By Helena Stone
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When everything changes, can renewal bring redemption?
Shane Boyle left Dublin for America, burning most of his bridges, certain his future lay in Florida. When a family crisis forces him back to the city he grew up in, he knows his life will never be the same again. With his sister close to death, his mother and five-year-old nephew Danny need him not just to be around but also to be the rock they can depend on. Torn between panic about his new responsibilities and despair at his impending loss, love and a relationship are the last thing on his mind.
Chris Anderson left Australia for Dublin ten years ago with no intention of ever going back. For reasons he can’t explain, even to himself, he hasn’t been in a relationship for almost as long as he’s been in Ireland. Now thirty-five years old, he wonders what happened to his dream of a lasting bond and a family to call his own.
When Shane and Chris hook up one night in a pub, neither knows that the next day they’ll meet again, this time as colleagues in a tattoo parlour. Chris has no idea about Shane’s dodgy past and Shane can’t figure out the mountain of a man who refuses to take no for an answer. Having to reinvent his whole life is only the start of Shane’s process of renewal. Will Chris turn out to be his savior or his downfall?
As much as I enjoyed Patience and Equality, the first two books in the Dublin Virtues series, I shamelessly admit that Renewal – for me – is handily my favorite and left a far greater impression on me.
For those who have already read the first two books and been introduced to Renewal’s main characters Chris and Shane, any and all preconceived notions should be left at the door before opening the book. Chris is still the solid, well-rounded nice guy, but he’s so much more than that. His patience, protectiveness, and fairness is undoubtedly almost surreal, but also overwhelmingly refreshing. Shane, on the other hand, is no longer the poor excuse for a human being that readers have been led to believe.
Chris and Shane connect initially thanks to an impromptu hook-up at a bar, only to come face-to-face as colleagues the next day. Chris can’t explain why he feels so protective towards Shane, while Shane – who continually pushes Chris away from getting to know him any better – finds himself trying to deny his attraction to the strapping Australian. Shane is confident that once Chris hears his boss Troy’s version of how he treated him before taking off for the States, Chris will want nothing to do with him. To avoid rejection and heartache, Shane tries to construct a barrier between them, but he’s unprepared for Chris’s real reaction and resilience.
Renewal was a heartwarming read for me. Yes, I wanted to beat Shane over the head with a broom for constantly pushing Chris away, but his reasons for doing so were logical, if not valid or justified. And witnessing Shane’s transformation from absolute scum to human – and his subsequent interactions with Troy and Xander – were plausible and very well scripted.
The scenes between Shane and his sister actually brought me to tears – that takes talent – and his mother’s efforts to clue Chris in to who Shane really is and what he needed were endearing. Even though the physical/emotional consummation between Chris and Shane took a while to come to fruition, the wait was definitely worth it, and actually seemed more genuine, natural, and authentic.
Renewal is a wonderfully fulfilling read. I’ve come to appreciate and thoroughly enjoy author Helena Stone’s descriptive, evenly paced, non-rushed, natural, and finely crafted writing style. I’m looking forward to what she brings readers next.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Renewal.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on June 23, 2017.