Title: You Had Me at Hero
Author: Michael P. Thomas
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary, Interracial
Publisher: JMS Books
When seventeen-year-old Mark Potts fell from a balcony, he lost both the use of his legs and any faith in heroes. Now twenty-nine, he’s long-since come to terms with his injury. His job provides more opportunities for eye-rolling than for riding to anybody’s rescue, but with two kids to bring up, he barely has time for his husband, much less for heroics. Besides, Starr Bradford is a policeman — how many heroes does one family need?
Mark and Starr love each other madly, but stress management is a load-bearing pillar of their happiness. When Mark’s coping skills fail him at exactly the wrong moment, he’s left hanging by a thread of words he should’ve kept in his mouth. He has the power to repair their relationship, but when Starr’s workday suddenly goes south, will he get to wield it? Keeping it together long enough to find out is a job worthy of any superhero!
JMS Books: http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29_94&products_id=2008
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6XBBMF/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6XBBMF/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01N6XBBMF/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B01N6XBBMF/
The 911 call center was tucked into a park in the middle of town. Mark and Starr lived in a neighborhood of post-World War II brick ranch houses east of the park, barely a five-minute drive at three in the morning. Even after being corralled by Coretta, Mark was out of his clothes, out of his chair, and into the bed by three-thirty, with his arms around his husband at three-thirty and about two seconds. Geeze but it felt good to cuddle up next to Starr. Any trace of a world that might exist outside their bed fizzled away as soon as they were in it together. Even if he tried, which he had long given up doing, he couldn’t focus on a worry, couldn’t retain the residue from even the most stressful call. With Starr in his arms, there was no room left for fear, no way to also hold on to doubt. With Starr in a patrol car and two sons careening through life in America while being black, these things were easy enough to find during the day, but in the quiet dark, Starr’s body throwing heat like rocks in a sauna, Mark’s defenses—which Starr assured him were more finely tuned than most people’s—melted away.
When Starr rolled over with the whoosh of a contented sigh to take Mark in his own arms, Mark knew he was safe. He knew he was loved. And when his hand followed a hunch along the ridge of Starr’s muscled belly, he knew he was desired. He took a great handful of Starr’s warm, heavy balls and watched a sleepy grin spread across his face.
This mumbled verification always made Mark laugh. As opposed to…? “No. It’s a jewel thief,” he said, gathering Starr’s balls and giving his sac a tug. “I just struck it rich.”
The grin grew and Starr rolled onto his back. “Take whatever you want, just please don’t hurt me.”
This was a very sweet book. Mark and Starr have been married for a while and have two children. They’re not the most typical family, not only because the boys have two dads. Mark is in a wheelchair after an accident as a teenager.
Mark is blond haired, blue eyed, while his husband and sons are black. Whilst this is not played on in any way, it does throw up a mirror to some important issues. From people asking which part of Africa his son comes from to a caller to the emergency line where Mark works accusing a young man of “probably” carrying a weapon just because he’s black, Mark and his family face prejudice every day. Mark heartaches about his son’s future while Starr takes a more fatalistic stance. “Surround our boys with love and teach them to be good men, and that’s all we can do.”
Both Mark and Starr are very family oriented and the first two thirds of the book paints a beautiful picture of their strong family unit and some of the difficulties they overcome together. Then a horrible little worm insinuates itself in Mark’s brain when Starr starts spending guy time with a friend. They hang out at bars which isn’t Mark’s thing and he starts to suspect Starr likes being with his new friend more than him. This leads to stupid accusations he regrets immediately afterwards. Unfortunately the argument led to them not parting with their usual loving words.
When Starr is injured during a shooting, Mark finds himself envisioning a life without him and realised he can’t. This puts a lot of things into perspective.
Nothing about the book is particularly angsty, although there is plenty of action. There are some beautiful phrases (eg “The unshared kiss swirled in the space between them…) and lovely little details, like the content of some of Mark’s 911 calls, which are sad, funny and maddening.
There are many kinds of heroes and, in my view, both these men qualify. Starr, as a police officer put his life on the line, while Mark straddles the line between 911 operator and homemaker. The two boys seem well adjusted, funny and cute, and they couldn’t want for better fathers or a more stable home life.
The book could very easily have slipped into twee – everything a little too perfect, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t have the feel of many other books I’ve read, where the happy ever after has to be fought for and is almost a reward for going through everything the world throws at them. Although there’s no doubt these two have to duck their fair share of incoming issues, there is a sense right from the start that they’re going to be fine and the HEA comes very easily to them. Not that this is a criticism in any way. It’s lovely to read about a strong, equal partnership and a family where everything just works. It’s like peeing through the net curtains and being bathed in warm family life.
I loved this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Prize: $20 Amazon Gift Card
About the author
Michael P. Thomas is a flight attendant whose writing is continually inspired by his work with the flying public, who flatly refuse to be boring. The author of three novel-length gay romances and a number of romantic and erotic shorts, he writes gay fiction because when he was coming out he sure was glad to have it to read. After misspending his youth in San Francisco, he now lives in his native Colorado with his husband.