Koehler, Christopher. “Tipping the Balance”, Dreamspinner Press, 2011.
Drew St. Charles has a realty and home improvement business but he needs help. He wants to hire a licensed contractor and he knows exactly who he wants, Brad Sundstrom. (Did you ever wonder where writers find names for their characters?). Brad’s family has been in the construction business for a long time and he knows the business but even more than that, he wants to branch out on his own and move away from his father’s influence. Besides, and not implicitly stated, the two men share an attraction for each other and when they begin to work together, both the contact and the excitement of starting something new, allows the two men to share their feelings (and Koehler shares that with us). Drew feels that his chance at love has finally come to him even though Brad is still in the closet. When Drew is the victim of a wild hate crime, Brad panics. Drew’s big project becomes the object of arson and Brad is forced to deal with his feelings and not only save the project but save Drew and become his “out” partner or return to work for his father. I think that because Brad is in the closet makes this that much more interesting as it adds another dimension to the novel. One of the subplots is certainly Brad’s search for himself and his sexual identity. He feels for Drew but he sublimates those feelings—after all, he lives at home and works for his father. I am not sure that Brad understands his feelings for Drew at first and he has to grow into them and into himself.
Drew really had to push Brad out of the closet and it was quite a push—in fact it seemed to be a bit too much for mild-mannered Brad. Obviously the author knows about the things he writes about as he gives us a lot of description which really did not push the story forward.
I really can’t say much more about the plot except that there are surprises here. Basically I enjoyed the read and was glad to see Brad and Drew find each other. Koehler is a good writer and tells a good story.