Title: Mourning Jack
Author: S.A. Meade
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Length: Novel

Rating: 4

When Ade’s best friend Jack is killed while serving in Afghanistan, Ade honors a promise made to look after Jack’s lover Cal.  Cal is totally devastated by Jack’s death, barely eating and turning into a shell of himself. Ade tries to help him along, bringing him food, and providing company.  Over time, Cal begins to get back on his feet a bit, but he is still mourning Jack’s death.  However, when Ade needs a place to stay and some help of his own, Cal volunteers his home.

Soon Ade finds himself falling for Cal, and his lovely, quiet ways.  But although Cal clearly cares for Ade and enjoys his companionship, he is not over Jack.  Even month’s after Jack’s death, any small step they take forward is met with Cal’s guilt afterwards.  And even when Cal is over the guilt, it is clear to Ade that the love is one-sided.  Cal is still in love with Jack, and his feelings for Ade are never going to match that. And so with much sadness, Ade realizes he must move on with his life and find someone who can love him back.

After settling into a new job, Ade meets Eric, a local horse trainer.  Like Ade, Eric too has experienced being used for the sex and companionship by someone who doesn’t really love him.  The two hit it off and start building something together.  But then Cal comes back into Ade’s life, missing him and wanting him back and Ade realizes that he still loves Cal and these feelings aren’t going away.  As he looks toward these two men, Ade must decide what his heart really wants.

This is an interesting story because it is almost a love triangle, although Ade is never together with both men at the same time.  He experiences good things in both relationships, but goes back and forth as he tries to follow his heart and figure out what both he, and these men, really want.  I honestly wasn’t sure who Ade was going to end up with throughout most of the book, which kept things interesting and really allowed the story to develop as the relationships ebbed and flowed.  On the other hand, it made it  harder for me to emotionally connect Ade with either man, because I was never sure which direction things would go.  Each time I thought we were getting to the heart of the romance, things changed.

Despite this, I found the story quite well developed.  We really see the process of emotional growth in all three men.  Cal takes a really long time to deal with Jack’s death, and I kind of liked that.  So many stories that start with the loss of a partner see the survivor ready to jump in bed with someone else so quickly.  I really felt Cal’s loss and his his actions made total sense given where he was emotionally.  Ade too has a strong arc of growth.  He finds himself torn between his feelings of lust, and ultimately love for Cal, and his need for self-preservation.  It takes a while for him to recognize that the early relationship with Cal is just not good for him.  Yet, getting over love is not easy and colors his future relationship with Eric as well.  I did find the pacing a bit slow, but I thought everyone’s actions and emotions were so realistically portrayed.

Like Meade’s Orion Rising, which I also enjoyed, this book is filled with lots of wonderful food porn!  Ade is a chef, and we get tantalizing glimpses into the wonderful food he cooks, along with the meals the men make for one another (and boy can they all put away the wine!).  The descriptions are so fabulous and beautifully done, all I wanted to do was eat.  Meade has a wonderful gift for these food details, as well as for the lovely descriptions of the gardens and scenic landscapes.

I really liked Mourning Jack and found it a quiet, thoughtful book. I wish the story had more quickly moved into the final relationship to allow more time to really establish the connection between the men. The ending felt a little rushed to me after such a slow build.  But I found this an enjoyable story with lots of nice emotional growth and lovely, vivid descriptions.

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