Tag Team Review: Runner by Parker Williams

Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.

He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—

But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life.


Lost in a Book - 3.5 Hearts

I was drawn to this book. Not because I’m a runner (unless I’m being chased). No, it was the angsty premise with the reclusive MC that had me all caveman; MINE!

376 steps was all it took to change his world. Matt is a recluse living out in the middle of nowhere coping day to day in isolation. He has been merely surviving for 13 years since he was assaulted at the age of 16 without friends or family. Matt struggles with PTSD and OCD so each day is scheduled and always predictable until a runner passes his land in 376 steps. The runner continues to run by his property at the same time each day; back and forth. This unforeseeable situation throws Matt’s peaceful day into chaos. Matt calls his brother Clay, the sheriff and demands he speak to the runner to get him away from his property. Unfortunately for Matt, Clay is extremely worried about his mental health and unless Matt approaches the runner, Clay is threatening to have him placed in a treatment facility. To prove he is fine, Matt is required to make an approach and learn his name within a week. That’s it, simple right? Not for Matt. After putting the moment off as long as possible, Matt makes an approach and meets Charlie.

Charlie is a writer that moved from New York to Fall Harbor for peace. Along with writing, he works at the local library in town. Charlie enjoyed running and is intrigued by the mysterious man who watches him each day. Once Matt makes his approach, a slow and tentative friendship begins to form. Charlie is able to slowly insert himself into the very fabric of Matt’s carefully constructed world. Matt began to need Charlie to run by each day. His very presence was a soothing balm to Matt’s terror, anxiety and fear. Charlie’s simple touch grew more effective than Matt’s previous ritualistic coping methods. Charlie became the calm in Matt’s raging storm.

I liked Matt and Charlie together. Charlie had a calm sincerity that put Matt at ease. I really liked the authentic way the author handled Matt’s struggles. There wasn’t a quick fix for him. Those that struggle with OCD, PTSD, etc., face a lifetime battle. Matt had a difficult time adapting and it wasn’t glossed over. Keeping in mind the obstacles Matt faced and his fear of being touched, their physical relationship reflected that fear and showed care in each milestone Matt was able to accomplish. Charlie was extremely patient and perfect.

A little too perfect.


The sugar laced words kept going on and on after 50%. The first 50% of the story I was totally digging it as Matt was beginning to accept something new in his life and the last 50% hit some potholes. It wasn’t insta-love but it wasn’t too far off either. I’m not quite sure where the love came from. We were cruising along on the very-little-interaction-and-watching-Charlie-run expressway and then BAM it’s love. Come again? Color me confused. The MCs were also a weeee bit dramatic at times which also played into the sugarfest going on. Another minor issue I had was the treatment of Matt when he was 16. After meeting with his psychologist and Dr. Rob asking about the assault one time, Matt decided he wasn’t going back and although it didn’t go over well at home, the issue was eventually dropped and Matt as a 16 year old stopped living. Another pothole in the story was only having Matt’s POV. Charlie lacked depth beyond him being a writer and doing everything he could to accommodate Matt. We missed out on what makes Charlie, Charlie.

I’d like to give a shoutout to Clay, Matt’s brother. It’s a damn cryin’ shame he is straight. I could totally get on board with a gay for you story line with his bossy copper self and another male MC. I really liked how much he loved Matt, pushed him and was always there for him.

All in all it was a decent read. If you like sugarfests in your romance, this book may be for you. Please excuse me while I make a dentist appointment to fix all these newly acquired cavities.

“Today you can’t. Tomorrow might be another story. Every day brings new adventures, so don’t worry about today, when tomorrow is around the corner.”

Sara - 4.5 Hearts

It’s hard not to review this book and reflect on it personally as so much of it hit me personally.

Let me try though, okay?

Matt Bowers was your average sixteen year old boy in love with his yellow car and crushing on boys when an adult took advantage of him sexually. From there, Matt’s OCD begins to service with cleaning and keeping things he can control in order. Though his mother tried to get him help, it wasn’t enough and Matt wasn’t cooperating enough so he gave in and gave up. When his settlement money from the incident was available at age 18, he bought some property away from the town to live alone.

I get Matt in a lot of ways. I know exactly when and what caused my OCD to surface and mine started with just my room to the rest of the house as well. Cleaning walls with an ammonia solution and tiled floors on my hands and knees with rags while making sure the china cabinet and all valuables in it shined as if the Queen were coming for tea. Books were arranged by author last name, then chronological release unless they were in a series than series trumped dates. All spices, canned goods and boxes were ordered alphabetically with labels facing forward. It was time consuming and yet calming for me to keep things in order. While I have been able to recognize what is my OCD rituals and how to let some of them go, when life gets stressful and other issues like anxiety, panic attacks or depression decide they want to play… my OCD gets ridiculously worse and I have to put what I can in order no matter how long it takes.

I am also an introvert in the classic sense and if you are familiar with the Myers Briggs test, I am an INTJ. Put all of that together with my mental health and let me tell you on a deep level I got Matt. The thing that drew me to this book was the blurb; of Matt living alone secluded on a property but seeing a runner… because while I have a few *cough* issues, running is my salvation, and how this new intruder gets to be part of Matt’s life.

There are a few things in this book that I can see not working for the majority of readers but for me, they worked because I have first-hand experience with them. Someone close to me was in a terrible accident when they were 16 and that accident resulted in a death. This person, they BS’d their way out of therapy and both sets of parents did nothing to ensure they were okay. School’s pushed them through their senior year and a downward spiral of addiction began to drag this person down. To this day with almost 26 years since the accident, they are still pretty messed up in ways that differ from Matt because this person has become addicted to alcohol and Matt has become addicted to keeping himself safe with his OCD and isolation. But as they say, same shit – different story, right?

Anyway, between that and my own issues with OCD, I got Matt and for me the romance and his entire story made sense.

So, Matt has been living on his property for the last 13 years alone, maintaining his schedule that keeps him grounded when a stranger runs by his property one day and then every day like clockwork at 10:30am. As this daily run occurs, this runner becomes part of Matt’s routine. Matt isn’t all that comfortable with the runner but he’s intrigued and after the man waves a few times, Matt even waves back though it doesn’t stop him from calling and complaining to his brother Clay who is also the town Sheriff. Matt just wants the man to go away so he can continue with his life as it was but once the disruption of schedule happens, the runner becomes part of Matt’s schedule. When Matt is tasked by his brother to get the man’s name so he can ask the man to change his route, we see baby steps and growth in Matt.

Goodness but when Clay asked Matt to get the man’s name I felt my own anxiety heighten because the guy is a stranger and what if he wanted to engage in small talk? But Matt is brave and walks to his fence but after a few words, Matt has a panic attack and things go south.

The panic attack leads Matt to make a brave call one night asking for help from his brother who also brings the runner who we now know is named Charlie. I have to say that I adore both Clay and Charlie though at times I wanted to flick them on the nose HARD! I get what Clay and his mother did because they want Matt back who has ostracized himself from his family to stay sane but it was dirty. I am thankful Charlie is the man he is and always comes back to make sure Matt understands the situation and that things are okay.

Through events that push Matt out of his comfort zone and push him toward making decision that promotes a growth within; Matt and Charlie not only develop a friendship but begin a romance.

Yeah, insta love happens in this book but I bought it and reveled in it. They say love is a powerful thing and can change a person. I mean, isn’t that why we read romance, why folks write it and songs are sung about it? We are in love with the idea that love can change someone, can make someone a better person but as a famous song said, sometimes love just ain’t enough and that’s where free will comes in. Matt chose to live alone, isolated from his family because that choice was what made sense to him and his safety but once Charlie arrives, the world Matt has known changes color and he wants more. So yup. I fell for the insta-love and how all of it goes down, even the talks about Charlie’s ex because it was a reassurance to a sometimes doubting Matt.


I won’t go into much of the book because I am sure others will, I really just want to say that I found the story lovely and respectful. When you have someone who has mental health issues it does take someone who is half way to perfect to deal with them and love them through it all. Lord knows I put my husband and children through enough with my OCD that they are heartbroken when they can’t do things for me like make me a meal because I wouldn’t be able to eat it for OCD reasons. They get worried when I wear myself down cleaning or cooking and doing things to soothe my OCD but they know there is no way to help because even if they tried, I would have to do it again to be grounded. It’s not easy to live and love me, but I am thankful my family gets me FOR me and I am thankful that Charlie gets all of who Matt truly is.

Runner for me was a book about a young man who was so traumatized that his own brain turned against him and isolated him from love and life. It was only through the measured steps and breaths of a runner that Matt begins to heal, grow and find his own path to happiness.

Don't miss Parker Williams' Runner blog tour + giveaway HERE

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