For a first novel this was actually quite fantastic. The characters were rich and there are no gaps in the story or major plot holes to fall into. In fact there’s a lot of emotional impact in the deterioration and rebuilding of their relationship. There is definitely a high level of angst with this story, but it only serves to delineate the depth of love these two men feel for each other.
Title: Back to You
Author: Leighton Rose
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
When two stubborn boys fall in love there are bound to be fights, but when those fights become the norm and there are more bad times than good, is love enough of a reason to stay?
Alex Parker thinks the best way to save himself and his boyfriend, Tyler Matthews, from any more pain is to leave him and his hometown behind. He finally settles down in Texas and as they both try to move on, it seems like a lost cause.
A tragic turn of events causes Alex to drop everything and head back to Nebraska where he winds up face-to-face with Tyler for the first time since he left two years ago. The spark of attraction is still there, but will these two now grown men be able to overcome the years of guilt, hurt, and broken trust without breaking the bonds of friendship they’ve formed during their time apart in order to get their second chance at love? Only time will tell if their hearts can find their way back to each other.
Alex Parker and Tyler Matthews have been dating for years. They’re deeply in love, but in doesn’t seem to be enough. They spend as much time fighting bitterly as they do being happy together. In fact as deep as their love is that’s how bitterly intense their battles are. Alex can’t take it anymore; he knows that if they continue down this path it’s only going to get worse and the resulting blow up could destroy any good thoughts/memories they might have for each other. He loves Tyler desperately, but he’s determined to leave for both their sake. It takes everything in him to walk out that door and he knows that cutting all ties is the only way he can make it stick. Getting in his car and driving is the only thing he can think to do.
As a reader, I have to say the prologue of this book was pretty freakin’ fantastic. It’s hard to write something that grabs a reader’s attention and can establish an emotional reaction before we’ve had time to really get to know the characters and develop any sort of bond with them. The love these two felt for each other poured from those initial pages. I connected with both boys pretty much instantly. And if you accept the premise this prologue puts forth then the rest of the story falls into place quite nicely.
My only real issue is I struggle to just blindly accept the premise. I still really loved the story, but I kept waiting to get some real indication of just what these two fought about that was so earth shatteringly bad that the only option was to leave. Now, I do give some leeway here because 21-year-old boys aren’t exactly known for the most rational of decision-making. Their youth does make this much more believable. I just wanted more detail. These two spend two years without any contact, not speaking to each other even once, yet both spend the entire time yearning for the other. There had to have been some pretty horrendous fights to decide that love wasn’t enough. Granted Tyler never had that reaction, but Alex did. If you love someone that desperately, you don’t walk away without a really good reason. I wanted more details than just that they fought. To me this was the only real downside of this story, because we walk in at the end of their first try together as the reader you must just accept that whatever it was was awful enough to justify Alex leaving or you’ll never be able to accept Alex back in Tyler’s life.
Ok, so minor glitch aside, if you accept that Alex had a reason for leaving then the rest of the story is very smooth. I actually really enjoyed the POV switching with this story as they were all very clearly delineated and I never was confused as to whose head I was in at any given time. I really felt like Ms. Rose did a wonderful job with her secondary characters as well, making Riley and Donnie heartbreakingly wonderful. I felt bad cheering for Alex and Tyler knowing that Riley and Donnie had done nothing wrong other than offer their hearts to people whose hearts weren’t really available, no matter how much they might wish them to be.
Normally I hate love triangles, and characters being with someone other than their destined HEA, but all of the characters here were so rich I just knew that some angst was going to be necessary, but in the end it would work itself out in a way that I could be satisfied. (Though clearly if I don’t get a Riley and Donnie story quickly I’m going to be tearing my hair out, going “Why, oh you terrible world why?”) Alex may be a little immature in his decision-making, but he has a good heart. I really felt like he was trying to do what he thought was best even he was making decisions for other people without really hearing what they needed or wanted. Poor Tyler was such a devoted sweetheart and while I actually really loved Riley every time they were together I just couldn’t help but have an internal “noooooooooo” going on.
You know, I thought I would hate the funeral device here as a way to bring these two back together. Too much angst in one fell swoop, but in the end I think it was really the only thing that could have made everyone involved put aside their personal feelings to come out the other side willing to work to be friends. Grammie Bea inspired such strong feelings in both Alex and Tyler it was exactly the impetus Alex needed to come home. It put Tyler in a mental headspace to need the support of the man he loves and to allow that to overcome the anger he was holding much more quickly than a think any other situation would allow for. It also held Donnie and Riley’s anger and upset in check to a degree. To be as awesome as they were they needed something that wouldn’t allow them to abandon their respective guys outright. Both showed true caring and more maturity than either Tyler or Alex really ever maintained. (Can you tell who my favorite characters were? ;))
Ultimately I really enjoyed this book a lot. The writing style was lovely and created a wonderful reading experience. The story was touching and while it would have drawn me in even more to have more details of Alex and Tyler’s past together, the love these two shared for each other was never in question. It radiated from the page. All in all a fantastic first book by Ms. Rose, I will be back for more. 4.5 stars overall, definitely recommended if you’re in the mood for a lot of deep emotions and more than a little angst.
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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