Forty-two Stairs

A.F. Henley
Forty-two Stairs
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Less Than Three Press
Release Date
June 2014
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Owen has been struggling with addiction since he was a teenager, but it takes a DUI involving another vehicle for him to finally face his issues. The road to recovery is a rough one, and for Owen it's a journey made harder by bankruptcy, loneliness, and repressed memories.

His new apartment doesn't help either. It's small, worn, and hot as hell. The only way to reach it is a tedious stretch of stairs that seems like the final insult on top of a whole pile of misery. Thankfully, the mess comes with one bright spot: intense, pretty Sebastian, who seems to have a knack for keeping his head up and finding the beauty in everything.

Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Apr 25, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
167 people found the following review helpful
There might be 12 steps to the AA program, but for Owen, a recovering alcoholic, the 42 stairs leading up to his new apartment are the real challenge.

Owen started drinking heavily when he was a teen, but it took two DUI's and nearly killing people in another car as well as a judge's sentence to persuade him to get his life in order. In the process, Owen, who's in his early thirties, loses his boyfriend Eli, his house, his money, and job while picking up a mountain of debt as a result of legal expenses, fines and penalties.

What he retained was an AA sponsor, his loyal younger brother Dennis, who helps him move into a miniscule low-rent apartment, and 42 stairs from ground floor up to his new life.

On move-in day, Owen meets Sebastian who has the apartment below his. In his mid-twenties, Sebastian, with his purple hair, elfin face, and artistic nature, is completely out of Owen's experience as a former white collar worker with a flashy car and elegant home. More than anything, Sebastian challenges Owen to find out who he really is and what he wants out of life.

In the process, Owen must come to terms with his brother, his former lover, and his sponsor as well as figure out what's best for himself. When the sponsor tells Owen that having sex with anyone while he's in recovery would be a setback, Owen is skeptical since Sebastian has been the most supportive influence since he started climbing the 42 stairs.

As he works through his addiction, Owen starts doubting both his sponsor and the rigid-seeming program in favor of his new life with free spirit Sebastian. In fact, the significance of the 42 stairs begins to have more meaning for him the more he peels away his old self to reveal his new one.

For all his past reputation as an irresponsible alcoholic, Owen in reality is a thoughtful, deliberate man who has followed the life path that society dictates as success even though it doesn't really appeal to him. Meeting Sebastian, whose laid back approach to life challenges the status quo, is a revelation to Owen.

Sebastian, however, is a little murkier character. Readers will know a lot about his philosophy by the end of the book, but hardly anything about how he keeps himself afloat financially. Despite this, he is the catalyst who challenges Owen to think for himself and discover why he turned to alcohol and whether he can successfully set it aside.

Sebastian also needs someone like Owen to look out and care for him just as much as Owen needs Sebastian. Together they prove that even the most self-assured of us needs someone to make us more than what we are alone.
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