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Eric Allen is a thirty-three year old line cook whose world crumbles after the death of his beloved grandmother, who took him in after his disastrous coming out to his family. The story begins with his grandmother’s funeral and Eric’s subsequent spiral into grief with some heavy drinking thrown in as well.
When Nathan, Eric’s best friend since childhood, suggests a trip and takes Eric to a former camp on the Oregon coast it seems like it could be a shot at a new beginning and a place where they could both realize their dreams.
Eric and Nathan pool Eric’s inheritance and some of Nathan’s money and buy the old camp dreaming of re-opening it as a LGBTQ friendly retreat. They rechristen it Buchanan House, named after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” President with a close male friend.
They quickly come to realize that the place, after sitting dormant for a decade, requires more work than they, or their friends, can provide. Eric and Nathan hire local handyman, Tim Tate, to come in and handle the repairs. Though Eric initially finds Tim very attractive, there is no hint of mutual attraction between the two until Eric nearly drowns and Tim saves his life. After Tim’s heroic action, their mutual attraction is made known, and the two begin a relationship.
I’ve only tried one other Charley Descoteaux novel, but I’m beginning to think this author’s writing style is not a good fit for my reading preferences. The blurb drew me in with the anticipation of a hurt/comfort romance. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
While I liked the characters, I didn’t feel like I really got to know them. Ultimately my disappointment stems from the story having a lot of “telling” without a lot of “showing”.
My dissatisfaction in the story may also be because I found the audio a struggle to listen to. Not because of narrator, Alexander Johns’ performance per se, but mainly because I found the sound quality of the audio to be substandard. To me, it sounded like the audio was recorded in a large room without furniture. It made it sound cavernous and left me feeling disconnected from the story.
I also keep going back and forth as to whether or not I liked Johns’ style of narration. I liked his use of character voices, but some were indistinguishable from others. I liked his performance for the most part, but there were times when his performance felt a little flat. Though it was a little shaky, for me, in the beginning, I did feel like the narration quality got better as the audio progressed, which kept me listening, and if it weren’t for the sound quality I can say I would have enjoyed the performance more.
The bottom line is I found it a struggle to get through the story because I never really connected to the characters and didn’t care for the sound quality of the audio.
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Eric inherits a house on the Oregon coast from his grandmother. He has to fight his homophobic family for the right to keep it, but he’s determined to fulfill a lifetime dream of running an all accepting resort for anyone in the LGBTQ community – a place where people can really be themselves without any fear.
Eric has a lot of “issues” ranging from latent homophobia, self-esteem issues, some sexual issues regarding penetrative sex and is an emotional guy who feels deeply. His last ex worked him over and he is still pushing through the depression using alcohol as a crutch.
Nathan is Eric’s best friend and now business partner. He helps Eric through a lot of his crises.
Later we meet Tim, a local handyman who helps with the renovations of the hotel. They manage a fast paced relationship that goes from slow burn to marriage in less than half of the book.
There are a ton of really interesting people and a great infrastructure of a story hiding in this book. Charley Descoteaux is very adept at descriptions and creating multi-faceted characters. I – in particular- enjoyed all the “Oregonian” stuff and thought the setting was lovely. Lincoln City is a unique place in that Portland is a very liberal city and only 1.5 hours away, but at it’s heart Lincoln City is cow country next to the ocean. It’s a great juxtaposition.
I was listening to this instead of reading it and though the author did a nice job with pacing – there were no real great differences in the voices and there were SO MANY characters that at times it was hard to follow who was who and what was going on. As an inherently visual person, this was a bit difficult for me to keep the story moving forward smoothly in my mind.
Though I loved the setting and the characters, the main story line felt a bit … neglected. Like all the resources went toward the setting and not enough for the filling. I wanted more time with the couple and less time with Nathan – though that was an important part of Eric’s healing, I didn’t feel a great connection with him and Tim – possibly due to lack of on page time spent with one another.
As a result – I was never as invested in this story and my mind would wander and I’d have to either just try to understand what was going on or “rewind” and listen again.
I would definitely look at another book by this author and narrator but this wasn’t my favorite.
I think if you’re interested in more “gay fiction” than “gay romance” this might really appeal to you as it has many interesting elements of Eric’s movements towards self-acceptance and a bit of love thrown in to complete his happy picture.