Author: Sarah Masters
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/18/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
You can run but you can’t hide. Problems have a habit of following you, even if it’s only inside your head.
Ross decides to start a new life away from the grim belly of London, England, unable to stomach being a cop any longer. He tells himself he’s moving miles away to find himself a bed partner, but he’s lying. He has to. Facing up to the real reason he’s leaving isn’t something he can handle. His last undercover job proved too much—his life was at risk—and if he stays in London he’ll likely end up dead. Nightmares plague him, his subconscious unable to switch the past off. So he moves to a ranch in America, thinking the new surroundings and different lifestyle will help him to heal—and to forget. What he soon realizes is he’s jumping from the frying pan into the fire…
Joe’s passion—that of caring for the horses—is the only thing that keeps him sane. He’s a surly man, and for good reason—a reason he hasn’t told a soul. Folks think he’s mean and unapproachable and suspect him of committing murder. More than once. Locals assume that Joe got let off the hook. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Joe lets people think what they will. He’s done with their speculation and sly looks.
When Ross and Joe meet, tension is rife. The air between them prickles with animosity as well as sexual tension. Both have a past they can’t get over. Both have skeletons in their closets they wish would turn to dust. And both have to make a decision. Can they cast their fears aside and trust each other, or have the terrors they’ve experienced ruined them for love?
Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene of remembered non-consensual sex in a character’s past.
I have given this a 2.5 because while this story was technically well written, it was weird for me and felt unfinished. There was a lot of potential for this to be great and what is on the page kept me glued to my seat until the end, but the end left me feeling let down and confused.
This story was weird. This was like one big soap opera that just kept getting more and more out of hand and mysterious. There were times that the mystery was a good thing and kept me wanting more. But there were other times that the mystery was over the top and left me hanging. I had so many questions about the supporting characters and their behaviors. This “family secret” they all hinted at but never divulged. I needed to know why they would willingly live in fear of one brother why actively hurting another brother. And why would a battered wife remain living in the same house as her ex and defend his abusive ways to his brother who has only ever tried to treat her well? Why did the sheriff not investigate his own father’s death? There were just so many questions that the author never answered. I kept reading because the author kept hinting at the reason for all the secrecy and I just knew something would happen to shed light on the situation, but in the end, nothing. My questions were never answered.
Also, the ranch was a creepy place. It was almost as if the ranch and the people living there and in the town around it were plucked from modern society and left to move forward at a slower pace. It was very much backwater small town with ideals and behaviors of times long past. Old world mob mentalities, women who believe you should only have sex if you love your partner, abuse being covered up so that no one around you knew your family’s crazy, a corrupt Sheriff who used his office to rule the town. It was like the whole story was meant to be set in the early 1900s but at the last minute, the author decided to make it contemporary and things just did not translate over. Now don’t get me wrong, the author did a great job portraying the ranch and its homophobic, bigoted, backwater ways. The descriptions were vivid and the people were perfect for the setting. I really did feel the tension and the underlying hatred. But I never understood the origin of it all or the need for things to have perpetuated as they did. I felt left out, as if I missed some vital information or history that would have unlocked everything.
I also did not understand the romance. Joe and Ross were both broken characters and formed a dependent relationship. They “needed” each other to break the cycle and I get that many times dependency can be substituted for love, but I as a reader never felt the attachment or attraction between the men. The author had them spouting words of love and staying together 25 years into the future, but for me it felt like a horrible co-dependent relationship based off lies and deception. Nether man was ever truly honest with the other about their past, at least not on page. And neither man ever truly healed or loved himself, so how could they love the other? I guess this was another case of me feeling like something was missing.
Finally, I did not understand the purpose of Ross’s backstory. Yes, it was mysterious and horrible. Yes, I really wanted to find out what happened to him because the author only gave me bits and pieces at a time. But what was the point? It gave me a glimpse of some of Ross’s past experiences, but I never understood the connection with the story. I get that it was the reason Ross moved to America, but honestly, the story would have held the same meaning for me and ended up the same even without his internal struggles. Because the storyline focused on Joe’s odd family and Ross’s history really had no bearing on the way the story unfolded. It felt out of place and to be honest, the way Ross “handled” his memories was a bit too much for me. To have “finished” counselling but still have nightmares that just “poof” went away after he thought about them one or two times. I don’t know, again, I felt like I missed something.
I have to say I wanted to like this story so much. And I feel like I could have gotten past my dislike of the odd setting and weird family issues if the story would have been complete and cohesive. But I felt lost the entire time I read this one and the ending did not clear away that confusion. This one was not for me and I can’t recommend it to anyone.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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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