Reviewed by Heather C.
TITLE: The Return
AUTHOR: Brad Boney
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 350 pages
BLURB: Music. Topher Manning rarely thinks about anything else, but his day job as a mechanic doesn’t exactly mesh with his rock star ambitions. Unless he can find a way to unlock all the songs in his head, his band will soon be on the fast track to obscurity.
Then the South by Southwest music festival and a broken-down car drop New York critic Stanton Porter into his life. Stanton offers Topher a ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert, where a hesitant kiss and phantom vibrations from Topher’s cell phone kick off a love story that promises to transcend ordinary possibility.
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The Return brings us the journeys of Topher Manning, a 26 year old mechanic and aspiring musician living in Austin, Texas, and Stanton Porter, a 50 year old widely-known music critic for National Public Radio from New York. Stanton is in Austin for the annual South by Southwest festival and finds himself in a time crunch when his borrowed car breaks down across the street from where Topher works. Topher offers to help him out, and the two immediately connect over their mutual adoration of Bruce Springsteen and all things music. An unexpected kiss kicks off an impossible romance that opens up ‘gay-for-you’ possibilities, controversial age differences, and the fact that the two men have roots set in entirely different parts of the country. Can Topher and Stanton overcome all these obstacles and find their happy-ever-after?
I am absolutely in love with this book! And the cover! I have been impatiently awaiting this book ever since I read The Nothingness of Ben last November and I just couldn’t believe it when I finally had it on my Kindle.
I will not go into all the details of the plot and rehash the storyline…I kinda want to keep those things close to my chest so I don’t spoiler all the good stuff. So, instead, I will point out a few things that made this book so great for me:
The Characters: You may remember that Topher was briefly introduced in The Nothingness of Ben as a coworker of Travis. This book really CANNOT be read as a stand-alone even though Travis and Stanton had no role in TNoB. All the Walsh boys, and many key events that took place in TNoB, were crucial here in The Return. Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of May/December romances, but, I never really felt the age gap between Topher and Stanton, because the two were so compatible…it was like they were destined for each other. Plus, there is just something about Brad’s writing that makes it so easy to care about his characters, and not just the MCs…I’m talking about ALL the secondary characters too; very character focused and driven.
The Music: Much of this story was told through music. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have very limited knowledge about “The Boss,” and the majority of the music discussions went right over my head. But, I can honestly say that I appreciate how the author took the meaning of the music and intertwined it with the characters’ lives. It gave important moments of the story so much more depth and meaning, and actually added to my enjoyment.
The Present and the Past Storylines: The story alternated between Topher’s POV in present day, and Stanton’s POV back in the early ’80s. After some initial disorientation with the blast to the past, I didn’t even notice it anymore and became totally immersed in the flow of the story. I wouldn’t classify this as flashbacks because it felt like two interwoven storylines being told at the same time that were equally important and related. This story wouldn’t have worked any other way, and Brad has executed it seamlessly.
The Dialogue: Just like in TNoB, there was A LOT of talkin’ in this book! The characters talk talk talk leaving no time for the reader to ever get hung up on internal monologues and scenery descriptions. Makes for a fast reading book IMO.
The Atmosphere: The story is set primarily between three different locales: Austin, Fire Island, and New York. And the vivid and vibrant way Brad portrays them left me feeling like I had experienced a little piece of the culture without ever having traveled there before. I also got the feeling that these places are very meaningful to the author.
In summary, I loved everything about this book! And I doubt my words have even come close to doing it justice. If you loved Ben and Travis, I definitely think you will be able to find a place in your heart for Topher and Stanton. True, this story is a bit different, but I promise you all of the charm is still there. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing it, leaving myself with a nasty book-hangover to suffer through the next day.
So, here I am again, impatiently waiting for another ‘Brad Boney’ experience…
Heather C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
To read all her reviews, click the link: HEATHER’S REVIEWS
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