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REVIEW: Speedbump, by Charli Coty

Speedbump - Charli Coty

Title: Speedbump

Author: Charli Coty

Genre: GENRE

LGBTQ+ Category: Contemporary

Publisher: CeeTwo Publishing

Pages: 228

Get It On Amazon

About The Book

Getting broken wasn’t supposed to fix everything.

Ezra Cook is sole caregiver to older brother Tray, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in his forties. They live outside the small town of Drop, Oregon, on property Tray bought with his Microsoft settlement money. For years, Ezra has been going on and off low doses of testosterone to maintain a comfortable level of androgyny. Ezra spends most days juggling Tray’s care and the work required to survive in rural Oregon on a small income, ignoring their own needs, especially companionship and sleep.

Ellred “Red” Long escaped Drop at seventeen but returns to his hometown in disgrace after his band dumped him on the streets of LA. Coming back doesn’t seem like such a dead end, though, after he sees a guy walking along the side of the road in the rain and gives him a lift. 

Ezra and Red’s chance meeting begins an uncomfortable friendship neither had expected, and both allow fear to keep it from escalating into a hookup, or worse, a romance. Red never meant to return to Drop and doesn’t want to get stuck there again, while Ezra’s protective walls may be too strong to breach, from either side.

The Review

Like some other readers, I started following Charli Coty when she wrote as Charley Descoteaux. Then somewhere in the last few years, she started writing under the new name. If you were one of those fans who got lost by the wayside as I did, it’s time to come back to the fold. Charli/e Descoteaux Coty by any name is a darned good writer and one worth spending your time with and money on.

As in so many other of her stories, Speedbump is a quirky tale, not one being written by anyone else. The story centers around androgynous Ezra, who lives in a small rural Oregon town. Hard-scrabble poor, Ezra takes care of his brother, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, and works to save money for testosterone cream since he faints at the sight of needles and can’t get the shots.

Into Ezra’s life returns a local musician, who was once on the top of his game and blew it on drugs and alcohol, his band dumping him mid-tour. Now clean, Red is at a crossroads. Does he try to find another band who will take him? Or does he grow old and soft in his small Oregon hometown playing one or two nights a week at the local bar? 

When Red and Ezra bump into each other again, sparks fly as the saying goes. But both of their lives aren’t easy and happiness seems just out of their reach. Do they take a chance on each other and maybe find everything they ever wanted? Or do they rely on the messages from the past, assume the worst, and let chance pass them by?

Not only are the characters and plot unusual but the general raw, uncompromising tone of the book is too. Don’t get me wrong. By raw and uncompromising, I don’t mean crude. Instead, it’s true, with the high points of happiness much lower than readers have come to expect in most fiction. Readers who aren’t familiar with books featuring androgynous or transitioning characters may get a shock from Ezra and his world view.

But these kinds of shocks and glimpses into worlds other than white-bread Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross worlds are why we read fiction, aren’t they? Ezra’s status quo isn’t one he angsts over nor do readers cry about. Instead, we find ourselves rooting for him and when he finds someone like Red who not only accepts him but loves him from top to bottom and inside out for who he is, we rejoice with him. Ezra is one of those characters readers want to befriend and hang around just because he is who he is.

When all’s said and done, I can’t wait for the next wonderful character Charli Coty or Charlie Descoteaux or whoever she is introduces me to. In the meantime, I’ll reread Speedbump.

The Reviewer

Pat Henshaw:

  1. Is a she, not a he.
  2. Writes MM romances.
  3. Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price.
  4. Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.
  5. Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.
  6. Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.
  7. Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.
  8. She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance!

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