hard fallRating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

When Deputy Joe Peterson first lays eyes on Kabe Varghese, he knows he is in trouble.  Kabe is all brown muscles, intensity, attitude, and a whole lot of temptation for Joe.  But he is also an ex-con living with relatives after getting out on parole.  Not to mention that as a closeted Deputy and a practicing Mormon, getting involved with the gorgeous young man is awfully dangerous.  Joe has long ago reconciled his attraction to men with his strong religious beliefs, but he still knows getting involved with someone so close to home is a mistake.

Jock weekYet when Joe is called in on a rescue mission for a fallen hiker, he needs someone else with climbing experience and brings Kabe along.  As the men spend more time together, Joe finds Kabe too difficult to resist. And though he realizes that it probably is best to end things shortly after they start, Joe’s secret is out before he can stop it.  Suddenly he is facing all kinds of trouble — danger to his job, conflicts with the church, and the cold shoulder from many of the people who used to be his friends.  It seems like things are all falling apart at once, but having Kabe in his life might just make it all worth it.

So this is another of my old favorites, a book I have read multiple times but never reviewed. And so with Jock Week here it seemed like the perfect time to reread it and share it with you guys.  There is so much to like here in this story.  First off, James Buchanan does an amazing job conveying the sense of setting and the importance of the land and the mountains to both Joe and Kabe.  For Joe, the mountains of Utah aren’t just where he lives, they are who he is.  We can feel that power and strength he gains from sitting on top of a beautiful vista and seeing nothing but sky and rock, along with how it humbles him to see his place in this big world.  Here Joe reflects as he sits with Kabe on the mountaintop:

I certainly couldn’t think of a finer place to be at that moment. Touching him like that, sharing a huge blue sky. The wind got the trees whispering and the ground squirrels romanced each other. Near perfect afternoon with just us together. And I loved the mountains, loved ‘em like my own life. Nothing in the world could compare to a huge sky miles from any hint of civilization. Reminded me of sex…the openness of it, the forgetting yourself in the moment of it, losing your soul to something bigger and touching creation for just a second. Closet romantic, me.

Buchanan captures this feeling so well, with such beautiful and vivid descriptions throughout the book.  And this love of the mountains is one of the things that bonds Joe and Kabe. They understand each other immediately from this shared experience.  It is almost a spiritual calling for both of them.  Kabe especially is an adrenaline junkie.  He was arrested for free climbing on a federal dam (climbing without ropes or safety gear), and he thrills in heart stopping and complicated climbs.  Buchanan does an amazing job here conveying the climbing experience, the ropes and the gear and the process. It is detailed enough that I could picture what was happening and understand how things worked, without being overwhelming.  And I could just feel the exhilaration of hanging in the middle of  rock face, looking out at nothing but the beautiful world around you.

Buchanan also gives us a great characters in Kabe and Joe.  Kabe is tough and spirited and a little wild. His time in prison has made him grow up, but there is still that impetuous side that doesn’t always know when to keep his mouth shut.  He just exudes sexuality and loves to push Joe’s buttons.  But he also is a good caring guy, one with fierce loyalty and commitment to Joe, and an enthusiasm for life that makes him impossible not to like.

But for me Joe is the star of this book and such a fascinating character.  He is a man who feels his faith deep inside.  He truly believes in his church and abides by all the teachings, yet at the same time has this other side of himself.  Joe has accepted that he is gay, accepted that it is part of him, and managed to reconcile that with his faith.  He is such a good person — dedicated to his job, caring about others, just so genuinely good inside you can’t help but respect him.  Even as his life is falling apart, he manages to go forward with such inner strength. It would be so easy for him to blame Kabe, for him to turn anger on the person who led him to temptation.  But Joe knows that nothing happened that he didn’t cause himself and never holds Kabe responsible for the fallout.

These guys are such a good match for one another.  Joe is solid strength, a foundation for Kabe who sometimes needs grounding from his need to fly.  And Kabe is a light for Joe, someone to help him open up  just a bit.  And they are so super hot together.  There is an intensity we feel from the very beginning. That lust just pours off Joe and when they are finally together they are super hot.  They guys explore some light bondage and punishment and find that that bit of power play makes both of them crazy.  I just love them together.

So yep, you all should go out and read this one.  Such a great story full of wonderful themes. Overcoming your past, accepting who you are, figuring out your place in the world, and finding that person who makes it all worth.  So well done and highly recommended.