When Jones was five, his mother took at a job at Ember Peak, making the ranch the only home that Jones has ever known. From an early age, Jones was enamored with Truitt Larkin, the teen whose family owned the ranch. Now, Truitt is the CEO of the Larkin Corp and his busy billionaire lifestyle keeps him on the move.
During a break from college, Jones seeks out Tru and, after being turned down time and again by the man, Truitt gives in. The men spend six intense, heat-filled days together, but it is clear from the beginning that it was always going to end. Jones didn’t want to leave and he didn’t want to give up, but Tru makes it perfectly clear that any physical relationship between them is over.
Three years later and the men reunite at the ranch for a family wedding. While their once easy friendship is strained, the attraction flares hot the moment they see each other again. Tru wants to reignite their friendship, but the passion between the men sparks brightest of all and Tru may have to realize that his future really is with Jones.
Every once in a while you get lucky with a special book that shines brighter than the rest. Tru Smoke was the first book I have read by Edie Danford and her style and the imagery of her words comes together exactly the way I like to read. Danford offers a character-driven novel with two well developed characters in Tru and Jones.
Tru and Jones complement each other amazingly well. Jones has known Tru since he was a small boy and had been waiting and then waiting some more until he felt Tru would be receptive to any kind of relationship with him. This is where the book opens as the men are spending six days together where they barely leave Tru’s hotel suite. I liked the technique Danford used of bringing us seemingly into the middle of the story, but then offering the history of the men woven throughout the narrative. Jones knows their short time together will never be enough and muses:
How could I possibly think I’d ever settle for six days of him? Six days didn’t even equal a half second when it came to forever. And I was gonna keep Truitt Larkin until the stars fell from the sky.
The book is filled with entertaining banter, descriptive prose, endless chemistry, and scorching hot scenes. These guys know each other so well and they are so in sync in body and mind and they light up the air around them. Their attraction crackles and affects every movement they make around each other. Tru feels it when he tells Jones, “You’re like sparks and I’m like dry tinder.”
After those six days the book then jumps three years ahead and Jones has not been back to the ranch, the only place he calls home. He has graduated from college and the only thing he does know is that he really just wants to go home to Ember Peak and that he will never stop wanting Tru. Tru, for his part, is busy. He owns the ranch and heads the family corporation. Jones has always had an impact on him, but he wants Jones to be with people his own age (the men are 14 years apart) and go out into the world, but he has not once truly asked Jones what he wants.
And that’s the conflict: Tru won’t commit and he provides Jones with a continuous stream of push and pull and for as much time as the men spend together, there is a constant underlying current of conflict. The men spend the summer together, but again Tru has laid out the rules that it will end, yet, he desperately wants Jones to be only his. Tru is also stuck. For as much as he travels all over the world, the ranch and his office remain exactly the way his father left it. He feels that it’s not fair to expect Jones to live a somewhat isolated life on the ranch, yet that is exactly what Jones wants. This area with Tru was also the one area that got a little bumpy for me in the execution. We have Tru’s POV and we know some of his thoughts, but even with this, the extent to which Tru wouldn’t commit to Jones lacked some clarity.
The story takes place primarily along the landscape of the ranch and it was refreshing to see not a hint of homophobia in sight. It was just the story of two men who were always meant to be. The transition to the last chapter was also a bit bumpy, which then made the ending not as dramatic. But, that last chapter itself was all kinds of entertaining and just what I needed to pull the story together as Jones’ personality shone through on every page.
At the end of this book my thought was that I wanted to look for another book just like it and then I was made aware that the sequel will be out next month. Definitely a recommended read for a story of two characters that were ruggedly male, yet tender and raw in private with gorgeous prose surrounding them while searching for their own brand of a happy ending.
“Happiness was a real thing. I woke up holding it in my arms.”