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On those days his thoughts turn black. He walks the Norfolk coast and considers the frigid embrace of the waves. And then, one stormy night, he finds someone who’s tasted just that. The beautiful stranger on the beach is near death, and Nick rushes him home to slowly nurse back to health. As he does, he finds a love unlike any other. Owen
Butler’s body is as warm as the sea was cold, his heart as big as an ocean. And Owen is a man who swears to repay the favor. Nick can yet be saved from himself, and he will see that he is indeed a man…
Worth Keeping tells the story of Nick Mathers who the reader quickly learns if they did not read the blurb was abused horrifically as a child and Owen Bulter a man heartbroken and in turmoil.
Nick and Owen’s first meeting will pull you right into this book, Ms. Mac Nicol’s provides the reader with powerful dialogue and imagery that had me wishing I could sit all day and read this book.
As Nick and Owen interact it is clear to the reader they have a connection; one that neither is able to deny for very long.
I truly appreciated that Ms. Mac Nicol’s did not have Owen just “fix” Nick. This story felt so true to Nick’s struggle, a daily struggle with his demons.
Owen’s patience for Nick truly warmed my heart; the two of them working their way through Nick’s issues was sometimes tough to read, sometimes funny to read, the resolutions reached and other times powerfully gripped my soul as my heart broke for this man who has endured so much.
The range of emotions this book made me feel was amazing. As you are reminded how evil the world can be, you are also touched by the how those who care and want to make a difference.
Please be warned, Nick does not heal overnight, his battle is real and a daily struggle and will really grab you and have you wishing you could go back in time and undo all that was done to him. But we all know life does not work that way and there is no magic pill or solution for deep drama, so Nick battles and ughh my heart.
Owen learns the hard way how not only can he not fix Nick but Nick has to want to be better, Nick has to want a future. I adored Owen’s character! He truly loves Nick for who he was and was willing to love him at whatever capacity Nick’s soul could tolerate.
There were some wonderful secondary characters in this book. Nick’s adoptive father Don, was such a wonderful character, taking in a broken boy, loving him, knowing life would be full of challenges and even in adulthood cares deeply and often with humor for this man who is his son through and through.
Ok so cute, I have never read a book with a pet monkey in it before; but I not only adored Socks but he was truly used in the story to show, love, fear, compassion and in the end used in the resolution. Great job, Socks!
I am not going to tell you how Nick finds his way to overcoming his demons and scars from the past but I will tell you that the way his issues with sex and emotions were both handled wonderfully and made Nick feel real to me and so all of this combined made for an outstanding read.
Nick and Owen’s journey to happy I think for me reminded me that the soul has such capacity to heal and that the love of the right person is truly a gift to be cherished!
Nick Mathers glanced anxiously at his watch. Three fifteen. Where the hell was Owen? His boyfriend was supposed to have met him here at the prestige art gallery in Chelsea in London. Nick was still overwhelmed at the fact that some of his art works were being show cased at the gallery of one of Owen’s mother’s friends. Lindy Vermeer owned the well known gallery Le Chat and she’d been interested in Nick’s art to the point of offering him a small showing tonight. However the artist himself was as nervous as hell.
I’m really not that bloody good. What if people don’t like it?
Nick was being interviewed (unwillingly but Owen had convinced him it was in his best interests) during the showing by some local art newspaper. For a man who valued his privacy, this was a situation out of hell. And there was no way he was doing it if Owen wasn’t sitting somewhere close so he could see him. His glower turned to a unwilling smile and then to a more appropriate frown of disapproval at his lover’s tardiness as he saw Owen pushing his way through the crowds gathered in the foyer, a huge grin on his face as he charmed half of London into getting out of his way. Not for the first time, Nick thanked his lucky stars that Owen Butler had washed up into his life. As the lithe frame of his lover clothed in an expensive and very well fitting suit materialised at his side, Nick scowled.
“You’re bloody late. I’m supposed to go in there in a few minutes.” He waved an agitated hand in the direction of some room he’d been told to go into about 3.15. A woman peered anxiously out of the room, her face brightening as she spotted him and she waved him in with a flapping hand.
Owen’s face split into a wide grin. “Is my wonderful artist feeling a little nervous?” he teased as his fingers gently brushed Nick’s jaw line and he planted a rough kiss on Nick’s lips. “Stop worrying, Nick. All they’re going to do is ask you a few questions and you’ll answer them like the trooper you are. Then we get to drink champagne while everyone scrambles to buy your paintings and I get to say I sleep with the man who did them.” He smiled wickedly and despite his anxiety, Nick chuckled. He took Owen’s arm and they walked over to the woman in the doorway whose face reflected relief that they were actually making a move.
“You make it sound so damn easy.” Nick grunted.” I wish I had your confidence that this was all going to go well. What if nobody likes them? I mean, not everyone does-” His voice tailed off at the look on Owen’s face. Nick hated the sound of insecurity in his voice but after having an ex boyfriend tell him how crap his art was, his sense of self worthlessness sometimes rose to the fore.
Owen scowled, his handsome face darkening. “Nick, forget that fucking arsehole you called an ex. Brad is out of the picture and he had no bloody taste, and the man was a psycho and I’m just glad he’s gone -wherever that might be. ” He reached out and pulled Nick’s face to his, claiming his mouth in a spine tingling kiss, making Nick wish he was back home at the lighthouse in bed with his lover. The woman coughed politely and Owen drew away with a quiet snort of amusement.
“Mr. Mathers, my name is Janice Clare. I hate to interrupt, but we have to get you made up in the next five minutes. We start filming in about ten minutes.”
Nick nodded and allowed himself to be pulled firmly away by Janice. He mouthed at Owen as he left, “Make sure you stay close so I can see you,” Owen nodded. Nick smiled at him and let himself be taken into the bowels of what looked like Armageddon with people running around, shouting and then a barrage of ladies and men descended upon him like jackals around a carcass.
Owen laughed loudly as Nick was swept away. The look of sheer panic on his man’s face was priceless. But he was very proud of his boyfriend. Nick’s art work deserved its place here in Lindy’s gallery and Owen had no doubt it was going to be a success. His parents were in the gallery somewhere and had promised to meet them for drinks after the showing. They’d fallen in love with Nick just as Owen had. The first time they’d met him, his mother had gushed all over his boyfriend and Owen had sniggered at Nick’s faint unease at being so showered with love and affection as only his mother could do.
Ten minutes later he was seated in a convenient position out of camera range but close to the small area where Nick was to be interviewed. It consisted of a rattan table, covered with coffee table books about art, two comfy cushioned rattan chairs, one of which Nick sat in, looking his usual stunning self but with a faint look of trepidation on his face. His eyes kept moving over to seek Owen out and each time they did, Owen smiled or nodded and even blew him a kiss. That made Nick smile. He looked more at ease afterwards.
Finally the interview started and Owen relaxed as Nick managed to answer most of the questions around how he worked, why he chose to paint in oils and the subjects that he chose to paint about. Nick seemed to relax as the interview questions dealt more with the technical aspects of his painting. Nick painted in oils, bright, emotional creations of colour and energy, mostly of the landscape and the sea around him at Pebble Cove where they lived in an old lighthouse. It was a world Owen had come to love too, not least because it was Nick’s world, the one he’d finally found peace after years of abuse and trauma at others, and unfortunately, at his own hands too.
The interview was proceeding well and there were only a few minutes left of it. Owen leaned forward when the interviewer started asking more personal questions. Nick hadn’t given them any restrictions despite Owen saying they might need them. He hadn’t wanted questions about Nick’s past being asked, his childhood or anything that might dredge up bad memories for the man Owen loved unequivocally. Nick had argued that they were going to talk about his art so the chances of personal questions was remote. It looked like Nick’s faith in the press’s ability to concentrate solely on the subject on hand was short lived.
“You obviously put a lot of passion into your art, Nick,” the interviewer, Sarah Copeland was saying. “Are there influences from your past, your child hood that you carry forward into your work? Some memories of places you’ve been to, places you’ve visited, that give any sort of intimate look into who the real Nick Mathers is?” She sat back, crossing stockinged legs and smiled softly at him.
Nick’s lips thinned and Owen clenched his fingers in frustration.
Talk about leading fucking questions! Just what Nick didn’t need. Questions about his damn childhood, a childhood that had been fraught with pain and suffering. A childhood that still kept him awake in bed when nightmares claimed him.
To Owen’s surprise, Nick seemed to centre himself and he sat back, relaxing as he crossed his chino clad legs elegantly. He steepled his fingers together and shook his head quietly. “No, Sarah. You won’t find anything of my past in my paintings. I prefer to create beauty and peace, look forward to what I have rather than what I lost.” Owen knew Nick wouldn’t elaborate on anything from that phase of his life. “I have everything I need to create my paintings around me, both where I live and in here.” He touched his heart and Owen’s own heart lurched as Nick looked straight at him. “I’m fortunate to have a special someone who came into my life recently who truly believed in me and got me to this place that I am now. He’s been my inspiration and my sanity, even if I drive him insane sometimes. And he’s pretty good at doing it back, I can tell you.” He smiled wryly.
Owen’s eyes filled with tears.
God I hope he’s talking about me and not Socks.
“In fact there are two people I owe everything to. One is my dad, Don, who unfortunately can’t be here tonight as he’s on a cruise in the Bahamas somewhere with his significant other.” Don and Heather had finally admitted their relationship as more than friends and as a celebration for Don’s sixty fifth birthday, the two of them had gone away together. “The other one is sitting over there.”
Nick pointed at Owen at the same time the cameras turned on where Owen was sitting. Nick’s smile at him was so tender and loving that Owen almost melted onto the floor in a pool of warmth and well being. He swallowed, trying hard to hold the tears at bay, not wanting to be seen bawling like a girl on national television at any time. He nodded and blew another kiss to Nick who pretended to catch it and then grinned.
The interviewer looked as if she was going to burst into loud sobs at the interaction between them too. “Oh that is absolutely precious,” she gushed and blushed at the words. “Sorry, that sounds so patronising and I didn’t mean it to be. I mean, it’s just wonderful seeing two people so in love as you two.”
Owen smiled at that and watched as the rest of the interview concluded without any further instances of men melting into gooey puddles. Finally it was all over and Nick stepped away, kissing Sarah on the cheeks and shaking hands. Owen slipped outside the room as Nick said his goodbyes. He waited in the show room, watching people stare at Nick’s paintings, hearing their ooh and aahs and smirking at some of their pretentious comments. He was no art expert but it certainly looked to him as if people liked the paintings. Warm arms suddenly wrapped around his waist and he leaned back into the warmth that he knew was Nick. He knew the feel of his man’s hard body, the soft swing of his hair against his cheek and the scent of La Coste aftershave.
“That didn’t go too badly,” Nick whispered in his ear.
Owen shivered in pleasure as Nick’s tongue darted inside his ear. He nodded. “And from the looks of the sold stickers being put on your paintings, babe, it looks like you needn’t have worried about your pictures not being sold.”
Nick nodded in wonder at he observed the hustle and bustle around him. “I know. It’s quite amazing. You were right, hotshot. And you know I hate to tell you that, don’t you?” His lips grazed the back of Owen’s neck. Owen closed his eyes, wishing they had some privacy so he could drag Nick away and do whatever he wanted to him to get rid of the extreme hard on in his trousers. Just then someone tugged Nick away from him. Owen scowled and turned to observe the rude interloper who’d taken his fantasy away from him. Lindy Vermeer, a tall, thin woman with bleached blonde hair was beaming excitedly at Nick
“Nick, darling, we’ve sold over half of the paintings already and have enquiries on others, and even have deposits over the phone on some of the others. This has been a really successful opening.” She yanked Nick away into the maelstrom of milling visitors and Nick threw an apologetic smile at Owen as he disappeared into the crowd. Owen sighed and plucked a large glass of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter.
Is this what I’m relegated to? Being the plus one of a famous painter and being abandoned when the royal rabble want him?
But deep inside the swell of pride and love he felt for Nick was overwhelming. There was nothing Owen wouldn’t do for him. To see him now, casually chatting to potential buyers and looking at ease and very damn sexy -definitely worth Owen becoming all caveman like when they got back to their plush London hotel later and dragging his boyfriend onto the bed – it made everything they’d both been through worthwhile. Just to be together and have Nick in his life – it was something he gave thanks for every day.
He raised his glass in Nick’s direction and was rewarded with a wide grin and a wink.
Oh yes, he knows exactly what I’d rather be doing. And from that glint in his eye, he feels the same. That new consignment of sex toys is so going to be christened tonight. Nick, baby, you’d better watch out. But first enjoy your moment of glory. You deserve every minute of it.
Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published last year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Worth Keeping is her third m/m romance.
Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself being a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.
Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.