Review: Pins and Needles by A.J. Thomas

The truth is rarely seen on the surface, and getting to it might mean digging deep…

After a devastating accident and a long stay in the hospital, the last thing petroleum engineer Sean Wilkinson wants to deal with is the settlement the oil company tries to force on him. He’ll never be able to work in his field again, his education is all but useless, and his surgeons are pessimistic about whether he’ll ever walk again. He needs someone in his corner, but most lawyers take one look at his tattoo-covered foster father and turn their backs. It’s just Sean’s luck that the one attorney willing to give him a chance is also the hottest guy he’s ever seen.

As a trial lawyer, Nate Delany has a lot to prove—to his father, the world, and himself. Sean intrigues Nate, and he struggles to reconcile the gifted tattoo artist he can’t stop fantasizing about with the quiet, brilliant engineer. His investigation reveals facts left out of the accident report—including an illicit affair, greedy coworkers, and a vicious corporation that will do anything to protect its bottom line. When Sean’s life is threatened, winning Sean’s case, and his heart, becomes a lot more dangerous.

Sean's life is dramatically derailed when an accident occurs and nearly saws him in two. He's left having to reconfigure his life and future and battle the potential of never being able to walk again. When the man who essentially raised him reaches out for legal assistance against the oil company whose ship Sean was on (and who Sean had just started officially working for days before), he meets Nate, who is as stubborn and proud as he, sans the tattoos.

Nate is tired of living in the shadow of people taking credit for his work. Against his father's wishes, he leaves the firm behind and heads out on his own. His first case? Well, certainly not what he expected, and the attraction to Sean is immediate.

Through twists and turn, the men seek answers (all while trying to stay alive.)
“Come on, let’s go for a walk and—” He stopped and slapped himself in the forehead. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…. I’m just sorry.”
Sean chuckled. “They didn’t reprogram my brain to avoid normal figures of speech when they gave me the wheelchair. We can go for a walk.”
Something that I love about A.J. Thomas is that they manage to provide what feels like authentic representation. While not differently abled in the same way as Sean, I have my own physical battles. I felt for Sean as I went through the story and watched him give a middle finger to societies standards for who he can be. I chose the quote above because I think it provides a good example of that in a way that is accessible.

The story has steam, but it is certainly not steam-powered (see what I did there?) It is very much so plot-driven and I really found myself enjoying it. I had predicted at least one of the aspects of who was behind a lot of mayhem, but didn't have it figured out completely. I will say that while A.J. did a great job of making such a complex field and science more understandable, there were times I was still like "what the what?" - and that is part of what took my rating down some. Lucky for everyone, I am not an engineer. We'd all be screwed.

The epilogue felt a bit rushed, but I did like where it went and I don't know that it would've made sense for the story to be extended. It just ended up coming across as reading a 1,000 word paragraph in 20 seconds. Whoooosh.

In the end, this is a solid story by a solid author, and I definitely enjoyed the complex characters, enjoyable side characters, and subplots surrounding family for both Nate and Sean.

A review copy was provided.

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