Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars
Narrator: Robert Neiman
Length: 2 hours, 29 minutes
Eli had the choice to stay home with his father and brothers or go to New York with his mother for the summer. When he left with his mother, Eli never thought it would the last time he saw his family. Now, thirteen years later, he is living as Jake and has a new life, one that includes his lover Craig. When Jake decides it may be time to reconnect with his family, he leaves Craig behind. But seeing his family again opens up old wounds and memories never forgotten. Jake needs his family, but he also needs Craig because Craig is already in his heart.
As a whole and from a bird’s eye view this is an enjoyable and easy book. The characters were the stand out here and made the story. This is the type of book that you have to give into the over the top melodramatic style and choose to simply go with it. I was able to do that for the most part and enjoy the ride, but as I thought about it further there were areas that were unfinished and areas that didn’t have enough detail for support.
We meet Jake and he has just left Chicago for California. He also leaves behind Craig, who at first comes off as just a guy, but perhaps for Jake, he is the guy. Jake wears his emotions on his sleeve, although he doesn’t really see that and thinks he has to continually pay for the situation he found himself in with his mother. Jake has a lot of pain with secrets yet to tell and his plan is to reconnect with his family who welcome him back with full support.
The relationship between Craig and Jake is played out slowly and their love is real, sweet, a little dirty, and forever. Craig just wants to take care of Jake, every day in every way and, although Jake feels broken, he comes to realizes what he has. These guys were simply great together and there’s hurt and healing and comfort.
The larger part of the story of why Jake had been gone for so many years wasn’t detailed enough for me. It revolves around Jake’s mother when he was a teen and I had many unanswered questions and then when it all comes out to his family, there were more unexplored questions as many points were jumped over to get to the conclusion. But Calmes does have a certain style and flair that made this story engaging overall.
The audio version of this book and specifically the delivery did affect some areas of the story. Neiman has a smooth tone to his voice and he handles Jake well. He had a sensitive touch for Jake and allowed the vulnerable quality of his voice to come through. The issue was that there was almost no difference from one character to the next and they all sounded the same for the most part. This became particularly difficult to follow when Jake was having an important conversation with Craig and it was not easy to determine which character was speaking. He also spoke too quickly at times as if he was doing a rehearsal run through of his lines, which made the conversational timing off in places. This was saved since it was a shorter audio and I could recommend it for a quick listen with a wounded character and the man that loves him.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.