HANDLE WITH CARE by Josephine Myles
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles
Reviewed by Cassie
Ben spent much of his young adulthood raising his little sister after their parents were killed. For the next couple of years after his sister moved out, he partied as hard as he could, indulging in sex, alcohol, and drugs and not taking proper care of his diabetes. As a result, he’s now on dialysis. He works from home, and the only vice he can allow himself is porn. That, and fantasizing about the sexy delivery guy, Ollie. With his health issues and their age difference, Ben figures he hasn’t got a chance with Ollie in real life.
When Ollie unexpectedly finds out what’s in the packages Ben gets so often, Ben finds out he might have a chance after all—if they can get through Ben’s health issues and Ollie’s past.
I really enjoyed Handle With Care. I normally don’t mention the covers of the stories I read, and I barely notice half of them. In this case, however, I was drawn to the cover right away. I’m happy to say my first impression of the story, the lovely and sweet cover, didn’t mislead me one bit.
First-person stories can sometimes feel limiting or make the narrator come across as self-centered, but that didn’t happen in this story. Ben is an extremely likeable narrator. He loves his sister fiercely, and doesn’t regret the years he spent caring for her. He’s very realistic about his condition (and his own hand in causing it). The loss of the sex appeal he used to have has smashed his confidence, to the point that he doesn’t believe an attractive younger guy like Ollie could ever be interested in him. His insecurity makes the beginning of his and Ollie’s relationship take a while, but I liked the slow buildup a lot. His wonder when Ollie isn’t put off by his health problems is sweet.
Seen through Ben’s eyes, Ollie is a little harder to read, but he still comes across as a fully realized character. He’s got energy and enthusiasm to spare. He loves comics, skateboarding, and drawing, and he dreams of owning his own coffee shop. Although he’s quite a bit younger than Ben, he’s more mature than anyone seems to give him credit for. I loved the way he saw past Ben’s health issues and fear to the man inside. Despite his youth, Ollie has a past of his own that rears its ugly head.
All the conflicts in Handle With Care are dealt with realistically and sympathetically. Ben’s health issues in particular came across as very real, but the emotional conflicts are well done too. While Handle With Care doesn’t feature a ton of drama and heavy angst, it’s got engaging characters, believable conflict, and lots of emotion. I’ve only read a couple of Josephine Myles’ stories, but Handle With Care has convinced me to see what else she’s got out there.