High and Tight by Vanessa North ~ Review by Lirtle Grafton

This is a novella-length story about two men who are trying to reconcile their rather complicated and uneven past in an attempt to find out if they even have a chance at a future… together.

high and tight cover1 (190x300)Title: High and Tight

Author: Vanessa North

Publisher: Carina Press

My Rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Pilot Adam Walker has had one great love in his life: Harris Kingston. But twelve years ago, when he accepted a scholarship and joined the Navy, he chose duty to his country over love. Their on-again off-again relationship was never more than private joy, a frustrating fact of military life.

Harris never wanted to be anyone’s dirty little secret. When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed two years ago, Adam broke his heart one last time. He’s picked up the pieces and moved on, building a great career and dating guys who aren’t afraid to be seen in public with him. But when Adam strolls into his salon asking for a haircut, his newfound happiness goes to hell in a handbasket.

Adam’s been at war with himself for over a decade. Now on the verge of leaving the military, he’s desperate to court Harris the right way and be forgiven. With two weeks’ leave and a Navy man’s conviction, he’s ready to start over…if he can convince Harris he’s ready to come out and commit.

Will they or won’t they… after all of these years…

Harris and Adam have been friends, and more, off and on, since they were teenagers. It’s now about a dozen or so years past that. Harris is a hairdresser (there’s a reason behind this) who is very intelligent, funny and is looking for his future when it comes to a partner with whom to share it. Adam is essentially closeted, even after the repeal of DADT, a navy pilot who loves his job but loves Harris just as much, if not more.

These two definitely have some stuff to work out between them. It’s not just a result of the last three years, but really since they first met. This is the basis for this story. It’s not always easy to try and do what you feel is right, is best, for both yourself and the one you probably love more than anyone else, if you’re brave and smart enough to admit that. This is probably the biggest hurdle both of these men are dealing with

One of the things I always greatly enjoy and connect with about Ms. North’s writing is her unique characters. Their small gestures are their own. Their voices wouldn’t fit anyone else. They flourish in settings that are refreshingly specific, both geographically and in human terms, with family and friends, their jobs, etc. It may seem odd to put it this way, but we all know certain places feel a certain way and it definitely affects the behavior of their people. She is very good at capturing that in her writing.

Adam and Harris are, I would go as far as to say, desperate for each other. Not in that necessarily dysfunctional way (though one of them may disagree with me), but in that way of no matter what we do, what we want (or don’t want), we’re probably going to end up together and we just have to hope we don’t destroy each other along the way to that inevitable destination.

Several times, the idea of how long these two have known and loved each other is mentioned but in different terms, vaguely at that even, approximations. It did make it a bit confusing in trying to calculate it out. It’s a good thing to help remind readers since it strengthens the impact of what’s happening, but when it’s done using varying number of years and ages, it takes me out of the story, making me focus on this instead of the characters.

On the flip side, and this may be corny to say, but her writing and therefore storytelling continue to improve and I get such a good feeling in experiencing that with an author’s stories I enjoy reading. Without any necessarily obvious signs, the growing confidence is easy to spot and it’s exciting as hell. It’s always exciting to see anyone whose words you enjoy growing in their loved profession, in seeing them so clearly enjoying it. The style is smooth, nothing overdone, dialogue is natural (if not overly sweet in some spots, but then again, I don’t do sugary very much) and we’re given a full story with two guys to which most people could connect. Seriously, I’m totally smiling right now. 🙂

For me, there is definitely an element of that “thing” when, no matter how much time has passed, two people can pick up right where they left off. There is no reacquainting time needed, it’s literally like you just saw them a minute ago. Harris and Adam definitely have that, in all aspects of their relationship. Speaking of this, this is another unique thing in this story because their relationship is unique. It doesn’t fit any standard definition of friendship or lover or life-mate. One more instance of me wondering why we even have these definitions in life. I think most of us have had experiences with people that don’t fit into any boxes. This is an example of that and how difficult a thing it can be to navigate, especially when it’s something you so desperately want and love.

Oh and yes, as usual, this writer knows how to do steam and sexual connection and simply delish sack time. Sprinkle in the emotion at undeniably high levels, and you’re looking at some goooood schtuff.

I do have to say that a few of the reactions from some of the different characters felt insufficiently supported, at least in the truncated fashion they were presented. If I built up the scenes in my mind, I could understand their perspectives and resulting emotions but they still felt a bit unreal, and it undermined the intentions of those scenes. They could have been beefed up a bit more and the payoff would have been spectacular. I don’t disagree with the overall length of this story, it fits the one being told, but some parts could have been given more attention and increased the emotional factors.

I really liked this one. I would definitely recommend it, especially when you’re looking for those shorter reads we all love. This is one that gives you well-drawn characters and all of their baggage, giving us no choice but to get pulled along for the ride. I want to know more about Harris and Adam, and isn’t that one of the best things to feel after you’ve finished a story? I know it is for me. 🙂

Buy Links:

Carina Press
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank Carina Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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