Head-On, John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Angst, Contemporary
Of all the books I’ve read over the years, there are exactly three authors whose books I know I will be reading before I ever see a blurb. It doesn’t matter what the book is about. I know I will be reading it. John Inman is one of those authors. I have read all of his adult books and have yet to be disappointed in any way. If he writes it, I know I’ll enjoy it. This applies to Head-On as well.
Gordon Stafford is at the top of the world. He has a great job as a meteorologist at a popular television station. He’s on tap to win an Emmy. He has the fancy house, the fancy car, the fancy life. Life is better than good for the twenty-four-year-old man.
Until suddenly it’s not.
In the blink of an eye, Gordon’s world comes crashing down.
One moment of distraction and Gordon’s wonderful life is gone in an instant.
Head-On starts with a prologue showing the reader what happens in that instant. You will see it coming and want to turn away but you know you can’t. You have to watch as Gordon’s life and the lives of others are irrevocably changed.
Gordon is punished for that instant but it doesn’t matter what the justice system does to him, he knows it’s not enough – could never be enough. He serves his time and does his community service but none of that compares to the guilt and shame that he feels every moment of every day.
Then he meets a small, homeless man who goes by the name Squirt. At Mama’s Soup Kitchen, Gordon, now twenty-six, does his community service and helps Mama Davis feed those who might not get fed otherwise. Three teenage bullies attack Squirt and Gordon rushes to his rescue. Later, Squirt returns the favor in a big way. This begins an odd relationship between the two men, but what it does for Gordon is allow him to start living again. For a year and a half he has drank himself into a stupor in order to forget that one lapse in judgment. When Squirt comes into his life, everything changes.
Squirt has his own problems, only they aren’t as obvious. You know something major is there, but he’s not as open with things as Gordon is. There are reasons why he’s not, and this comes out as the story plays out. While Gordon is an open book (in more ways than one), Squirt is a mystery. There is a lot about Squirt that the reader is not privy to until long into the story. However, parts are somewhat easy to figure out if you look hard enough. While I knew in my heart where his story was going, it really got to me when it did.
Squirt makes Gordon want to start living again. Gordon gives Squirt the love he so desperately wants and needs. But what happens when secrets come out in a big way? I will say this – it made me cry like a little girl. Hell, the entire book had me in tears. Don’t get me wrong, not every line in the story is tissue-worthy, but it does make you stop and think. You stop and think about the many times you allowed yourself to get distracted while driving. “What’s one little drink? I’m fine to drive.” Or “Sure, I can shoot off a quick text while I’m driving. It’s no big deal. I’ll be fine.” This story proves the dangers of drinking while driving and the dangers of that one little distraction of typing a text. All it takes is one second to change your life and those of others around you. John Inman wrote that part of the story brilliantly. It’s too common these days and I applaud the author for not shying away from the real dangers. In Head-On it cost a man his life, and while Gordon didn’t die in that accident, he might as well have. That one instant of distraction almost destroyed him.
I adored Squirt from his introduction. By the end of the book I was in love with him. He’s so kind, so compassionate, and he’s just what Gordon needs. Unfortunately, Squirt has been unable to deal with his own past issues and when everything comes to light, Gordon may lose the one man who gave him the will to start living again.
This is not the classic laugh-out-loud-make-you-giggle-so-much-you’re-in-tears John Inman type of story, but if you read A Hard Winter Rain by him way back when (my first and forever my favorite) you know that he writes serious every bit as good as he does humor. There’s not a lot of humor in Head-On and it’s not expected. The story is quite serious, as is the message behind it. You will hurt for Gordon, though you might feel bad for doing so after the damage he caused to so many lives. You’ll adore sweet Squirt from the onset and want to just hold him and fix everything. You will be rooting for these guys to find their much needed happily-ever-after. In the end, you’ll be thrilled that you were along for the ride. There’s a lot more I could say about this story, but I refuse to give anything away so I’m stopping here.
This is an outstanding book. It will make you smile. It will make you cry. It will make you rethink a lot of things you may do every day. You’ll adore all the characters, including one very special secondary, Mama Davis. There are also a few surprises thrown in that I’m sure you won’t see coming. This is also a story about forgiveness, forgiving oneself and being forgiven by others. I’m not sure I could be as big of a person as one specific character in this story. That really got to me in a very big way.
As with this author’s other books, I highly recommend this.
This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.