I really enjoyed Second Hand. It is written by two of my favorite authors and it features interesting characters and a unique plot.
Paul is stuck. He moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, who promptly dumped him when she found someone richer. He's making ends barely meet by working as an admin at a vet clinic. And when he sees there's a competition to prettify the neighbourhood to the tune of $500, he jumps at the chance for the extra cash. This leads him to El's pawn shop. Paul's ex loved fancy gadgets and even though El knows kitchen stuff doesn't really sell, he takes Paul's stuff so he can keep seeing him. Yeah El knows Paul is straight, but he still has a crush, something he hasn't had in a while, and it's pulling him out of his own rut. Paul's story isn't anything tragic - his mother is a hoarder and that has definitely affected his outlook on life. He leads a simple life and one that he thinks he's happy with. As him and Paul get to know each other and become friends, both men will realize that they've been hiding some pretty deep truths from themselves.
So yeah, I liked this. I love Paul and El and I even liked all the secondary characters (except for Paul's ex). I would say that my only complaint was about Paul. I know people can get stuck on their idea of 'normal' but I just wish that he'd opened his eyes a bit sooner. But since we still got an excellent story, I'm not going to nit pick about that. I did like Paul's character though, he was so oblivious about some things and he was sweet. El was more down to earth and cynical about things. He definitely needed some of Paul's wonder and excitement about the world to pull him out of his funk. They were a well balanced pair. Also, El's rule about being able to take one item to pawn a day? SO CUTE!
As well there were the secondary characters that added to the richness of this story. And I hope that a few of them get their own books!
Before I close, here's a line that I just love:
El took a moment to enjoy the sight of Paul relaxed and beautiful, not awkward or shy, just Paul, the best thing that had happened to an afternoon.
I always struggle writing a review for a book I love. But I hope I've said enough to convince you to give this one a shot. I just wished it hadn't ended! A-