Color of Grace is the second book in the Cost of Repairs series by A.M. Arthur. This time around we have Schuyler and Barrett, two men without a great deal in common other than both having pasts, though each one handling the repercussions of those pasts in their own ways. If they pursue a relationship with one another, will there be any hope of a future together if one of them can't let go of the guilt he still carries?
Barrett McCall has experienced the highs and lows of his old life and has made the necessary changes in order for him to move forward and create a new and better life for himself. He used to be an artist, specializing in tattoos, and lived fast and hard...until it all came crashing down around him. Moving from one town to another, he's still looking for a place to call "home" but seems satisfied with what he's found so far in Stratton, Pennsylvania.
Schuyler Rhodes is the local high school's art teacher but prefers to live a structured life guided by plans and schedules. He's lived in Stratton almost all his life and prefers knowing what to expect from his everyday life. He loves his Aunt Dixie but he's still haunted by the drowning of her son, his cousin Matty, fifteen years ago. He hasn't really been able to deal with what happened that night, believing that he's somehow responsible in one way or another.
Barr works as the short order cook over at Dixie's Cup and while Sky visits the diner from time to time because of his Aunt Dixie, he and Barr never really interacted until the night of Samuel Briggs and Rey King's party. Noticing that Sky is dealing with some sort of burden, Barr, having been sober for more than a year, accompanies him to a local bar but does so only to keep an eye on him. From there, Sky and Barr embark on a friendship but both acknowledge their attraction for each other.
As weeks pass, Sky and Barr decide to move from being just friends who engage in casual sex to dating each other exclusively. Things are good between them but both have secrets in their pasts and while Barr shares his sooner rather than later, Sky is still hesitant to talk about what happened to Matty. Barr doesn't push him, as he simply continues to be there for Sky, providing care and support.
The return of someone from rocks Sky to his very core, making him deal with his pain by drinking to get drunk and Barr steps in to provide him with alternative methods, recognizing that consuming alcohol will never really give Sky the absolution he needs. He then decides to come clean and tell Barr everything about the night Matty died. However, the person from Sky's past has other plans, plans which may put a permanent end to Sky and Barr's relationship before it even has a chance to truly become everything it can be.
I enjoyed Sky and Barr's story as much as I did Sam and Rey's in book one, Cost of Repairs. I liked that Sky and Barr have had to deal with difficulty in their pasts but seem to be dealing with them very differently, with Sky still burdened by his cousin's death and Barr moving on from everything he's been through. This makes it then possible for Sky to learn from Barr but needing to accept the help and relinquish control, something he values greatly.
While Color of Grace may read as a standalone novel, I recommend that you read Cost of Repairs first, mainly because both Sky and Barr are introduced there and Sam and Rey are still part of this second book, albeit as supporting characters. The series takes place in the same town so you'll be encountering recurring characters and plot lines may be continued in later installments so reading the books in order will be a definite plus. ^.^ This second book gets 4.5 out of five stars. ♥
Date read: 04 September 2014
Learn more about the compelling A.M. Arthur here.