5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Robert Halliwell

Review: A Way Back to Then by Robert Halliwell

Title: A Way Back to Then (A Tales from Foster High Story)

Author: Robert Halliwell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Mr. Halliwell not only makes this story his own but presents to his readers an exciting, witty, smart and deliciously snarky voice that could never be mistaken for anything other than genuine and fresh!

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Robbie DeCaro leaves Foster, Texas and returns to Long Island, searching for the life he had before the tragic loss of his only love.

Snarky yet good-hearted Robbie DeCaro made his first appearance in the pages of Tales from Foster High: End of the Innocence, years after the loss of his first and only love. A New York transplant, Robbie now decides that his work is done in the town of Foster, and the time has come for him to leave Texas.

Returning to his childhood home on Long Island, Robbie reunites with his family members. Each using their own unique methods, they try in vain to help Robbie reset to a life he knew before he left it all for the fairy-tale love he found, then tragically lost.

As he remembers some of the darkest moments from his past, Robbie wonders if he’ll ever find the “after” in “happily ever after.”

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Review: Before I begin my review, I want to speak to something very important when it comes to new authors such as Robert Halliwell. It’s not often that an author establishes such a solid “voice” in his first novel. Just so we are on the same page, the author’s voice, as it is described on Writeability, is as follows: “Voice is the author’s style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character.”

That is a very powerful statement, and sometimes it takes authors several stories before they find their way. In this case, where the novel in question, A Way Back to Then, is actually a spinoff featuring a character from a highly popular and established series, Tales from Foster High, it was pretty imperative that Mr. Halliwell establish his own voice so as not to merely imitate John Goode, the author of the aforementioned series. I am so excited and delighted to report that Mr. Halliwell not only makes this story his own but presents to his readers an exciting, witty, smart and deliciously snarky voice that could never be mistaken for anything other than genuine and fresh!

What an incredible first novel this author wrote for us. Jumping right from the Foster High series, A Way Back to Then seamlessly picks up on the life of Robbie DeCaro, the Long Island transplant who’d moved to Foster with his boyfriend Riley a few years previous. When Riley was killed during a hit and run hate crime, Robbie began on a self-destructive path, embracing and unleashing his “inner Diva,” and erecting a wall so high and thick around his heart that it is doubtful he will ever love again.

Plagued by panic attacks and a pain that runs so deep, he is finally able to come to terms with a friend who watched the accident but did nothing to help as Riley lay dying in his arms. Prior to his packing up and heading home to his mother’s home in Long Island, Robbie finds a restless peace with the town of Foster, and leaves the dregs of his bitterness over their quiet bigotry behind. Once home, he feels so lost, and while he tries to reconnect with former friends (and I use that term loosely), he finds that he can’t bring himself to do the cruising bar scene again. It takes his sister, Nicole, and her crafty blind date set up to finally bring Robbie back into the dating scene, with near disastrous results. The real question becomes, can Robbie ever find the strength and bravery to let that wall he is so safe behind crumble and let someone in? Could this blind date, Sebastian, be the one who can finally break through?

I could give you paragraphs about the supporting cast, the main characters, the wit and humor of the rapier sharp dialogue, and the incredible journey that Robbie finally begins once he allows himself the luxury of being happy, and trusting that emotion again. I could remark on Robbie’s family and their love/fighting/bitchery that makes them some of the most interesting and hilarious secondary characters ever to grace a novel. I could tell you that while this novel draws its origins in the Foster High series, it is a completely different animal and could indeed be the anchor for a new series by Robert Halliwell—should he choose to continue Robbie and Sebastian’s story (by the way, I vote a BIG YES on that idea). Finally, I could tell you that this new author, this amazing new “voice,” is never run-of-the-mill, overdone or trite, but dynamic, humorous, heartbreaking and incredibly well written.

Instead, I will say just this: buy this book. Don’t miss out on what I believe could be one of the freshest new voices in the M/M genre. This story will make you feel a gamut of emotions, and, each time, leave you breathless and hungry for just a little more of this marvelous story.

TNA_Signature_Sammy







 

You can buy A Way Back to Then here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Robert Halliwell

Guest Post: A Way Back to Then by Robert Halliwell

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You would think that designing the cover for a book would be the easiest part of the entire novel process. You would be frustratingly mistaken.

How does one try to sum up a 200 page story with just one image? Well, lemme tell ya. It ain’t easy. I knew what I wanted. I just couldn’t put into words what it was. I looked over countless images and other book covers to get me inspired, but nothing jumped out at me.

Sure, I could just put two scantily-clad buff men on the cover and call it day, but that wasn’t me and it certainly wasn’t anything to do with what was written inside. I wanted something that people would recognize and would bring up a certain feeling when they saw it.

I bounced ideas off of my friend and collaborator John Goode. He helped me immensely and if I don’t give some credit, I’ll never hear the end of it. Believe me.

(These are jokes, people. Don’t worry.)

Anyhoozles, I knew that my main character, Robbie, was living in a “fractured fairy tale” of sorts and I needed to convey that on the cover.

A broken glass slipper, a cracked lamp or even a magical, wilting rose.

I sent these ideas with a brief description of A Way Back to Then to my publisher’s art department. Bless your heart, Paul, for all your patience. He sent me back beautiful designs, but my eyes always returned to one.

With minor adjustments here and there, Paul created the book cover that I’m proud to have my name on. Beauty & the Beast has always been my favorite movie that Disney has put out, and it was important to me to pay homage to it on my first novel.

The fragile red rose underneath the bell jar that mustn’t be touched. Unfortunately, in my story, the protective glass has been cracked and a little band-aid is all that’s holding it together with the fear that it could shatter at any moment.

~Robert Halliwell

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A Way Back to ThenBlurb: A Tales from Foster High Story

Snarky yet good-hearted Robbie DeCaro made his first appearance in the pages of Tales from Foster High: End of the Innocence, years after the loss of his first and only love. A New York transplant, Robbie now decides that his work is done in the town of Foster, and the time has come for him to leave Texas.

Returning to his childhood home on Long Island, Robbie reunites with his family members. Each using their own unique methods, they try in vain to help Robbie reset to a life he knew before he left it all for the fairy-tale love he found, then tragically lost.

As he remembers some of the darkest moments from his past, Robbie wonders if he’ll ever find the “after” in “happily ever after.”

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Author BioAbout the Author: Robert Halliwell hails from the mysterious land of Ronkonkoma in the Island of Long and grew up dreaming of the day the dark, handsome Mediterranean Prince of his dreams would whisk him away from the boring life he was accustomed to to a land far, far away…from his mother. A magical place full of roller skates and rainbows called Xanadu. Unfortunately, that never happened, but was instead whisked away to the dark kingdom of Westchester County and the “prince” turned out to be a very pale country bumpkin from Schenectady. Yes, it’s a real place. When he’s not spending the day writing, Robert can be found at home taking care of his four-legged children, Kira, Carter & Willow and viewing unhealthy amounts of QVC much to the dismay of his husband, Kevin.

Robert is still waiting for Lynda Carter to sign the adoption papers he sent her in 1998.

Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, folks! Welcome back to another look at what we have in store for you here at The Novel Approach in the week ahead. We’ve got some truly excellent guests stopping by this week to offer good words and giveaways to all of you, so enjoy this little preview of what you can expect in the next six days.

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we have Alex A. Akira on deck to chat a bit about his Dojo Boys series

We’ll also have Hayden Thorne dropping by today to talk about her new book The Golem Upstairs, book two in the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles series

Tuesday – Author Ann Lister makes The Novel Approach a stop today on her Meant for Me blog tour

And we’ll also be helping Eden Winters reveal the new covers in her Diversion series

WednesdayBelinda Burke will be our guest today on her Undone blog tour

Cardeno C. joins us, too, with four new(ish) releases—re-releases to be more specific—on the horizon, and the chance for four lucky readers to win one of those e-books

We’ll also have a new edition of DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk”, and this time Carole Cummings herself is in the hot-seat, courtesy of J Tullos Hennig, talking a bit about her upcoming Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel Blue on Black

Thursday – On tour for the re-release of book two in the Flesh series, we’ll have Ethan Stone with us to chat about Flesh & Blood

We’ll also have author Robert Halliwell joining us to talk cover art and his new book A Way Back to Then, book seven in John Goode’s Tales From Foster High series

Friday – Author Brandon Shire drops in today on his Wicked Men blog tour

Also joining us is RJ Scott, who’s here to talk about her new release, Retrograde

Saturday – And closing out our week, we’ll have authors Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese dropping by on their Phoenix blog tour

As well as Joe Cosentino, who’ll be here to talk a bit about his new novel Drama Queen, and why he created the series

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And that does it for today. Until next Sunday, happy reading!

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