Rating: 3 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
First off, we need to be clear. The Ellery Mountain series is all about insta-love and second chances. If you are looking for deep plots or realistic, slow evolving love stories you are barking up the proverbial wrong tree. And you know what? I am okay with that. If I am going to indulge in fantasy, in love that may never really happen in real life, then I most definitely want it written by R.J. Scott because she is aces at this type of story! Having said that, The Carpenter and the Actor, book three in the series, is not her strongest offering thus far. However, one thing it does offer is perhaps the sweetest and quirkiest of characters to date, Kieran Dexter.
Kieran is a carpenter and handyman. While his first love is crafting his own furniture, he is also helping his friend Daniel refurbish the luxury cabins Daniel and his mom own. It is on such a job that Kieran meets Jason McInnery, the Hollywood actor who has come to Ellery to hide and recover from a devastating death in the family. The two men meet and sparks fly. But Kieran tends to let his mouth operate before his brain filters anything and, as a result, he tends to blurt out exactly how he feels.
So, when Jason suggests a no-strings attached affair for the few weeks he is in Ellery, Kieran tosses any hesitancy aside and dives in with his heart wide open. By the end of Jason’s stay it is apparent that Kieran has fallen in love with him, but the question remains, does Jason return that affection and what about a long distance relationship that is literally bi-coastal to boot?
The sex is hot, the relationship moves at a break-neck speed, and the solutions to every problem seem to either materialize instantly or be so over the top you know they could never happen that way in real life, and yet these little novellas are like pieces of the most addictive candy, good and sweet each time. Jason, despite being tortured by the fact that he inadvertently enabled the car accident that took his brother’s life, is a thirty-something out and proud actor who is not looking for love, but desperately needs it. Kieran, on the other hand, is a feisty little man who enjoys switching up the role of the dominant partner in the bedroom and always truthfully speaks his mind. He is a breath of fresh air—a character that is honest AND intelligent, unwilling to compromise, yet happy to step into an affair he knows has no future.
So what didn’t work in this latest installment? Well, there was some real editing issues that threw me around a bit and left me confused. First, I was uncertain if Jason was staying or a month, two weeks, or three weeks, as all these time periods were mentioned in the story. Since both men kept referring to their time together as too short, you can see how an accurate and single time frame would be needed in the storyline.
Secondly, there was mention that Jason’s brother Ben was addicted to painkillers and that no one knew anything about it. Mentioned, then dropped, and yet the idea that Jason had provided the very car his brother was killed in was brought up over and over again. How could the blame for his brother’s death weigh on him so heavily if Jason knew nothing about the addiction? It wasn’t as if he put the pills in Ben’s hands, himself. I could understand the sadness over his brother’s death, but the overwhelming guilt that was later released so easily? That was just a bit too neat and too maudlin for the story to really support.
Finally the solution to the long distance problem was really made nonexistent. Both Kieran and Jason grapple with the idea that they live an entire country length apart, that they will rarely get to see one another. Yet, when Jason hits on a less than ideal solution, both jump at it and seem to have no problems dealing with the incredible expanses of time they are apart. I felt the ending to this story was rushed and the book needed a little more page space for the resolution to their problem in order to make it just a bit more believable.
So, while The Carpenter and the Actor may not have been the best-crafted novella in this series, it certainly had its finer moments and introduced two very likeable characters that stayed with me well after the story was finished. I will be moving on to review the rest of the series over the next few weeks leading up to the latest release and I look forward to seeing Scott get back on track with this sweet little series.