Review: Lynn Van Dorn – Damage Control

Author: Lynn Van Dorn
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: MM

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary: Everything to lose.

Tyler’s worked hard to kick the dust of the Chicago suburbs off his heels and move on with his life as Hollywood’s newest up-and-comer, burying his demons and hiding his scars from the world. Just as everything seems to be going his way, a scandal from his past threatens everything he’s worked for. Now he’s stuck back home, where his family of lawyers can maybe help sink the scandal and find out who’s behind it.

Afraid to love.

Josh doesn’t know what to think when his ex’s little brother falls into his arms, other than that Tyler is trouble with a capital T. But when Tyler’s publicist suggests that an adoring fake boyfriend might be just the ticket to saving Tyler’s acting career, Josh doesn’t mind playing along. It’s not like he has anything else going on, and faking a relationship with someone you’ve known your entire life can’t possibly be that difficult.

A second chance for two damaged hearts.

Now they’re stuck together for the foreseeable future, and neither can deny their mounting attraction. Why should they? They’re supposed to be in love, at least out in public. But in private, when no one is watching, Tyler and Josh grow closer in a way that has nothing to do with their agreed upon arrangement. What do they do when make-believe becomes real, and how can two men with such different lives have a shared future?

Review: There’s nothing I enjoy more than a long, satisfying book, where I can sink my teeth into meaty character images, with an enticingly juicy plot, sides of snarky humor and sharp-witted banter, and all of it heaped with emotion. Tyler and Josh had a palpable connection right from the start but it’s tempered by their differing recollections of shared history. Josh is a dermatologist, 9 years older than Tyler and also the unacknowledged ex-boyfriend of deeply closeted Ryan, Tyler’s brother. The cast also includes Brad, another brother and Josh’s best friend, and Josh’s sister Rachel, who is engaged to Brad. Got it? Yes, I thought the words “soap opera” a time or two, however, topics included in the story are not those you’d ever see on TV. The subject matter is sometimes quite disturbing, yet the mood of the book is mostly hopeful and frequently hilarious. It speaks to the skill of the author in crafting the story.
“Was there some sort of “sorry that our videotaped threesome ended up on the internet” protocol? Maybe he could send an Edible Arrangement. Nothing said, “I hope this hasn’t ruined your life” like pineapple slices cut into daisies.”

It is a long book, but it’s like a valuable item that arrives smothered in wrapping. Every impression I had of Tyler, Josh and nearly all secondary characters was unimpressive at the beginning and each gained added layers throughout the narrative that made most of them more impressive before the end. There are multiple POV’s, but only a few that aren’t from Josh and Tyler and those offer necessary perspective on events. There’s occasional backtracking, revisiting the same scene, filling in missing information but from another POV. The entire book was paced well, and flowed perfectly from my perspective. There’s a fair amount of action and spectacle, plus a little added drama near the end, that might feel a bit overdone. But I liked the rest too much to let it be an issue.

I hung on every word, with one caveat; Tyler’s physical description. Initially I visualized him as much smaller because of misleading phrasing. Their height is discussed early on, putting Tyler between 5’8” and 5’9”, and Josh at 6’. Average height of men in the US is 5’10”. He’s not that short! Yet there are numerous references to the height difference, as if Tyler is dramatically shorter, i.e.: “Like this, or on your back, or… you know, this is the thing with you being so much taller. It decreases our options.” It’s only 3-4” for goodness sake, how are sexual logistics a problem? Drove me nuts because it happened once too often and aggravated me. Still, it didn’t affect the overall quality and enjoyment I got from the plot, so I only took a half point off.

The epilogue is stellar and wraps up a lovely HEA. I’ve deliberately tried to avoid specific details of the story, and I hope people will be encouraged to read it, but I want them to get the fun of meeting and learning the characters, as well as experiencing the impact of the dark undercurrents in their lives. Highly recommended read.

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