Author: Josephine Myles
Length: 150 pages
Like two ships passing in the night—if one was a narrowboat and the other a luxury yacht.
Disgraced private school teacher Giles Rathbourne has been sent home on extended sick-leave and is stuck in a rut of obsessive housework and drinking. His ex may have been a snobbish bastard, but without him, Giles is adrift, rattling around his huge, lonely house. When a dreadlocked narrowboater’s engine breaks down at the end of his canal-side garden, Giles is furious at this invasion of his privacy—for a while.
Smutty might not have ever held down a proper job, but the fire-dancing, free-spirited traveller can recognise an opportunity for mutual benefit when he sees it. Giles’ extensive gardens are in as desperate need of attention as the upper-class hunk is himself, whereas Smutty knows a thing or two about plants and needs a place to moor up.
A simple business arrangement between two men who have nothing else in common? It would be—if they could keep their hands off each other!
For those readers who were fascinated by the long-boat culture in Barging In will enjoy this second foray into the experience, although most of the action takes place off-boat. Giles' life kind of sucks. His ex left him and after a drunken flip-out on his students he's been put on administration leave. He spends his days obsessively cleaning and his nights drinking himself to sleep. He's not impressed when the freaky guy in the long boat ends up at the end of his garden, although really, the boat is broken, what can he do, besides basically tell him to move along. However despite his better judgment he's kind of curious about the flame haired supposed fire dancer, and ends up going for a visit that evening, which turns into more than a visit.
I'll be honest. At first Giles is damned annoying. He has this habit of putting his foot in it more often than not. He comes across as a bit of a jerk, who probably thinks he's better than most and a bit weak. Especially when you see him interact with his ex. However I adored free-spirit Smutty right off the bat. I have a feeling there is some part of me that wishes I could be like that, just travel, do whatever, see the world, no responsibilities, no commitments. Sigh. However once you get to know Giles he's not such a jerk after all and his defence of Smutty whose had some nasty run-ins with guys in bars was sweet and touching, for the reader and Smutty who'd never really had anyone stand up for him before.
I loved seeing Smutty bring about a change in Giles. Sex on the kitchen table? How "unsanitary". Maybe? Is it? Could he? Perhaps. And he's not alone. Giles makes Smutty think about some things that happened to him as a young man and the hurts he's still holding onto that affect how he looks at life and his need to keep on moving. But his exuberant good nature can't help but drag Giles out of the doldrums and Giles even manages to stand up to his ex a bit. An ex who appears to be a psychopath, not in the murder you and wear your skin way, but in a callous no feelings way which based on his history didn't really surprise me.
The only odd little niggle I had was the odds of Giles' ex and Smutty having a connection, although I suppose Smutty did grow up not that far from Giles, but still, I kind of thought "hmmm, what are the odds?" but hey, it worked with the story and by then I was totally invested in Smutty and Giles so I was okay with it. It's a very sweet story of opposites who bring out the best in each other and make changes in their lives for the better.
Oh and if you've never seen a fire dancer do their thing at night, it's amazing and if you get the chance do it. I've seen them perform after dark and it's probably dangerous as anything but it's dazzling and a true skill I wouldn't even attempt. I was very happy with the way it ended and it was a real pleasure and kept me coming back to it while I was reading. I have a tendency to get distracted while I read and I will read a bit then surf or watch TV and read a bit, but this one kept dragging me back as I wanted to see how it was all going to go. Definitely worth a read so pick it up as soon as you can or sign up for the author's newsletter and get a code for a free download. Free people, seriously, hop to it.