Erryn reviews ‘Starting Point (Turning Point Book 3)’ by N.R. Walker. Self-published on May 3, 2016, 330 pgs. Audio released on May 30, 2018, 8 hours 23 mins. Narrated by Sean Crisden. Erryn was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Why we listened to this book:
Erryn: I think N.R. Walker is one of the best authors out there and anytime a new book is coming out, I get excited.
Book Three in the Turning Point Series
After going past the point of no return and finally reaching breaking point, the only thing Matthew Elliott can do now is start over.
Matthew Elliott is a recovering man. As an ex-cop and ex-fighter, his new job teaching kids at the local community gym about drug awareness and self-defense, is a little bit of both. His new focus on helping street kids is helping him heal, and with Kira by his side, he’s making strides.
Brother and sister, Rueben and Claudia, are homeless kids and they’re very much alone. As they strike a chord with Matt, he does everything in his power to help them. But when Ruby and Claude need more help than he bargained for, it stops being about work, and starts being about home.
The day he met Kira, Matt’s life changed direction, and it’s only now he realizes that everything he’s been through was a lead up to this. It was never about endings. His life, his purpose, was just beginning.
I’m going to start by discussing the narrator of N.R. Walker’s ‘Turning Points’ series. Sean Crisden has done an admirable job with this trilogy. In this book, he has to portray an elderly Japanese mother, a diffident teenage boy, a large group of diverse men, and a young girl named Claude who declares, “I’m nine, you know, not five.” Sean hits just the right note of sarcasm and I loved his enthusiasm when portraying this young girl.
Claudia is a feisty kid who only wants to be called Claude. She (and her brother Reuben) hang out at the center Matt opened at the end of the last book. It is clear Matt is concerned with her, although he challenges his counselor, Tamara, when she points out, “you can’t fix everyone, Matt.” On a conscious and intellectual level, he understands this. Unconsciously, though, he is still living with the guilt of Kira’s kidnapping, the feelings of absolute helplessness that the man he loves suffered because of him. Because it was Matt’s job as a cop that caused Kira’s physical and emotional pain.
Ironically, Kira’s friendship with the three women who were kidnapped and held hostage with him has empowered him to tackle his demons and face them head-on. In fact, at the end of Book 2, Anna’s sister was maid of honor at Anna and Mitch’s wedding and when it came time for her to dance with the best man – Matt – she dragged him over to Kira, telling him, “You dance with yours.” Since Matt had just asked Kira to marry him via sign language, it was a very touching moment.
That sentimentality carries through to the scene in this book when Kira and Matt inform Kira’s parents that they are getting married. I was able to accurately predict Yumi’s – Kira’s mother – reaction, but it was the interaction between Matt and Sal that made my heart soar. Kira’s parents have treated Matt like a son since day one, but Matt has had a hard time accepting the love. Matt’s interaction with Sal brought me to sniffles and giggles. Then there are the ‘rules’ for wedding preparations which made me laugh. Big surprise that Yumi embraces the task.
I can’t say enough good things about Sal and Yumi. Kira and Matt are lucky to have them and when Matt was truly down and out in Book 2, it was Sal actually speaking that was the true wake-up call for him.
These days, Matt is facing his new challenges, the least of which is the therapist he’s seeing.
Kira: What about Tamara gets under your skin?
Matt: She, um, scores me…I keep waiting for her to tell me I’m going to fail with the kids [to tell me I will] never be a good father.
Kira: Wait…you want kids?
I adore Kira. He’s the one who grew up in a stable home with two loving parents and he’s terrified of having children. Meanwhile, Matt grew up with a single mom who died mere weeks before he turned eighteen and although he was loved, Matt didn’t have a lot of stability. Despite being essentially an orphan – or maybe because of it – he’s not intimidated by having children. The discussed compromise in the last book was they would adopt a dog. That idea is pursued in this book to amusing and adorable results. Let’s just say, Yumi’s grandmother yearnings are somewhat – somewhat – alleviated.
In this book, tokens are exchanged so the men can express their love. That being said, the relationship still has rocky moments. Case in point – young Claude and her older brother Reuben. Claude quickly finds her way into Matt’s heart and wherever Matt goes, Claude follows. Reuben, her older brother, is a tougher nut to crack. He’s street smart, protective of Claude, and wary of Matt whose offer to help just seems too good to be true. He eventually lets down one of his many barriers and listens to what Matt is offering, but trust comes reluctantly and Matt’s rules are strict. Claude is up for the task, though, following Matt’s edicts as best she can. Poverty eats away at one’s soul and I wasn’t sure even Matt could change the kids’ lives.
Witnessing the children’s desperation, Kira asks Matt, “How do you compartmentalize?”
I knew the answer to that. Matt can’t. He couldn’t when he was a police officer and he’s even less capable now. Between keeping the center funded, helping the children, watching out for the criminal elements, and ensuring the safety and security of his employees, Matt has his hands full. Tamara recognizes this and Matt acknowledges that he feels like he has to PROVE to his therapist that he’s capable of succeeding. That’s he’s not going to fail. Like he did before, anyway.
Like he did with Kira.
Those are high expectations to put on oneself and I worried about Matt.
And I was right to.
But I also knew Kira would be there.
Which he was.
The eventual dénouement was painful, but also cathartic. Matt did, finally, acknowledge he could do his best and if things didn’t work out, that didn’t mean he had failed.
Matt: How did I get so lucky?
Kira: You punched me in the mouth.
I won’t spoil the future of the couple and their menagerie, but the six year later epilogue was perfect. And when Matt says to Kira, “you were my turning point,” there was a truth to that. We all have moments in our lives when we can look back and pinpoint the moment someone came into our lives and that turned out to be pivotal – often changing things for the better. I may never meet my Kira, but I have friends whose impact on me was just as powerful. I’m sorry to see the series end, but I definitely loved it.
[Small spoiler: There was a major shift in Chapter 16 and although I wasn’t prepared, the narrative choice worked for me.]
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since…
Get in touch with N.R.