Camille's Reviews > Second Hand

Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan
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Sep 12, 12

bookshelves: m-m-rom-erotica, male-1stp-pov-romance
Read from September 10 to 11, 2012

Ohhhh, I had fun reading this book! I haven't giggled maniacally on the NY subway (where nobody cares cuz there's always someone crazier than you) like this in forever! But this book had me laughing and smiling and sighing (mostly in wonderment at the daftness that is Paul at times) and feeling sad at times, a little empathetic over El's self-imposed loneliness, and mystified that, despite the switch between first and third person p.o.v between characters and the dual authorship, this book kept me riveted.

Having read Cullinan's Dance With Me, which was fantastic, I was both hopeful and wary. Hopeful that she would be able to produce another story with similar depth, insight and emotional texture; wary that I would be able to recognise any signature characterisation and be able, as well, to anticipate the trajectory of her plot's arc. Some writers are as such. You read one book and you've read all their books. Not so with Cullinan, thus far. Though the author does have a thing for laundry mats :-) But this one obsession is fine. It lends relatability and realism to her work and to the worlds of her characters.

There is also, contained within this book, some of the emotional landscaping I was hoping for, but not in the same tenor as with Dance With Me. The register here is significantly lighter in tone, which is fine. Each book has its own ambitions and positioning on the emotional scale that it wishes to hold. While lighter, though, there are still real world issues here with which the characters must contend: hoarding as a psychological illness; alienation from authenticity, sexuality and self; manipulation and advantaging by one character over another; self-imposed isolation and shallowness in relationships with others; failure and disappointment; and my favourite (which I hope continues to be a trope of Cullinan's)-- adjustment when life posits you on a road that vastly differs from the plans you'd made and envisioned yourself fulfilling. The book culminates in the realisation and resolution of these issues (some better than others) and the thankful evolution of the characters.

This is my version of "happily ever after". Growth! Growth which produces tangible, credible, potentially-permanent happiness. By interaction with these issues and by successfully coming to terms with them and subsequently overcoming them, El (who sounded delicious) and Paul find greater happiness in their lives and with each other (note, no co-dependence to make them fulfilled...people need to resolve their own stuff to be happy, not imagine someone else can do that for them solely).

As mentioned, I think El is delish :-) But that isn't just his physical description. I like his maturity, though he had some growing to do, and the way he loves Paul. Paul on the other hand is hilarious and just this side of being ridiculous. I like clueless characters, those slightly slow like in Muscling Through but it needs to be done right. Here, it is. Any further though, and Paul would have been that annoying character with too-low confidence, self-awareness and intelligence to like. As it is, he is well-characterised. This is one of Cullinan's strengths, I believe, great, imperfect characters that make the books real and a real pleasure in which to be immersed.

My points off come from my belief that the issues in this book could have been pushed just that fraction further, the hoarding especially. I also wanted to know more about Paul's best friend. He sort of just drops out of sight along the way...unless there's gonna be a book 2, which I would definitely read.

Good collaboration on this book by authors I plan to partake of further :-)
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Reading Progress

09/10/2012
20.0% 4 comments
09/10/2012
67.0% "Omg, I haven't gotten this caught up in a book in forever. I am smiling and laughing so hard...on the train, in public, oh! It's so funny and cute and Paul is too much..and it has its poignant moments too. Loving it :-D"

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Camille Thanks :-)


Heather K (dentist in my spare time) Love this review- I can count on your for GFY recs!


Camille Heather K (dentist in my spare time) wrote: "Love this review- I can count on your for GFY recs!"

Thanks, luv :-)
That's because we share the same GFY taste....this is still my favourite trope in m/m. Always on the look out for new good ones.


Heather K (dentist in my spare time) Camille wrote: "Heather K (dentist in my spare time) wrote: "Love this review- I can count on your for GFY recs!"

Thanks, luv :-)
That's because we share the same GFY taste....this is still my favourite trope in ..."


We totally do. I bought it today based on your review :)


Heather K (dentist in my spare time) Camille wrote: "Heather K (dentist in my spare time) wrote: "Love this review- I can count on your for GFY recs!"

Thanks, luv :-)
That's because we share the same GFY taste....this is still my favourite trope in ..."


Always, always my favorite trope. I have about 80 on my shelf now, I think.


Camille Awwww, I hope you enjoy it then :-)


message 8: by Lenore (new) - added it

Lenore Hmmmm. I've read a couple Tucker Springs books (one by H. Cullinan, one by M. Sexton) and I didn't particularly enjoy them, to put it mildly. Should I try this one?


Camille Lenore wrote: "Hmmmm. I've read a couple Tucker Springs books (one by H. Cullinan, one by M. Sexton) and I didn't particularly enjoy them, to put it mildly. Should I try this one?"

I read this in my early, enthusiastic m/m days and, while I've come to dislike both Cullinan and Sexton, I do recall quite liking this one.

I think Sexton's sweetness took the edge off Cullinan's depressing 'depth' and vice versa. I'd say give it a try. It is much better than the other Tucker Springs books. They should have quit while they were ahead :-)


message 10: by Lenore (new) - added it

Lenore Camille wrote: "I think Sexton's sweetness took the edge off Cullinan's depressing 'depth' and vice versa. I'd say give it a try. It is much better than the other Tucker Springs books. They should have quit while they were ahead :-) "

Cool then. I'll add it. I'm not very optimistic, but who knows. I might be pleasantly surprised. :)


Camille Ha:-)
Here's hoping. And with low expectations it can only go up.


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