Neil’s wife passed away some time ago. He continues to grieve…and pretend he’s straight. Neil has hidden his sexuality since his youth, feeling fear and shame. Recently, his sister-in-law’s husband has passed away, and she’s decided to take her children, and Neil’s daughter, away to a dude ranch where they vacationed as a family for years. She’s also invited Neil and convinces him to come along.
Cole is a wrangler at the ranch. He’s half Neil’s age, but when he meets Neil, he’s instantly attracted and flirts unmercifully. Neil is mortified because, well, he’s not gay. Right?
Right from the beginning, I knew there was something special about Do You Trust Me? I love grief/comfort stories. Make that a May/December story, and I am gobbling that up! However, along with those qualities, I got so much more. B.G. Thomas gave me a powerful and emotional horse ride through the mind and heart of a damaged man (Neil) and a confident and happy man (Cole).
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Neil. He was grieving, and my heart went out to him. However, I was having issues about how he was dealing with his sexuality. Along with claiming to be straight, he expressed blatant homophobia, going so far as to comment about the safety of the children on the trip because they were going to be around a gay man. That was difficult to read. As I continued the story, the anger melted away to heartbreak. It was still difficult because no child should have to deal with what young Neil went through. It shaped his life, but that shape is twisted and off kilter.
On the other hand, Cole is one of those characters who makes you smile from his first appearance to the very end. Eternal optimism, mixed with wisdom beyond his age, is refreshing and heartwarming. The moment he laid eyes on Neil, he just knew. Even when Neil told him he wasn’t gay, Cole continued to be sweet and supportive. He was persistent without being obnoxious, and I loved him.
All of the background characters in this book are outstanding. Neil’s sister-in-law, Amy, is amazing. She lost her husband, her great love, and she shows so much concern over Neil through her grief. She’s a wonderful mother and friend. Neil’s daughter, Crystal, is so well adjusted for a young lady who lost her mother and discovers her dad is gay. The Clarks, the older couple who run the ranch, are a delight. They’re funny and sweet and they treat all of their guests like family. None of these characters are there for filler, and they fit their roles perfectly.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I do want to tell you about Neil’s breakthrough. It was so…cathartic…for him, and for me. I felt such relief when he realized he’d been burying such an important part of himself. Also, when Neil and Cole finally come together…magic. It was romantic and sexy and made me weep with joy.
The ending tied up neatly…maybe a little too neatly, but you know what? I didn’t care. Do You Trust Me? needed to end this way. I absolutely loved it.
I highly recommend this book. It will make you run the gamut of emotions and by the time you finish, you’ll feel so happy. It’s definitely worth your time to read it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.