Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Sometimes holding on means letting go
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
This one took some time to unfurl. Three chapters in and everything was coming in drips and dribbles. I didn’t quite have a grip on Christopher and Jesse and who they are. Slow and steady wins the race? Sometimes it does, that’s for sure. Sometimes it doesn’t.
I was about a quarter of the way into the book and was still struggling to connect with Jesse and Christopher. For as much detail included, I wasn’t finding that “in”, the key to unlock it all. I finally figured it out: they aren’t all that memorable a couple of characters for me, personally. I really don’t like saying that at all, but it’s true. The facts about their lives, how things supposedly made them feel, they’re all there but didn’t translate emotionally for me. The main exception is the end, more on that later.
Blake’s writing, as usual, is clean and easy to read, no hiccups in the structure or grammar departments. What is missing, for me, is that equally high level of ease in terms of emotion and the desire I normally have to become invested in her characters. I’ve been there and had all of that with her creations in the past.
I do like that both Chris and Jesse understand and accept that they both had lives, made mistakes in those lives, and relationships, had sex and everything else, all before they met. Neither one passes judgment on the other for any of their admitted stumbles and are instead adept at looking for and extolling the positive. That’s very cool, heartening and hopeful.
Jesse and his family are dealing with a serious, long-term situation. It’s alluded to with some explanation but not in a way that makes it feel a major part of the overall story. It’s meant to be one of the obstacles Jesse and Chris must deal with, but then it’s treated with so little attention, it made me wonder why it was included. Trying to have your literary cake and eat it, too, along with ignoring the need to work off the calories. Why treat something so important as a cause but then not really deal with the effects? I think there were a lot of missed opportunities to explore the emotional impact of the whole thing.
It’s a weird thought: it felt like this book should have started somewhere in the middle of what was written, and then so much more could have been done with the second act.
As I’ve mentioned, Blake’s writing is sure footed and that’s no different in this book. For me, I need to feel connection above and beyond that. I didn’t make it there with this one. That may not be the case for you, at all. I actually hope it’s not. There are one hundred percent worthy ideas and topics in this story.
The one emotional thread that revealed itself and remained constant involved the scenes with the kids. No repetition, it was all grounded and made sense.
I think another obstacle for me was the big point of conflict was visible from very early on. I could see it coming and both points of view. This can work in a story, no doubt. In order for that to happen, the natural tension that continues to build until the big clash needs to be there. Otherwise, the misunderstanding is so obvious and it fails to play its part in the story.
Chris and Jesse are hot together, let there be no doubt about that. Things progress rather quickly between them so the sex-a-plenty-0rama is up and running early. Sometimes you just know, right away, when you may have found someone that is perfect for you. Intoxicating and not to be ignored or tempered. Let ‘er rip!
The dialogue is well written in that it’s clear who is talking, what emotions should be surrounding it, and the tone is easily discerned. In enough instances, it goes on too long, too much is given away. Granted, we here in the real world can gab on ad nauseam, but when your goal is to move a story along, overly long dialogue impedes that very progress. I found myself skimming a sentence here and there, which is something I’ve never done while reading any of Blake’s books before.
Ultimately, this leads me to conclude, partially, that this is a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I say partially because the issues are a mix of objective and emotional connection. If the blurb sounds interesting to you and you’ve read her work before, I would definitely recommend giving it a try. You might find the key I was unable to find. If you’ve never read Blake’s books and make this your first, I hope you enjoy it. If you end up having an experience like mine, please try one of her other stories and see what happens. 🙂
The ending is quite emotional and well done. It involves a lot of the characters and seems fitting, even if it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It feels right, especially for the kids. I guess, even at the end, I’m still not totally convinced of Christopher and Jesse.
Bonus: my favorite characters? Joe, Christopher’s bro-in-law and Will, Jesse’s son.
Gran: she’s in a category all her own. 😀
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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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