Buy Link: Wild Raspberries
Author: Jane Davitt
Publisher: Torquere Press
Wild Raspberries was another of those books I picked up not knowing much about it. In my Goodreads Bingo Challenge we had the category “Best Gay Assassins and Spies” and I hadn’t really heard of any of the books on the list other than ones I had already read. So I chose this book based on its good ratings on Goodreads and the fact that I enjoyed Davitt’s Truthful Change, but came into it without much background.
The story opens with Dan Seaton stumbling through the woods, exhausted and starving. He is lost and about to collapse when he sees some raspberry bushes and falls on them eagerly. He is finally feeling some relief when suddenly he hears the sound of a gun cocking and realizes he is not alone.
Tyler Edwards lives by himself in a remote cabin in the woods. His first instinct upon finding Dan is to send him on his way, but when the man collapses from exhaustion, Tyler brings him home instead. Although Tyler plans to feed Dan and send him off, he never quite manages to ask Dan to leave. A sprained ankle gives Tyler an excuse to keep Dan around longer, but we sense that a part of him wants to look after Dan and is becoming increasingly fond of him despite knowing there can be no future between them.
Both Dan and Tyler are working through issues. Dan has run away from his family farm after conflict with his father over being gay. He is relatively young at twenty and doesn’t really have a clear plan or an idea of where to go when he leaves. His time on the road has left him with emotional scars from a series of truck drivers who took advantage of him in exchange for a ride. He is a good guy and a hard worker and refuses to accept the food and shelter without working in exchange. But he is also young and emotional and occasionally flees rather than working through problems.
Tyler has a darker history that is revealed a bit at a time. He is haunted by his past and has hidden away for the past couple of years in his cabin. Tyler is a hard man in many ways, but the gruff exterior is more self-preservation than meanness. Even while grumbling, he is kind and caring to Dan, even when Dan’s youth sometimes makes him prickly and difficult. And although he doesn’t want to admit it, Tyler is lonely and is enjoying having someone in his life.
The story is interesting because it is almost all Dan and Tyler alone. There is only one other real character in the book and she has limited screen time. Primarily the book follows the main characters as they meet, get to know each other, begin to feel drawn toward one another, and eventually fall in love, almost all in the confines of the cabin.
Some positives for me. I love a story with an age difference and I think it was explored well here. The difference is apparent but not squicky. We can see Dan’s youth and Tyler’s experience clearly and how their pasts have shaped them very distinctly. I liked both the main characters and enjoyed them together, finding them sweet and kind of romantic underneath the bristling.
On the downside, I found it a little slow (although I did read it very quickly so definitely not sluggish). I expected Dan’s poor health at the start of the story to have more of an impact, but he recovers so fast it is not really an issue. The set up just seemed ripe for some action, or at least some more tension based on Tyler’s background and that never really materialized. Even at the end when we get a clear indication of some danger, things settle down very quickly.
I really enjoyed the book, even though I did feel like it could have gone a bit further. I liked the guys a lot and enjoyed watching Tyler especially grow into the relationship. I actually found out after I finished that there is a sequel, Wintergreen, that seems more action driven that I think I will pick up. I’d love to see these two guys again because I really liked them together and thought their story was quite sweet.
ETA: Ok, I made it all of SIX hours before I went out and bought the sequel! LOL! I am such a sequel whore and it tempted me too much to resist. I’ll be reviewing it later today.