All Breakages Must Be Paid For, Morgan Starr
Publisher: Carter Seagrove Project
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Looking for a Parent, Friends as Family, Eroticism, Romance
Length: Novella (DK Length)
Reviewer: Kazza K
Purchase At: amazon.com
Dan, who is just turning eighteen, is looking for his dad who left sixteen years ago without any explanation. Dan’s only clue to his whereabouts is based on a postcard that his gran had received shortly after his disappearance. What starts out as a search for his father turns into a personal odyssey – and what he finds is nothing like what he expects.
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Dan Mentor is eighteen, he has a rocky relationship with his mother, step father, Gary, and his brothers. He doesn’t want to go to university. He’s sick of working at Gary’s business as slave labour and, more than anything else, he wants to know why his dad up and left sixteen years ago. His brothers don’t seem to give much thought to their biological father but Dan does. He’s also the one who is very close to his paternal grandmother and visits her all the time. Gran is something else, she drinks excessively, swears like a trooper and loves to smoke some weed. Not only that, at eighty seven, she has a fuck buddy of her own. His gran gives Dan a postcard she received from her son just after he left. It’s from Salcombe, Devon. It’s a long shot but Dan wants to go there to see what he can find out for both him and his Gran.
All Breakages Must Be Paid For is about family and friends. Sam, Dan’s oldest brother surprises him when Dan’s leaving home. Denise, a lady Dan meets on his trek to Salcombe, who has worked her way up in business and done well for herself, appreciates that Dan has ideas and is prepared to give them a shot. That he cares enough to be looking for his dad. She gives him good advice, which he heeds. As they part ways Denise also hands him her email and phone number, in case he ever needs a hand.
As I get to the end and the fish and chip shop, the lady is sticking a notice in the window. Help wanted. Apply Within. Ask for Cate. What did Denise say? “… a place to stay, food and transport – the trifecta …”
Cate owns a fish and chip shop in Salcombe and gives Dan a job and a place to stay in a bedsit above the shop. Her young son, Terry, was killed in a motorbike accident one night sixteen years ago when he rode off as a passenger with his boyfriend, Jesse. Cate misses her only child a great deal and she sees some of her son in Dan. She’s a good person, nurturing and genuinely kind, the world needs more Cates. Jesse still lives in Salcombe and Cate sees him every day, goes to Terry’s grave with him annually, holds no grudges. It’s a testament to the person she is because Jesse was older and pretty reckless. Jesse is sniffing around Dan and Cate is reasonable, because she cares about Jesse, but is also protective of Dan, even though you know it would be a difficult situation and trigger for her.
“Actions speaking louder than words, Dan … Jessie is just as much at fault … and if you don’t mind me saying, it shows a complete lack of respect for you and Ringo … let it all cool off …”
Dan enjoys working for Cate but his passion is to have an online store of vintage and retro goods. He’s thought about where to source them, what he wants and to how to get things going. Eventually he asks for business support from Denise who is happy to help out. There’s also this kind of cathartic, growing mother-son relationship of Dan and Cate, which is nice. And, of course, there’s also the sexual interests and liaisons of Dan and coming out, too. One liaison is Ringo, Dan’s friend-with-benefits from his home town who also moves to Salcombe, supposedly because he misses Dan. But both Ringo and Dan are young and don’t have experience outside one another. There’s also the (still) guilt-ridden and off-kilter Jesse who initially latches onto Dan, then Ringo. Dan has just turned eighteen and has pretty strong desires and hormones so he easily develops feelings. All pretty typical. When Dan and Ringo aren’t exactly stable or right an Andy Murray look-a-like, Alex, comes to Salcombe and catches Dan’s eye. Alex is twenty five, studying elsewhere and from a family of doctors. He’s good for Dan because he’s stable and has options he’s exploring career wise.
Dan looking for his dad wasn’t as strong an arc as it could have been, and was conveniently resolved but, still, I felt really invested in Dan’s story; he’s an uncomplicated and knockabout narrator. I also liked Cate a great deal and Denise, although she isn’t in it a lot. Gran was a card who made me think of Catherine Tate’s ‘nan’ on a few occasions. The pairing of Alex and Dan was sweet, angst free and gives romance readers a HEA. Most of the characters brought something to the story, uncertainty, life’s (in)experience, a sense of family, friendship and caring… and I liked that a whole lot.
While there is nothing new, per se, in All Breakages Must Be Paid For, I really enjoyed the delivery. It’s a coming of age story of a young guy who feels restless and stuck. Who needs to move on and find something that he deems is missing – his dad, his independence. To explore his sexuality and see what happens. To pursue a dream of his own making, not something his distant mum or stepdad thinks he should do.
The common thread that makes me come back to Morgan Starr’s stories is that they’re about everyday people. They’re also British stories, complete with British vernacular, and I enjoy that. There’s no superheroes, no alphas, no huge angst, millionaires or billionaires, just ordinary people trying to find themselves or grab a bit of happiness. While the novella is a romance there are several partners for Dan along the way, for those who like to know. It is erotic in parts but the sex is not at the expense of the overall story. Speaking of, the story does supply an epilogue and a sweet HEA. Overall, I really liked the characters. I liked the primary voice of Dan. I was in the mood for All Breakages Must Be Paid For – it’s a nice, easy, comfy read, and cost me all of $0.99 cents. Thoroughly enjoyable – 4 Stars!