where the hurt, pain, broken hearts, loneliness and cries for help are.” ~ Steve Bertie
Mark Werner, of 'Bookmarked' by Piper Vaughn, sometimes forgets that it isn't as easy for some people to put themselves out there as it is for him. By nature, Mark usually is a happy guy who finds pleasure in sharing the books he loves with others. When his enthusiasm alienates one of his patrons, who just happens to be a popular author named Shepherd Knight, he deeply regrets it, especially when Shepherd stops coming to his shop. Mark is embarrassed and decides to respect Shepherd’s privacy; but uncomfortable or not, Mark desperately needs Shepherd's help. His bookstore, Bookmarked, is failing and he's afraid he will lose it altogether if he doesn't come up with something spectacular to draw attention to his store.
Mark loves books and has always wanted his own bookstore. 'Bookmarked' is his dream embodied. He works many long hours and sacrifices a lot to keep it running and the thought of losing it breaks his heart. Even though he has little hope of success, he emails Shepherd Knight with a request to do a book signing. When Mark doesn't even receive an acknowledgment of his message, he starts to think of the author as the rudest person around, with absolutely no social redeeming graces, particularly courtesy. Not to be deterred, Mark looks up his number and calls him. Needless to say, Mark's call is not well received, but at least he tries. Shepherd is extremely rude to him and, with nothing to lose, Mark loses his temper tells him exactly what he thinks of Shepherd's attitude and hangs up on him. Imagine his surprise when Mark receives an email from none other than Shepherd Knight himself, apologizing and accepting his invitation to be part of the program.
Mark doesn't quite know what to expect on the day of the signing, but he is hoping for the best. Shepherd arrives with his personal assistant, Brittany, but he certainly doesn't look happy to be there. Brittany is insistent on keeping the proceedings under strict control, which includes no readings by Shepherd. Mark notices Shepherd seems to be 'off' and asks if he is okay. Brittany answers for him adamantly saying that he is perfect and things are going to be great, but Mark isn't convinced. Mark watches him during the signing and checks up on him periodically, Mark realizes Shepherd is 'sweating bullets' and seems extremely uncomfortable. This behavior makes Mark reconsider his first opinion of Shepherd as rude and he wonders if there's a lot more to Shepherd's behavior than is apparent.
This is the first book in what appears to be a delightful series. Heartsville is a wonderful gay-friendly community whose residents work together to make it a better place. Mark is absolutely adorable and I admire his enthusiasm and determination. His father, Bruno, is a great character as well; knowing him shows where Mark gets his positive attitude. There are lots of great stories to come and I can hardly wait. If you enjoy spirited book lovers, supportive families and friends, and grumpy, but talented authors, you may like this story. I know I did! Thanks, Piper, for introducing me to the good people of Heartsville.