Title ~ Head-On
Author ~ John Inman
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 9th July 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance
At twenty-six, Gordon Stafford figures his days are numbered. At least he hopes they are. Wearied by guilt and regret stemming from a horrific automobile accident two years earlier in which a man was killed, Gordon wakes up every morning with thoughts of suicide. While the law puts Gordon to work atoning for his sins, personal redemption is far harder to come by.
Then Squirt—a simple homeless man with his own crosses to bear—saves Gordon from a terrible fate. Overnight, Gordon finds not only a new light to follow, and maybe even a purpose to his life, but also the possibility of love waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Gordon never imagined he’d discover a way to forgive himself, and in doing so, open his heart enough to gain acceptance and love—from the very person he hurt the most.
Taking a step away from your usual MO isn't always a good move, especially when your fans know and love you for a certain style. In John Inman's case it's his ability to take any type of story line and infuse it with a mixture of heart felt emotion and laugh out loud humour that can sometimes be slapstick, sometimes a bit on the black side but always a perfect blend for whatever subject matter he chooses, whether it's a crime/mystery/thriller, spooky ghost story, zombie invasion or just a good old fashioned m/m contemporary romance filled with his loveable, trademark quirky characters and their equally memorable pets.
If anyone gets funny right it's Mr Inman but this time he HAS taken that step and really pulled back on the hilarity we know him best for. Producing a truly heart rending, thought provoking, emotional love story set around two broken men and their journey to becoming whole again. One barely surviving because of a self inflicted tragedy and the terrible guilt arising from it that threatens to break him as each day passes. And the other a sweet fragile soul; homeless and emotionally scarred to the point where he's mentally shut himself away from real life. A sad but endearing trait that gives him an innocent, almost childlike quality. It's this that draws the two of them together and starts the healing process that will hopefully fix them...but it isn't without its heart wrenching trials and tribulations.
"That boy's got an angel in him Gordon. I can feel it. And he's fragile. I don't know what he's been through in his life, but whatever it was, I think it left him pure, if you understand what I'm saying. He's a good but damaged soul, Gordon. Treat him with care. Will you promise me you'll do that?"
And it all starts when successful, up and coming weather man Gordon Stafford makes two stupid decisions that end in the death of a young, innocent man. First of all to drive totally shit faced and secondly to pick up his phone and text whilst on the move, causing a terrible car accident that puts Gordon in jail for a year. Losing him his career and setting him on a path to self destruction and a guilt trip that drives him to indulge in meaningless sex and alcohol to try and forget the painful memories of the screams that haunt him from the night of the accident. The only thing that stops him from hitting total rock bottom (a state he's teetering on the brink of as the loaded gun he keeps in his bathroom sink drawer reminds him every day) is the community service he's been ordered to serve at a local homeless shelter, run by a wonderful warm, sympathetic, loving character called Mama Davis, and it's there he first sets eyes the beautiful, homeless Squirt, saving him from being beaten by some punk, teen hustlers. Almost instantly something about this small, sweet helpless man calls to him, igniting the tiny spark of life inside him, and he begins to look forward to his days at the shelter, hoping he'll see Squirt again instead of reaching for the mind numbing booze he's fast becoming reliant on. Unfortunately Squirt disappears off the scene for a while, until one night a frightening nightmare causes Gordon to lapse and drink again. He wanders off in a drunken state and the result is a situation that puts him in the path of real danger until Squirt suddenly appears and saves him. The experience they share is really sad and traumatic but it brings them closer. However it sets the ball rolling towards a very poignant, tear jerking event which then leads to an extremely moving ending that touched me deeply and had me reaching for handfuls of tissues.
'It wasn't just sexual attraction, although it was certainly a part of it. But it had more to do with Squirt's aura of innocence. His simplicity. The fact that he always seemed to be teetering on the edge of either great happiness or great distress, but never really fell into either. There was a calmness to Squirt. It soothed Gordon's mind and eased his fears. That tranquility was like a drug, and as time went by, Gordon found himself craving it more and more.'
So I guess the question is does John pull it off? Well, the fact that I practically spent the last four chapters and the epilogue in buckets of tears, crying so hard that I could hardly make out the words on my kindle probably answers that query, because that's exactly what this lovely story did to me, and I wallowed in every tear I shed! Although I have to stress that this was never a dark or gloomy read...far from it— it still had its lighter moments with a more gentle humour in parts and a love story that was at times heart stoppingly romantic, as were the love scenes when the two of them consummated their relationship. But sex wasn't the main focus of this story, it was more about the healing power of love and it was a joy to read.
I always cry at some point in one of his books because laughter and tears as separate emotions should go hand in hand when comedy is written well, but this outburst had built up over the course of the story, topping up my 'Feelings Meter' with each tender moment and every emotional onslaught until it all just reached tipping point and the floodgates opened....getting more intense as I got to know both Squirt, the adorable, tow headed angel who repaired Gordon's broken heart and totally stole mine, and I think everyone else's who reads this...and former 'San Diego's Most Accurate Weatherman' who because of his irresponsible actions shouldn't have endeared himself to me, but who I found myself growing first, to like, then to love, as he struggled with the immense burden of guilt that was slowly dragging him down, his moving daily visits to the graveside of the man he killed, showing that this wasn't a totally thoughtless man, just one who was paying a price for not thinking right at a crucial moment in time. Squirt becoming the beacon of light in his life that would finally allow the seed of self forgiveness to grow inside him.
I have to say, once again, Head-On was a love at first read for me and it just confirms why I always get territorial and do the "HANDS OFF IT'S MINE!" routine whenever a new John story comes up for release and why his casts of vibrant, three dimensional characters always find their way into my heart and forever onto my kindle. Two words...READ THIS!!
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A Word from John Inman
First off, let me say thank you to Macky and everyone at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for being kind enough to invite me here today. Since it is release day for my newest Dreamspinner Press romance, HEAD-ON, I'm really excited. Release days are always a hoot. I never know which end is up. Well, no, that's not true. I always know which end is up. Well, no, I don't. See what I mean?
Anyway, I love writing and reading romance so I hope everyone enjoys HEAD-ON. It's not my usual fare. No donut battles or giant hogs or basement ghosts. Just two damaged men coming together to find love at a time when love is least expected to show itself. I love romances like that. I hope you do too.
And speaking of romance, I should also mention my next release will be in October. Two releases actually. The first will be a romantic comedy titled WORK IN PROGRESS. It's a sequel to SERENADING STANLEY. Yep. By popular demand, we're going back to the Belladonna Arms to visit with the goofy tenants there. Hopefully the trip will be good for a few laughs. And as an extra bonus, we may ever see a few tears this time around.
Also in October, I'll be releasing a horror novel called WILLOW MAN. It's really spooky, or so my editors tell me. It is the first true horror story I've ever written and I'm really excited about its release.
So as you can see, there are some pretty cool books coming up. I hope you'll try to sample a few of them along the way.
To all my readers, I want to say thanks for everything. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July and are looking forward to a happy, healthy summer. Thanks once again to Macky and the gang at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. You guys are the best.
And please, whatever you all do out there -- keep reading!!
About John Inman
John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie. John's advice for anyone who wishes to be a writer? "Set time aside to write every day and do it. Don't be afraid to share what you've written. Feedback is important. When a rejection slip comes in, just tear it up and try again. Keep mailing stuff out. Keep writing and rewriting and then rewrite one more time. Every minute of the struggle is worth it in the end, so don't give up. Ever. Remember that publishers are a lot like lovers. Sometimes you have to look a long time to find the one that's right for you."
You can contact John at email@example.com
John will be gifting one lucky reader an e-copy of Head-On, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.