Down and Out (Down Home #3) ~ Parker St John
“It would be easier to stop my heart from beating than to keep from loving you."
Have you ever read a book that hit you like a freight train, and you didn't know what to do but stand there and enjoy it? Because that's what this book did to me.
I love the Down Home series, so I knew I'd like Down and Out, but this book topped all of my expectations. I've been in a reading slump for the last four months. While I've enjoyed books, I haven't really gotten lost in them or devoured them like I used to. I've been taking breaks after every chapter and getting really distracted while reading. But this book was the outlier. I started it telling myself I would only read the first chapters, and without realizing I had read half the book, this hasn't happened to me in so many months that I had forgotten how it felt to love a book this much. I kept thinking about it until I could pick it up again, and that's a feeling I hadn't experienced in so long, I was happy to see it come back for me.
Also, I’m pretty sure I will have to drink water every hour for the next week to replenish my body after all the tears I shed while reading this book. I started crying on page 4, and never really stopped until I finished the book.
Nate is back in his hometown of Sweetwater (he had left for the city ages ago) because he took over the family's veterinary clinic. When he was young, he was best friends with Tucker. But their friendship stopped when they were 14 and Nate got hard when they were cuddling. After that they pretty much became enemies. Now it's been years, and Nate and Tucker are still on bad terms and enemies. But they slowly rekindle their friendship and realize that they both always wanted to be with each other, so they do exactly that and finally allow themselves to fall in love with each other.
“Sometimes the creatures most in need of love are the ones who make it the hardest. But all they need to become something worth loving is for someone to keep trying.”
First, I would like to welcome Tucker Grace and his one blue eye and one green eye to my top 5 favourite book characters of all time. What a man he is. I fell in love with him so much; he was such a vivid character, so well built and had so many dimensions, and during the entire book, I just wanted to give him a hug. Tucker suffered from a TBI (a traumatic brain injury), and he had a bad family life, so he thought that he was broken and only a shell of himself. Because of that, it was hard for him to accept that he was worthy of love. Tucker really didn't like himself and thought he wasn't worth much. Tucker has always been alone and all he has ever wanted was Nate, because he was the only one who ever made things better for Tucker. Tucker tried so hard to control his temper and show that he could do better. I just wanted to hug him so much, his suffering made my heartache. I loved seeing his journey from that to him finally realizing that he is worthy and that Nate loves him no matter what. Tucker showed a hard and mean front, but deep down, he was a sweetheart with only one wish: belonging somewhere and being loved.
Also, it absolutely shattered my heart how Tucker wanted Nate more than than anything, but he didn't think he was good enough for Nate so he denied himself the pleasure of being with Nate. I loved Nate too, he was such a good character and the perfect support system for Tucker.
“It’s like I was born with the shape of him imprinted on my heart. He’s there, deep inside me, no matter where I go. Every decision I make has his touch on it. I don’t think that’s ever going to change.”
Special mention to Traveler the horse, who was the exact same person as Tucker but in horse form, he was the best. I absolutely loved Tucker and his love of horses and how they made him feel better. He relied on his horses so much and it was so sweet to see.
Second, the way Tucker's TBI was portrayed felt so realistic to me. I loved the way the rep was done. I loved how it affected his daily life, and he had to recognize its triggers so he could make sure it didn't bother him too much, as he would get seizures if he didn’t do that. I loved how the book showed that it affected everything he did in one way or another, especially because he had a memory loss because of it, and it affected his emotions a lot, making him have many emotional outbursts.
Third, these two had been friends for years and then stopped being friends when they were fourteen and sort of became enemies. I loved how they talked about what happened and how they got there so that they could work on it and fix it. Plus, it happened quite early into the book so that really worked for me. I loved how they talked about the previous hurt and apologized for their old mistakes so that they could start their friendship (and eventually relationship) over with a clean slate.
Also, special mention to the intense amount of pining these two did. There was so much pining for each other in this book, and I loved it so much.
I loved how we got to see a couple of flashbacks to when they were kids. It was absolutely lovely to see how they were together when they were younger. I loved how the book made a lot of links to their previous friendship to their current relationship, it was so lovely to me.
Fourth, I really loved the relationship progression in this book. I loved how Nate was bitter against Tucker, but it always felt forced, like he had to hate him out of principle and didn't really want to. It felt more like old childhood resentment than actual hatred. I loved how Tucker was never mean towards Nate, he wasn't really nice to anyone else, but he never dared disrespect Nate. Instead, he worked on showing Nate that he was better than what Nate thought of him and it was kind of very sweet. After how misguided Tucker had been as a kid, I loved how it was Tucker who extended a hand to try to fix their relationship. I loved how Nate got to know the new version of Tucker more and realized that he isn’t that bad after all. I loved how they started a very tentative friendship and then realized that they are better as boyfriends than as friends. I loved how it was easy to tell that they both had loved each other since they were teens and that all the events that happened in the book were just an extension of that love and how it made them do bad things to each other because they didn’t know how to deal with the love they felt.
“He wanted you, Nate Silva. Every second of every day. If there was ever a time when he wasn’t in love with you, I don’t think he remembers it. Maybe Tuck’s bi or maybe he’s not, but it doesn’t really matter because he’s never wanted anyone but you. I don’t think he ever will. He’s not built like that.”
Also, Tucker and Nate were just so good together. They were perfectly suited for each other. I just loved how they always took care of each other and made sure that the other was fine.
Special mention to the sex scenes that were so emotional they made me cry. Not only were they hot, they also had so much emotional value and really helped drive the book along. They were the perfect compliment to the relationship.
Fifth, I loved the entire vibe of the town. I love how everyone was super nice and how they never took over the story. They were just very nice and well rounded side characters and they all served a purpose in the plot, which I really enjoyed. And I loved Nate’s mother, she was such a precious sweetheart.
Sixth, sure these guys were not the best at communication, but it really worked for me in this book. They both had a reason that justified it that made sense to me. It never bothered me that they weren't the best at talking to each other. I liked how even when they didn't know what to say, they didn't really push the other away or were cruel to each other. I liked how they gravitated towards each other even when the communication failed them, it really worked for me.
If you ever talk books with me in the next few months, don’t be surprised when all I can talk about is this book.