Author: Tara Lain
Narrator: John-Paul Barrel Barrel
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Story Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Release Date: 04/12/2016
Length: 09 hours 00 minutes
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance, New Adult
A Novel in the Long Pass Chronicles
Everyone wants the best for SCU student and tight end Raven Nez—and they know exactly what that is. Enter the NFL draft, become a big football hero, promote his tribe’s casino, and make a lot of money to help people on the reservation. Just one problem. Raven’s gay and he really wants to work with gay kids. Plus he figures a gay Native tight end will get flattened in the NFL. Then the casino board hires a talented student filmmaker to create ads for the tribal business and asks Raven to work with him.
But the filmmaker is Dennis Hascomb, a guy with so much to hide and a life so ugly it’s beyond Raven’s understanding. Still, he’s drawn to Dennis’s pain and incredible ability to survive. Captivated by Raven’s stories of the two-spirited and by the amazing joy of finally having a friend, Dennis knows he has to break free from everything he’s ever been taught was good—but that’s a struggle that could kill him and Raven too. Is there a chance for “the great red hope” and the “whitest guy on earth”? A future for the serpent and the raven?
Wow, I have said this before and I will say this again, Ms. Lain continues to surprise me. Just when I think I have a handle on her writing style she throws me another character and storyline that seems to come out of the blue and rides that line of over the top and unbelievable, yet it still works and leaves me feeling fulfilled.
Raven and Dennis came from two very different backgrounds and yet they were both struggling with the same basic issue, pleasing their parents. However, the spin on this was totally different for both men. Raven had expectations to live up to in terms of honor and upholding Native American traditions. His family pressure was in the form of guilt in order to bring wealth and notoriety to the family and tribe. Raven was expected to ignore his own desires for the sake of others. It was not easy to see him suffer but at the same time, he had so many people in his corner. There was always a ray of hope lurking beneath his misery.
On the other hand, Dennis was caught in a very horrible situation. Pleasing his parents was on a whole different level than Raven. There was no hope in sight and I honestly didn’t know how poor Dennis survived. His parents were atrocious and just really horrible people. And other than a few people who could see his pain, Dennis had no one in his corner. This was not the storyline I ever anticipated for Dennis, but it was well done and kept me on the edge of my seat needing to know how things turned out.
These men were fascinating and while their individual stories were painful to listen to at times, their romance was relatively low angst and uplifting. It was a bit hard to believe, since I truly think Dennis was not in a place for love yet, but then again, maybe he needed that love to pull him out from under his evil parents. I liked that this story took me by surprise and how well integrated all parts of the story were. The Native American culture and history, the football, the filmmaking, and Dennis’s struggles all worked together to give me a very entertaining listening experience.
I loved the Native American History that was interspersed into this story. I loved learning about the “Two-Spirited” people and the dream ritual that Raven’s grandfather performed. I always love when a book can open my eyes to different cultures and teach me things I never knew I never knew. I also like that because of the Native American influence, the gay storyline was not the main one in this book. It was just accepted as a thing and while some folks didn’t agree, it was treated as the norm. If you were looking for some big athlete-coming -out-scandal type story, this one is not for you.
Tara Lain is one of those authors I turn to when I want a good story that I know will keep me off balance yet still give me everything I crave in a good romance. I return to her stories time and again because I know I will find comfort in the way things turn out. If you are not a fan of Tara Lain, you should be. She is one of my go to comfort read authors.
John-Paul Barrel is just not my favorite because he has to narrate to right story for his style to really work well. His voice is fine but his narration just missed the mark for me this time. It was just an enthusiastic reading with few dialect changes and no emphasis on the emotion other than what was written into the story. While his narration did not distract from the story, it also did nothing to enhance it.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the audiobook of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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