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Book Review: Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck

Title: Perfect Score
Author: Susan Roebuck
Author Website: authorblog
Genre: Gay (M/M), Romance, Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Awe-Struck Publishing
Price: $4.99
Link to purchase

What I liked: Sam watched Alex chase a potato around his plate. How the hell could you do one kind of course while pretending to do another? How could you fool someone for so long? Alex took another long slug of whiskey. “I don’t really know why I am telling you this.”

Neither did Sam. If he had done something like that he sure as hell wouldn’t yak about it.

Liza’s hand was still on my cheek and I pressed it more comfort than anything else. “I think I lost him in any case.” As I spoke my fears, longing for him lodged in my throat like a peach stone.

“Good,” she said, taking her hand away, and sounding business-like. “Then make sure he stays lost.” *************************************************************************************** Sam and Alex, two of the most unlikely kindred spirits, are crossing paths in the most unlikely of circumstances. Their lives could not be any more different; their personal goals any more at odds. Where Sam has the drive and natural instinct to protect his sister, Sam faces a constant battle to prove his intelligence. Alex appears to have the skills to make it in the world, but lacks any semblance of direction or motivation. How is it that these two men meet each other and end up helping each other? What pulls them together both physically and emotionally? Will their secret love for each other bring them together or push them further apart?

In the late 1960s, homosexuality is still misunderstood by the general public. This particular element makes this highly engaging and poignant coming of age story, rendering it a superbly moving look at the twists and turns faced in life. Author Susan Roebuck gives readers of Perfect Score a thoughtful look into the lives to two young men who must deal with their family histories that started each man on his life path. This compelling read works on many levels for the open-minded reader who believes a good story is a good story; the male/male relationship element is front and center but never treated in the all-too-often stereotypical fashions.

Roebuck uses a mix of first person and third person narration to bring new insight into her main characters. This unusual approach allows readers to settle into a comfortable read within the first few chapters, and provides for a more revealing look into the lives of two young men who discover more about themselves as they learn more about each other. **************************************************************************************** Book blurb: Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam’s two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister’s medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word “dyslexia” is generally unknown so to most people he’s just a “retard”. From the severe knocks life’s dealt him, Sam’s developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.

Despite his defects, Alex’s love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex’s powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle. As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex’s evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what’s the mystery behind Alex’s father’s death? Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever?

Book excerpt: The Pike place had pretensions to be a ranch, but Sam didn’t think it quite made it. Divided into three sections: a creek, steep terrain and some disordered pastures lying in a flood plain, the property bordered the much larger Raw Pines ranch next door. Josh Pike told Sam he’d worked the land for twenty years but, as far as Sam could see, with little to show for it except the old man’s love for the place which was as rigid as the winter weather: driving stinging snowstorms that stank of rusty nails. And a wind that could blow a calf over.

Three hours later, the range in the distance just visible across the frozen prairie, Sam removed his jacket, hung it on a gate post and pondered his next task.

He took a closer look at the steer lying on its side, kicking its legs and bellowing as if Sam was about to knife it. Can’t have been easy forcing your darned head through the rails in the fence, he thought. He rolled his sleeves up, picked up an axe and got to work on the fence rail with several powerful swings, taking care not to jolt the animal’s head.

“Cain’t you smell that good air?” Josh Pike had clambered onto a section of the fence, unaware or uncaring that he was tossed up a few inches every time the axe hit the rail.

He raised his weathered face to the watery sun with all the pleasure and leisure of a sunbather on a distant beach. “Have to punch the bastard to get him in the chute.” He nodded at the struggling steer, his words jarring with each blow of the axe. “Yet he done put his head through the fence happy as a flea. Takes some beatin’ huh?”

Sam had no breath for words, but Pike continued undeterred. “Betcha we could show them folks you worked with in Silver Creek a thing or two, eh boy? On how to run a cattle ranch. Betcha learned more up here in this month than you did in the three years you were down there. Eh?” He leaned closer to Sam, his face alight as he waited for Sam’s affirmative. “Eh?”

“Near…nearly,” Sam gasped, referring to the fence.

With one final massive blow, the axe-head wobbled as it finally split the fence rail. Sam kicked at the steer’s rump to encourage it up and watched it skitter back to the herd, still bellowing its woes.

“You reckon you could slaughter beef?” “If…if I have to.” The old man nodded as if satisfied with the answer. “Make some people weep. So pretty.”

Sam rubbed his hand over his face. Like so many conversations in his life, this one made no sense at all. Why was the old man leaping from subject to subject like a demented grasshopper? And what was pretty? The back end of the rapidly retreating steer or a slaughtered cow?

“The view,” Josh Pike explained although Sam hadn’t voiced his question. The old man nodded at the distant range where the peaks were shining pink like his bald pate. “And you know little guys like us can.”

Sam raised his eyes to the gun-metal grey sky above them. Can what? Sam was the first to admit that even on a good day his own mind was at best in total disarray, but it wasn’t in the chaos Josh Pike’s evidently was.

“Cry. Cry at the view.” Josh spoke as if explaining to a first grader. “Little guys get away with it. Betcha bawled when you left your family in Silver Creek. Eh?” Bawled? Cry?

Sam stared at the farm owner in disbelief. Sure he’d been sorry to leave-Silver Creek held all he loved. But cry? Sam couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried.

When did he last cry? He wracked his brains.

****
by: Tammy Elizabeth Southin

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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