Guest Review by Melanie
Title: Frog
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 4.75 stars

At 44, Weber Yates realizes that his age, talent, and physical condition makes his dream of becoming a rodeo champion a remote possibility at best. When a job on a ranch becomes available, Web figures he ought to grab the only job he is fit for. But first he must make a phone call to the man he loves, Cyrus Benning, a neurosurgeon in San Francisco. Weber met the handsome surgeon while Cyrus was on vacation at a dude ranch where Weber was a seasonal employee. Sparks flew and a one-time hookup turned into three years of phone calls, meetings between rodeos, short hookups, and arguments over pride and a future together. Weber has always felt like the frog in their fairy tale relationship, but Cyrus has always seen the prince that is Weber under the rough cowboy image he projects.

Shivering in a phone booth outside of San Francisco, Weber reaches out one last time to Cyrus before beginning his life on a ranch up north. They had parted after another argument over their future together, something Weber has always regretted. Can both men find their way back to each other through obstacles built of pride and mismatched backgrounds? And will Cyrus finally convince Weber that they belong to each other and accept his place as prince of his heart?

Mary Calmes strengths as a writer are front and center in this heartwarming story of love, acceptance, and family. I really love the fact that this is a story of two men in their forties, finding love later in life. Weber Yates has some of the same qualities Calmes has given other main characters. He is charismatic, someone who by personality alone brings people closer and resolves conflict. He is beloved by children and animals, without feeling at ease in upper class social situations. Weber is also a man who has seen his dreams die a hard, dusty death in the rodeo arena and realizes the pursuit of that dream has left him penniless, physically broken, and alone. Insecure and aware that he lacks education, Weber feels that pride is all he has left. Tall, skinny, with red hair and bruised ribs, he is hardly the golden boy of some of Calmes other novels. Those physical attributes fall to Cyrus Benning, the neurosurgeon who chanced upon his soulmate during a vacation in Texas. Cyrus is also a character with his own insecurities and needs, the “golden boy” image hiding his frustration over his inability to profess his love and need for the itinerant cowboy passing in and out of his life and heart. Two complex men who are given one last chance to make their relationship work amid a family crisis and a job offer waiting for Weber in Alaska.

With Weber and Cyrus as the heart, Calmes pulls more wonderful characters into the story. Enter Carolyn Easton, Cyrus’ sister and her three young boys, Tristan, Pip, and Micah – the family in crisis. Carolyn’s husband walked out on the family and took the nanny with him. She needs her brother and the stability he offers just when Cyrus wants only to concentrate on Weber. The dialog and action between the boys has the real flavor of someone who is familiar with adolescent boys and their behavior. The way in which Weber relates to them seems so very authentic, as did their reaction to him. Carolyn is a wonderful portrait of a woman whose world has fallen to pieces and is too stressed out to find a way to put it back together by herself. Bit by bit, Weber is pulled into a family who needs him and is strengthened by it. All of the author’s gift at characterizations are evident in the people she has created for Frog. Each and every one memorable in their own right. To borrow an overused phrase, I “heart” them all.

I loved this heartwarming tale. Perfect? No, there are a few places that some will say stretch the boundaries of belief, especially when it comes to Micah, a child whose voice was frozen by past trauma. Did I mind it? No. This book left me smiling and feeling great. So perhaps we can leave it with an almost perfect. How about practically perfect in every way! And we all know who said that don’t we? And I am never one to argue with her.

Cover: Reese Dante usually has these lush covers yet this is simplicity itself. I thought the handclasp was nice but how does a cowboy and neurosurgeon figure into that? It gives you no idea of the story within nor does it relate to the title. It could be just two guys at the beach? See? Call me Confused.