MOVING ON by H. J. Holt
Moving On by H. J. Holt
Reviewed by Cassie
Former foster kid and high school dropout Luke Kearsey moves to England to get away from an abusive ex. He works the late shift at a burger joint and spends his time after work at clubs, drinking, dancing, and picking up guys. At a club one night, he meets Paul, a sexy older man who seems as lonely as Luke is. He takes Paul home for what he intends to be a one-night stand, but instead he ends up feeling a connection. Due to his past, he doesn’t feel Paul will like the real Luke, so he resorts to lies, half-truths, and omissions.
Paul Blackwell had a great life, with a teaching job he loves and a wonderful partner. Then his partner died, and he was devastated. Friends have been encouraging Paul to move on, but meeting a younger man at a club wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. Still, Paul’s drawn to Luke, despite the knowledge that Luke is hiding things from him. When he finds out the truth, will Paul still want Luke?
Two very different men, both in need of love for different reasons, find their way to each other in Moving On. I found it easy to connect with both Luke and Paul. Luke suffered through a terrible childhood. He was often taken away from his neglectful, drug-addicted mother and put into foster care. Because of his lack of stability, he feels disconnected from others, and clings to whatever scraps he’s given rather than looking for real love. When he meets Paul, he’s determined to enjoy whatever they have for as long as he can, which means hiding his true self from Paul. As they grow closer, the lies become more difficult, but Luke has too much experience with rejection to risk showing Paul the reality of his life.
Unlike Luke, Paul experienced real love. The loss of his partner, Craig, hurt a lot, for a long time. At first, he picks Luke up out of attraction and loneliness, but he soon realizes he actually likes the younger man, despite his defensiveness and lack of trust in Paul. He tries to get closer to Luke, but Luke’s secretiveness and Paul’s friends’ disapproval are bigger obstacles than he expected.
I really liked both Luke and Paul. Luke is sweet and vulnerable, in contrast to his prickly, flirty exterior. I wanted him to be happy so badly, and when he felt sad I did too. He grew a lot over the course of the story, and I enjoyed coming along for his journey. Paul is steady, calm, and kind, the perfect person to love someone like Luke. He gets impatient at times, and sometimes he makes the wrong choices, but that only made him more endearing in my mind. The secondary characters are all interesting (and even the antagonists are not all two-dimensional, especially one of Paul’s friends who disapproves), but they’re not the main focus here. The focus is on Luke and Paul, and the slow build of their relationship. Moving On isn’t perfect by any means. There is some major head-hopping between Paul and Luke that annoyed me until I managed to get used to it. The situation with Luke’s ex is a bit easily resolved, given the lengths the man went to in order to reach Luke again (although I admit it was nice not to have the crazy-stalker-ex as a major plotline!). But overall, Moving On is a very good story of second chances with likeable characters and a sweet, enjoyable plot.