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EXCERPT from THE INFINITE ONION by ALICE ARCHER

GRANT 

The thorough shave and scrubbing I gave myself with the abundance of water felt so good I dawdled afterwards. Also, I had to wait to air dry. I’d draped my only towel over a log to sit on while I bathed, which meant the towel was soaked by the time I was clean. To fling water off my hair, I shook my head until my brain rattled. Didn’t help much. Water dripped over me while I lounged. Bits of sunlight moved across my closed eyelids.

I thought of Oliver at the dining table with his arms crossed, the rounded muscles of his shoulders and arms pushing against his T-shirt. I wondered again what his sparkling copper hair would look like freed from its sloppy topknot and spread over his shoulders. My fingers scrunched the towel as I gripped Oliver’s hair in my imagination.

If he kept his hair up all the time to get it out of the way, why didn’t he just cut it off? I was glad he hadn’t, but it bugged me that I never got to see it down. I was half convinced Oliver only got under my skin because I couldn’t think clearly around his glorious hair.

I’d never had a type—a collection of qualities I could count on to crank my motor. But I’d never seen anyone who looked like Oliver. So maybe I did have a type. Ruddy, clear skin. Perfect, regal nose. Full beard. Biceps galore. Miles of glinty hair.

If Oliver sat next to me on the towel and let his hair down, freed it to flow over his freckled shoulders in the dappled sunlight…

Jesus. 

I opened my eyes and looked around. Yep. I was out in the open with a boner. I also was very alone. Hmm. Could be fun. But I didn’t want to think about Oliver. That door would be too difficult to close once I’d opened it. I didn’t need a memory of a sex daydream to add awkward embarrassment to all the other uncomfortable feelings Oliver seemed adept at pulling from me.


About the Author

Alice has questions. Lots of questions. Scheming to put fictional characters through the muck so they can get to a better place helps her heal and find answers. She shares her stories with the hope that others might find some healing too. For decades, Alice has messed about with words professionally, as an editor and writing coach. She also travels a bunch. Her home base is Eugene, Oregon.

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Our Review

‘Not a soul on earth knows where I am. If no one knew where I was, no one could kick me out.’

The Infinite Onion by Alice Archer came as such a wonderful, passionately written surprise. As the title suggests this book was indeed a story built on layers of human emotions, human struggles, human behaviour as well as consequences. This is the first book we’ve read by this Author and we were in awe of the depth of story and character development. Right from the beginning, a steady drum of momentum built –ever so slowly– yet intricately written with an emphasis on the characters. We were intrigued and compelled by Grant and Oliver, as individuals as well as the importance of their mutually healing relationship. Their story of what shaped their ‘now’. Where one showed an apparent strength the other was at a place in life where everything seemed overwhelmingly insurmountable. However, the face we show others may not always be the face of our truth.

‘I put my fist to my chest a third time, blinked hard, and tapped my heart with gentle beats, a request to come back to life, an attempt to save my own life. I lost my childhood.’

Grant is confronted with the realisation that his life is not his own. He is trapped and rejected by the people in his life. Stifled and looked down upon, he becomes a wanderer with a sense of an unknown purpose which, whilst unbeknownst to him, leads him to the most important crossroads of his life. Angry, defeated and confused, he ends up in a place that still holds a thread of connection with the life he’s been living up until now. What Grant could never have foreseen was that forced homelessness and an infinity with kids, stemming from a lost childhood, would so greatly alter his future purpose. Nor could he know that this personal healing would be supported and reciprocated by the artistically reclusive, Oliver. Had anyone ever cared enough about Grant for him to feel secure, loved and appreciated? Grant stole our hearts. His journey had us feeling overwhelmingly sad, protective as well as joyful when he finally begins to discover the truth of who he is at heart and who he was always meant to be.

‘He’s in pain. He’s hiding from something big. He’s amazing. He’s an imperious jerk. He’s in love with the wrong person. He’ll be better when I’m gone.’

Oliver was a pillar of rational strength. An artist in the woods with a penchant for helping people overcome their troubles, their defeats and their tragedies. However, we just knew that there was multiple layers to this emotionally stoic man, and as the story unfolded, the way in which his hidden struggles were revealed, further broke our hearts. He too had to uncover his own truth and face it head on to overcome the pain of loneliness and embrace what he could finally have. A peaceful life where he is loved, and where those who love him, stay.

‘Deep inside, the lonely children we still were sewed the scar tissue closed, sewed again, sewed through trial and terror, groped for tools small enough to fit our small hands, tried and tried to rise above the bleeding. Shouts for help through layers and fears and years. Don’t forget about me.’

We truly loved this epic journey of a story which was purely character driven. It was meticulously written and embraces so many important aspects of life, family, love and acceptance. It highlighted the importance and relevance of our childhood upon our adulthood. How every emotional aspect of every experience can dictate our coping mechanisms as well as how we view not only ourselves but other people, as well as the world in which we live. The infinite Onion was a powerful and relevant story which touched our hearts immensely.

‘He smiles that smile and kisses me for the first time, as if his smile was always supposed to be a kiss.’

Synopsis

The truth is harder to hide when someone sharp starts poking around.

Grant Eastbrook hit the ground crawling after his wife kicked him out. Six months later, in Seattle without a job or a place to live, he escapes to the woods of nearby Vashon Island to consider his options. When he’s found sleeping outdoors by a cheerful man who seems bent on irritating him to death, Grant’s plans to resuscitate his life take a peculiar turn.

Oliver Rossi knows how to keep his fears at bay. He’s had years of practice. As a local eccentric and artist, he works from his funky home in the deep woods, where he thinks he has everything he needs. Then he rescues an angry man from a rainy ditch and discovers a present worth fighting the past for.

Amid the buzz of high summer, unwelcome attraction blooms on a playing field of barbs, defenses, and secrets.

Standalone romance. HEA.

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