Josephine Myles

When he is nearly trapped in his house because of his overwhelming collection of reading material, from books to magazines and newspapers, librarian Jasper Richardson realizes he has a problem and needs professional help. He calls up psychologist Lewis Miller and his twin sister Carroll who own and run Wonderland Clutter Clearing, and so begins a delightful, moving look at how clutter brings two people together.

Thirty-three-year-old Jasper developed his hoarding tendencies after his mother died and now can’t figure out how to free himself from the years of accumulation. As a librarian in Bristol, England, he watches the deacquisition process and is constantly taking home discarded materials because they contain a wealth of knowledge which Jasper believes shouldn’t just be tossed away. But he can’t stand living in a house where the aisles from room to room are slowly closing up.

Thirty-year-old Lewis remembers Jasper well from school and always had a secret crush on him. When Lewis and his twin Carroll get to the house and experience the clutter first hand, they know they must help the man so he can live comfortably again, especially since Jasper’s home is such a potentially lovely one.

From the beginning Lewis and Jasper are attracted, but Lewis thinks it would be ethically wrong of him to date, at the least, or have sex, at the most, with a client. Consequently, as he recommends actions Jasper should take to declutter his life and stop acquiring castoff material, Lewis gives the shy man mixed messages about how much he likes him.

Myles avoids pointing fingers or deriding Jasper for his inability to control his habit of hoarding. Instead she paints Jasper as a man whose unquenchable desire for knowledge and whose horror at tossing materials with a wealth of information in them collide. Anyone who reads can sympathize with Jasper’s dilemma, especially since working at a library puts him in the middle of a paper versus digitizing society.

Jasper also has real demons to face and conquer besides his habit of incessant collecting. His mother’s death and the manner in which it came about are particularly painful; he’s afraid the memories will resurface if the house is cleared. Readers who have lost a loved one and either were tempted to build a shrine to the loved one by sealing off a bedroom will completely understand and sympathize with the charming and likeable Jasper.

However, twins Lewis and Carroll are the heart of the book. Their wonderful back and forth dialog as siblings demonstrate how thoroughly Myles is tuned into the twin relationship. Lewis himself is perfect for Jasper, not just because Lewis helps Jasper take baby steps in decluttering but also because he brings out Jasper’s loving nature. That Lewis himself needs help and gets it from Jasper makes the romance between them complete.

My only caveat is the ending which was a little too neat and tidy, almost in the fairytale sense, for a book that took such a realistic look at a recognized problem. Still, Myles is an author to watch for gay romances that make a reader’s heart sigh.