Josephine Myles- Handle With Care

Author: Josephine Myles
Reviewed by: Lucy
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: MM Contemporary
ISBN 13: 9781609289652

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Ben Lethbridge is a responsible, caring man.  When his parents died, he was quick to step up to care for his younger sister, Zoe, in spite of being an 18-year-old with diabetes.  When Zoe is old enough to be independent  Ben makes up for lost time, partying hard.   Unfortunately, amidst the drinking, slutting and drugs, he manages to get hold of contaminated cocaine.  This has the effect of destroying his kidneys, and had a tragic consequence for someone else.   He is now pretty much confined to his home, going through Dialysate infusions every four hours and waiting for a pancreas/ kidney transplant.

He works at home, and Zoe comes to check on him often.  His only real entertainment is DVD porn, which happens to be delivered by the very adorable, purple-haired skater boy, Ollie.  In Ben’s words, Ollie is “cuter than a Mange-style kitten”.  I loved that description.  Ollie is also cheerful, sweet and funny.   He is the definite high point of Ben’s day, and part of the reason Ben is always ordering new DVDs.

Ben so looks forward to Ollie’s visits, even when he is  surprised by his arrival and answers the door in a bathrobe and giant monster slippers.  They have a little dance they go through, with Ollie being persistently cheerful and Ben trying not to show much the visits mean to him.   As they start to really get to know each other, Ben tends to come across as fearful .  Ollie is not put off by the dialysis tube, the scars, Ben’s crankiness.

When the time comes that Ben will go through the surgery he has been waiting for, Ollie is there for him.  Ben hides behind the surgery in an effort to cover his fear.  His self confidence has taken a hit since going through all this, and it shows in how he dresses, how he carries himself and how he perceives himself.   Zoe begins working on this by forcing him to choose better clothes, and Ollie continues.  Ben can act like a total jerk at times (getting livid with Ollie for washing out the shower due to hair dye being in it or feeling Ollie is babying him) and he lashes out.  He will then try to figure out what he said wrong, even though it’s blatantly obvious to the rest of us (like saying “fucking houseboy twink”).

He also has to deal with Zoe becoming fearful of losing her brother,  hassles going on at work (including an important who) and trying to come to terms with having Ollie in his life.  Ollie notices it and deals with it so maturely.  I felt like Ben made a lot of assumptions and jumped to a lot of conclusions.  Ollie is lovely and wonderful, whether his hair is purple, red or blue.  He has a goal, knows what he wants and works towards it.  This includes Ben, who is a big job.

This is a sweet story, with just adorable Ollie and the cantankerous Ben and his porn collection.   There is a point where Ollie’s embarrassment is so naïve and so sweet, I wanted to just hug him.  Recommended.

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