Ever the Same by B.A. Tortuga
BA Tortuga puts her Southwestern roots to excellent use in this fine, if strange, romance between two single fathers – one closeted and leading a sheltered rural Texas life – the other, blind, reasonably worldly-wise, and widowed. I’m awarding four stars and a blooming Yellow Rose to this saga of a highly complicated relationship that gives fresh meaning to the cliché, “Love is blind.”
For me, at least, the author tipped her hand early; I saw the road she was traveling from the get-go. But I don’t care.
When we meet Audie Barrack, his arm is literally up a calf’s rectum, and that’s when a telephone call beckons him to his young son, Grainger’s, school.
It seems the lad, not usually a troublemaker, has been fighting. More surprisingly, the fight he picked was with Randi, a new girl in town. Her Dad is Dixon, a musician who was blinded in the accident that claimed the life of his husband, Ron, Randi’s other daddy – and her favorite.
So it didn’t take long to know that Ever the Same would detail Audie and Dixon’s collision course with romance. But knowing the road I was traveling didn’t keep me from enjoying the ride; I savored each and every step along their rocky road to romance - and then commitment.
But I did take exception with too many, and too long, descriptions of the disparate lovers’ sexual shenanigans. Some people claim that too much of a good thing is wonderful. In this instance, and for me, there were far too many pages detailing Audie and Dixon’s carnal couplings, slowing a story that should have raced ahead, addressing more fully the daunting, special challenges present when a fit, fully functioning man falls in love with a sightless one.
Readers, who want a novel’s sex scenes to linger like the satisfying aftertaste of a fine wine, will disagree.
And please don’t get me wrong: I enjoy reading the details of a hot encounter as much as anyone. But I’ve already read the minutiae of countless hot and heavy interludes. On the other boot, I’ve read precious little about the daunting, unique challenges facing a closeted cowboy partnered with a blind musician.
In most ways, Audie and Dixon form the classic odd couple.
Audie is bucolic Texas to the bone. He knows little of life beyond the barbed boundaries of his family’s rural Texas ranch, with its cattle and horses. The guy has never once ventured beyond the borders of the Lone Star state. His worldview is narrow.
To put it mildly, and kindly, Audie is plainspoken – a man given to southwestern euphemisms and colloquialisms.
The author knows them well, and she uses them to good, and sometimes comical, effect. Audie tossed off provincialisms so frequently; I was waiting, in vain, as it happened, for him to drawl, “I’m fixin’ to fix dinner.”
Yes, Barrack is a lonesome cowboy, looking for love and companionship. This guy is definitely more at home delivering his horse’s foal than he is in a fine dining restaurant with its strange charger plates, finger bowls and linen napkins.
Dixon is a product of big city, Austin, Texas - that bastion of liberalism and culture in a region that has way too little of either. A musician who has paid his dues – and then some - Dixon is well traveled, with a polish and sophistication unknown to the man on whom he’s crushing. Dixon would never be fixin’ to fix dinner. This guy sits down to savor a midnight supper after playing the late show.
Yes, Audie and Dixon live in two different worlds. But basic goodness, single parenthood, sexual chemistry, and smoking hot looks, are ties that bind the otherwise disparate men.
After their initial squabble, the children, Audie’s Grainger, and Dixon’s Randi, slowly, but surely, become inseparable, best friends - glue holding their single fathers together.
Trying to separate them are the guys’ parents who, and for different reasons, worry about them endlessly.
Although Audie claims that his mother is not a monster, she consistently acts the part – at one point, and with stunning insensitivity, proclaiming Dixon to be “Useless!”
Small minded and overly practical, Mrs. Barrack is blind to the many things of great value that the sightless Dixon has to offer others, her son in particular, and the world in general.
Happily, Dixon’s ultimately loving and supportive father balances Audie’s harsh, one-note Momzilla.
Especially as it concerns the lovers’ parents, some may accuse the author of exploiting the stereotype of narrow-minded South westerners. I’m not one of them.
An Epilogue puts the satisfying button on the couple’s story. Ever the Same is a fine and satisfying romance – one I do not hesitate to recommend.