Erryn reviews ‘Damage Control (North Shores Stories Book 1)’ by Lynn Van Dorn. The ebook was published September 11, 2017 and is 431 pages. The audiobook was narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo. It was released September 30, 2019 and is 18hrs and 58mins. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I had heard great things about this book.
Everything to lose.
Tyler’s worked hard to kick the dust of the Chicago suburbs off his heels and move on with his life as Hollywood’s newest up-and-comer, burying his demons and hiding his scars from the world. Just as everything seems to be going his way, a scandal from his past threatens everything he’s worked for. Now, he’s stuck back home, where his family of lawyers can maybe help sink the scandal and find out who’s behind it.
Afraid to love.
Josh doesn’t know what to think when his ex’s little brother falls into his arms, other than that Tyler is trouble with a capital T. But when Tyler’s publicist suggests that an adoring fake boyfriend might be just the ticket to saving Tyler’s acting career, Josh doesn’t mind playing along. It’s not like he has anything else going on, and faking a relationship with someone you’ve known your entire life can’t possibly be that difficult.
A second chance for two damaged hearts.
Now, they’re stuck together for the foreseeable future, and neither can deny their mounting attraction. Why should they? They’re supposed to be in love, at least out in public. But in private, when no one is watching, Tyler and Josh grow closer in a way that has nothing to do with their agreed upon arrangement. What do they do when make-believe becomes real, and how can two men with such different lives have a shared future?
Damage Control is a steamy, stand-alone gay romance with no cliffhanger and an HEA.
I had heard great things about this book when it first came out, and I promised myself that if it was released on audio, I would snag it. And I did. More than a month ago. I love long audios, but anything over ten hours requires a dedicated commitment. I’m happy to set aside the time, but I want to make sure I’m rewarded for my effort.
I was with this book.
From the beginning I was sucked in to the story. Tyler is a damaged soul. He’s also been in love with Josh since, like, forever. Josh has been in love with Tyler’s brother Ryan. Ryan is firmly in the closet. So, yeah, some pretty fucked up shit is going on. Josh is thirty-five, and although he and Ryan broke up almost twenty years ago, he’s pined over his first love for all these years. He’s had many relationships, but none ever was as good as the memory of Ryan, and none has lasted very long. He comes up to a cabin in Wisconsin to get over Ryan for good. He kind of has to – Ryan’s brother Brad is marrying Josh’s sister Rachael. Their families are going to be connected forever.
What Josh doesn’t expect is to run into a different Chadwick. It’s not Ryan he finds, but Tyler. And their first meeting doesn’t go well. Like Tyler almost drowns. Josh also discovers quickly that Tyler isn’t as healthy as he might otherwise seem. The young man is an actor who is so petite he’s been taking teenage roles even though he’s twenty-six. He’s been shooting a fantasy film so he has blue hair – hair he’s promised his brother Brad that he’ll cut before the wedding. He’s embarrassed for Josh to find out his secret so soon after they meet, but there’s nothing to be done. Actually, several secrets although one has become very public. Tyler needs to come across as responsible and settled. In a family huddle, it is brought up that he needs a steady relationship. And who does everyone recommend? Josh.
Now, Josh’s motives didn’t necessarily make sense to me at first. Yes, he feels connected to Tyler, but being a pretend boyfriend to a movie star is a big ask. I love the fake boyfriend trope, but I feel both sides have to have strong motives for getting involved in such a high stakes game. In the end, though, the story worked. Josh and Tyler go through a lot, not the least is Tyler’s psychological issues. He went through hell as a teenager and he bears the scars – metaphorical and literal. His relationship with his father is problematic to say the least.
Josh’s family situation is more stable, but his father still holds out hope that Josh will find a nice suitable partner to settle down with and have children. He’d prefer Josh pick a woman, but as long as the person is successful, he’ll be happy. Some Hollywood actor with a reputation for trouble? Completely unacceptable. Except by now Tyler and Josh are truly entrenched in their fake relationship and those pesky feelings are becoming real.
There is a lot going on in this book – from marriages to stalkers to porn videos. At first I wondered if the story would drag at points, given it was nineteen hours. I never felt that way, and was never tempted to jump ahead. I enjoyed the deep dive into Tyler’s psyche, and found myself cheering for his healing. Now, another person can’t heal someone. Only that person can save themselves. Can those around them help? Hell yes. Josh was just such a person. There was also depth with his character as he faced the end of his obsession with Ryan.
The story was so strong, I was pulled into it completely. I followed, desperately hoping Tyler might resolve some of his issues and hoping Josh would get his head out of his ass. There were moments of humor, moments of sadness, and moments of enjoyment. I love Seth Meyers so that cameo was great. Time flew and I was almost disappointed to have the story end, but was pleased I was able to pick up the next audio – Ryan’s story – and dive back in right away.
Interestingly, there are other point of view characters. Yes, most of the chapters are told from Josh or Tyler’s point of view, but Purvi (Tyler’s assistant), Rachael (Josh’s sister) and Cynthia (Tyler’s mom) also get to share their insights. I enjoyed those snippets and it didn’t slow the pacing at all. Finally, there was Patrick. Poor Patrick. I really want him to get a happy ending.
Michael Ferraiuolo narrated this story and he was a brilliant choice. He brought the story to life seamlessly and I love his voice. I always enjoy his performances and this one was no exception. I’m so glad I made the commitment and am now only left asking why I waited so long? Ah well, off to read Ryan’s story, Daddy Issues.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Lynn Van Dorn was born in Ohio and left it for the wilds of Chicago in her reckless youth. She wanted to become a fairy princess when she grew up, but since there are few openings for that position, she makes do with being a writer.
In her spare time, she drinks entirely too much tea, snugs her cats, loves her husband and son, reads voraciously, and avoids housework. She loves to watch anime, travel, knit, bake cookies, and conjure up happy every afters for handsome men who have trouble getting there on their own.