a refusal to review. When I say that Born for Leaving overcame many of my own personal readerly biases as well as my deep concerns about the absence of warnings to rank as one of my favorite reads of 2020, that is a weighty statement.
Born for Leaving is an emotional roller coaster than takes you on incredible highs and gut wrenching lows that I can’t possibly summarize and, even if I could, wouldn’t come close to being crafted as poignantly and beautifully as Ms. Munro did in the story. This is a book I can’t possibly recommend highly enough, but please keep in mind the warnings I listed above.