Book Reviews

Never (A Pennymaker Tale) by Tara Lain at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 21-November-2017

Book Blurb

Wendell “Wen” Darling lives in a world of shoulds and musts. Left to care for his brother and sister by his dull drudge of a father and wacko irresponsible mother, he suppresses his creativity, slaving in an ad agency seventy hours a week, letting his no-talent supervisor take the credit.


Then his bosses blow the campaign for their biggest client and Wen gets a chance to shine—but only if he can find the artist who painted a wild, glorious wall of graffiti in the subway. Hiding behind a pillar at 2:00 a.m., Wen comes face-to-face with the scarlet-haired, elven-faced embodiment of his divergent opposite—Peter Panachek, the flighty, live-for-today painter, singer, and leader of the rock group the Lost Boys. Everything Wen takes seriously, Peter laughs off, but opposites attract, even if their kisses always lead to battles. Peter’s devil-may-care persona hides a world of secrets, self-protection, and hidden fears, until the day a drug dealer, Vadon Hooker, threatens everything Wen holds dear. Guided by the mysterious Mr. Pennymaker, Peter has to choose between facing responsibility or burrowing even deeper into Neverland.


Book Review

"Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard." ~ Colin Powell

Being responsible is a good thing, but giving up your whole life for someone else is detrimental to you and those around you. Wen Darling's entire life revolves around his sister and brother, whom he has had custody of since his father died and his mother left years ago. Wen never has time for himself. He doesn't resent it, but it does have an effect on how he relates to his siblings. He can't seem to find a balance between work and relaxation. When an important client rejects an advertising campaign he's worked hard on, Wen fears that he will lose his job. When he's given a second chance, the pressure ramps up even more. Wen needs something new and exciting that will catch the client's eye and save his position at the company. On the way home, he notices some awesome graffiti, art on a scale he's never seen before. Wen is desperate to find the artist. He tells his sister and brother about what he discovered and they encourage him to go back to the subway and “catch” the artist in action. Reluctantly, but desperate, Wen follows their advice.

The artist turns out to be Peter Panachek who hangs out in Neverland with his lost boys and Tink. Wen needs Peter's help, but Peter blows him off.  His anti-establishment attitude makes it below him to commercialize his work for any reason, but when Wen tells him why he's so insistent on help, i.e, he needs his job to support his siblings, it gives Peter pause. He prides himself on living a carpe deum existence, having no ties and worries. His concern for Wen's family leads him to go against his normal nature and agree to paint for Wen under one condition: no one knows who the artist is. Naturally, Wen is ecstatic and greatly relieved. He's sure when his client sees Peter's work, he will be so impressed that he will agree to let them conduct the campaign.

Along with Peter being in his apartment, Wen also “inherits” Tink and the rest of the lost boys, who hang out most of the time, to Wen's distain. His sister and brother, who hardly have any fun since Wen is so busy working all the time, think it's wonderful! They become attached to the gang, especially Peter. Wen is baffled about how he can be so attracted to someone who seems to be so irresponsible, yet, he continued to become involved with him. When things get physical, they also become more complicated. Peter feels like he's going against his nature and so does Wen, but opposites can attract. Wen is frustrated with Peter. He wonders why Peter is always so guarded about his past, and shies away from being exposed in any way. Wen suspects that he's hiding something, but doesn't want to push him too hard. When Wen finally wanders into Peter's world at the club called Neverland, he's confronted by the sleazy Vadon Hooker, who manages the club. Hooker is bad news and Peter wants him nowhere near Wen. Peter has become very attached to Wen and he's important to him. Peter is terrified that Hooker will find a way to hurt Wen by using him to get to Peter.

Tara has done an excellent job creating her version of the Peter Pan story with Wen as Wendy, Tink as Tinkerbell, Vadon Hooker as Captain Hook, Peter's band as the lost boys who look up to him just as in the original, and the incomparable Peter himself. Tara also adds the special magic that only Mr. Pennymaker has with his ability to make almost anything happen. The basic theme is still the same. Life is a balance and neither extreme makes for a happy life. Everyone has to grow up and be responsible sometime, but it doesn't have to all be drudgery and seriousness. If you can find a job you love and make sure you don't take life too seriously, then the happy ending everyone dreams of can happen. Thanks, Tara, for this delightful tale, retold.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 210 pages/63890 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 03-November-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
Buy Link