Book Review – Brush Strokes, by E.S. Karlquist

I would like to preface this by saying that it has been a hot minute since I felt entirely human, and therefore this book review – which I promised E. S. Karlquist I was not too busy to do, and at the time I said so, that was true – is really quite late. I am sorry, though at the time I honestly couldn’t have predicted how very, very low spring allergies were about to lay me.

The good news is that while I was laid up, I had plenty of time to read this charming book – and it is indeed a charming book. I am, it must be said, a real sucker for a charming book.

(okay, sure, I am also a sucker for somewhat dark and violent Scandinavian crime novels, but listen, the two can co-exist, and I contain multitudes)

Todd is shy and a bit awkward, and finds it hard to focus on his college studies while he’s trying to help save the tiny art gallery he works in from being bought out. Daniel is handsome, athletic, and deeply uncomfortable with his family legacy. Todd’s best friend Mela, in her efforts to connect with Daniel’s best friend, inadvertently brings the two together, and they have a sweet, magical evening – only to find out later that Daniel is part of a group that is interested in buying the space that the art gallery, Todd’s place of work and longtime refuge, is occupying.

Both young men are stubborn and proud, but they can’t deny their mutual attraction. Soon enough, their chemistry draws them back together, and they start really getting to know each other. A romance that is not a romance but is definitely a romance if you’re watching from the outside begins to bloom.

Each fellow is relatable in his own way; Todd struggles with school, with his relationship with his older brother, with his efforts to save the safe haven of his childhood and dawning adult years. Daniel is the scion of famous parents who don’t always understand him, and on top of it, he’s Hard of Hearing in a world that doesn’t always do well with accommodating the disabled, and he wants to find a way to provide a safe and welcoming space for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

Todd and Daniel complement each other well; they help each other recognize their strengths, they encourage each other to step out of their comfort zones, and they simply enjoy each other’s company in a warm, sweet way that seems natural and delightful.

That said, they take a bit of time letting their guards completely down with each other, and maybe that’s a little frustrating, or maybe I’m just impatient. 🙂 Fortunately there’s a whole host of excellent supporting characters working to get the two of them to see and admit what’s right before their eyes.

Brush Strokes is a lovely blossom of a love story, well-written and fully enjoyable to read. You can get it through Interlude Press and other book retailers.

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