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Lenore

I'm a hopeful cynic.

One Small Thing

One Small Thing - Piper Vaughn *This review contains mild spoilers*One Small Thing was a sweet and undemanding story.I usually steer away from books that feature babies or small kids, mostly because I don't exactly have a close relationship with them in real life. They mind their business and I mind mine. So I normally wouldn't pick this up but I recently read a couple of stories by Piper Vaughn (Wanting and An Oral Fixation) and liked them so I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't regret it.Rue, the jazzy twink who works as a bartender at a night club to put himself through cosmetology school, is the first of the MCs we meet and I'll admit that he initially irritated me. It wasn't one major thing; it was more like a combination of little things that annoyed me. Was it that he felt a little ostentatious? Was it that he sounded like—if not a total then at least a versatile—bottom but I was told he was a top? Was it his girl-periment, Natalie, and the news she broke about her unintended pregnancy? I clarify: what irritated me was that, after countless wild nights at the Tom Tom Club and after multiple nameless (or not so nameless) sexual partners, Rue conveniently forgot to use a condom in his one and only encounter with a girl? O-kay. Anyway, there needed to be a baby in the story, and it had to pop up somehow so I guess the "forgotten condom" was as good as any other trope to facilitate that particular plot point. And I eventually did warm up to Rue.Erik, the other MC, is a hermit who writes sci-fi and fantasy novels for a living, a neurotic geek who relies on anxiolytics, his favourite leather armchair, the Star Wars films and colourful sports drinks to navigate himself through life and the routine he depends on to be able to function at an acceptable level. Strangely enough, I liked Erik. He reminded me of a young Melvin Undall (the author Jack Nicholson plays in As Good As It Gets).You can imagine what happens when you combine the flamboyant, flashy Rue with his sparkly eye shadow and black eye-liner, his black and pink nail polish, his pink flip flops, double lip piercing, and his girly capris:My eyes snapped open, and it took me a few moments to really register what I was seeing. Once I did, I could only blink in surprise. A boy stood in the hall… or, well, a man, really, but he looked young. Maybe early twenties, if I had to guess. His sleek black hair was combed to the side, partially covering one of his eyes. From what I could see of it, and the other, they were green. But it wasn’t the color that had me staring. It was the fact that they were lined carefully in black… and his skin was creamy pale, like porcelain… and his lower lip was double pierced, with two of those rings with the little balls about an inch apart from the center. I took it all in, so confused I still couldn’t bring myself to say anything. And that was before I got to his clothes. He was wearing a tight black T-shirt and those girl pants that stop midway up the calf. They hung low on his hips and were cinched with a studded, bright pink belt… which matched the pink flip-flops he wore on his perfect little feet. I stared down at his toes—the nails were painted black with hot pink accents—until the sound of him clearing his throat brought my gaze back up to his face. (Erik's first impression of Rue)with the misanthropic, stuttering, unkempt Erik with his Star Wars T-Shirts and geeky combat shorts:He’d dressed in cargo shorts (oh, darling, really?) and an old Beatles T-shirt. I was afraid to look south of his knees. I had a bad feeling I’d find Birkenstocks or something equally wholesome and horrendous. (Rue's first impression of Erik)Sounds like a complete fiasco, right? But Rue desperately needs a sitter for his newborn daughter and Erik desperately needs the extra money to pay the bills his dwindling royalty cheques can't cover, so they both have to face reality and bite the bullet. I liked the added detail of Erik taking the job also because he wanted to protect Rue from his bigoted neighbours who sought to rip Rue off.From there on the story gradually started to develop as a romance. One issue I had was that the built-up wasn't evenly paced and there were times when I was told rather than shown that Rue and Erik had feelings for each other. Also, I wasn't given enough information about Erik's sexuality and his general emotional state, apart from his anxiety, so it wasn't easy for me to believe that he had genuine/healthy romantic feelings towards Rue and that what he felt wasn't some contingent, borderline obsessive infatuation with the first person he had real interaction with since Lord only knows when.Another issue was Dusty, Rue's best friend. Well, he wasn't an issue in and of himself. He was a nice guy, a supportive and loyal friend, a little insecure maybe, and a little unfortunate in his selection of sexual partners. I liked him alright. But at some point I felt he would be a better partner for Erik than Rue. For a short while, I thought Dusty would be Erik's HEA or maybe that the story would turn out to be a ménage of some sort. Then, the way things evolved, I felt that it was Rue, his tantrums and, at times, his implied I-saw-him-first attitude that made Dusty back up to leave room for Rue. Erik didn't seem to be romantically interested in Dusty but still, that was how I felt.The writing itself was simple and, at times, it had a rough, unpolished feeling. Also, more than once I caught myself thinking that the similes, metaphors, parallelisms, etc., were largely formulaic. Notwithstanding, there were times those parts worked beautifully in the story, like in this instance where Alice (Rue's baby daughter) gets rejected from yet another daycare centre: […] she told me they had a waiting list but could probably get Alice in by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving? What was I supposed to do until then—tie her on my back like Sacajawea and trek to the salon every day? A papoose would never go with my Dsquared button-ups. Last, there were times when I was spoon-fed what the characters felt, instead of being let to feel it myself:I turned off the water and opened the shower curtain. I was standing there naked, no clothes, no makeup, not even a towel for armor. I was defenseless. I had already gotten it from the "I was standing there naked" part. There was no need to have it shoved in my face with the "not even a towel for armor" and then rammed down my throat with the "I was defenseless" part.All the same, like I said in the beginning, this was a sweet, undemanding story that kept me good company and made me laugh out loud more than once. At the end of the day, isn't that what you seek in a romance story you choose as a pick-me-up?Dreamspinner Press kindly provided me with an eARC of this book through NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review