I have finally taken the leap into reading eBooks. As I don’t have a Kindle or a Nook or any other cute monikered device, I simply download them to my trusty Mac and hunch over the screen for a few hours, letting my eyes narrow to slits and my behind grow numb! Luckily, my first few forays into eFiction have been well worth it. Chief among these successful experiences is Harper Fox’s debut from Carina Press, Life After Joe.
Matthew, an English medical intern, is pretty much a mess after his childhood sweetheart, Joe, leaves him for a woman. Bent on self-destruction (though he doesn’t quite realize that’s how dire his predicament is) Matthew’s entire life changes course when he meets Aaron, a quiet, charismatic oil rigger.
With Joe, I’d moved along an expected track in a world I helped create from day to day. Aaron—I don’t know; it was as if he carried a larger universe around with him, stars in his black hair, far horizons in his eyes.
Matthew’s exposure to that larger universe jolts him out of his unhealthy patterns, from drunken nights at clubs and his reliance on anonymous sex and booze. Though Life After Joe is easily summarized as a tale of second chances, it’s so much more than that. Fox has a beautiful turn of phrase, and she brings these characters to life in a way that touches the reader and elicits empathy. Burned by Joe, Matthew has suspicions about what secrets Aaron may have…and Aaron seems to fear that this man he helped heal isn’t really his to keep. The reader travels with them as they work out those issues, and there were several times where I choked up. Fox doesn’t shy away from how much it hurts to lose someone, and just how far you can sink before you fight to stand on your own two feet.
It’s a fast read, chock full of emotional highs, gut-wrenching lows, and a very unexpected route to the characters’ rapprochement. And I wanted more. I wanted to spend more time with Matthew and Aaron falling in love, learning about their past and their future. But, don’t worry, reaching the end of their story wasn’t a complete bummer…because now I can’t wait to meet more characters crafted by Harper Fox’s talented hands!