Travis Bennett is still grieving over the loss of his wife four years ago, and trying to raise his three children with the help of his sister. When his beloved corgi, Dunkyn, gets sick, he rushes him to the clinic, certain that the dog is deathly ill. There he meets the new vet, Wesley Ryan. Travis’ anger, fear, and pain make him an ass to Wesley, but Wesley can see that it is more than just fear for his dog’s life that is making Travis act that way. With Dunkyn on the mend, Travis tries to make amends for his attitude. But it’s not easy, and he doesn’t want to forget his wife.
Wesley Ryan came to the small town of El Dorado to find himself again. After a bad breakup and a resulting downward spiral, he’s finally ready to get his life back on track. He has plans to work on himself, living in the house his grandparents left him, and not getting entangled with any drama. But there’s no denying that he’s attracted to Travis, despite that they got off on the wrong foot. When Travis’s sister, Wendy, invites Wesley to dinner, he accepts. An after dinner tour of the property leads to a few minutes alone in the barn for Travis and Wesley. They have a heartfelt conversation that ends in a kiss.
Travis is still working out exactly how to move on. He loved his wife immensely and still does. And though he’s known he’s attracted to men as well as women, he hasn’t done anything about it or barely acknowledged it since college. But he made promises to his wife before she died, and with Wesley, it might just be time to act on it. Not that living out in a small Missouri town is easy. Not everyone takes the news well and small minds make things difficult for the men and for Travis’ children. Conflicts, from the outside and from inside, make Travis and Wesley constantly question whether being together is the right thing. The cons seem to outweigh the pros. They love each other, but it might not be enough.
I came away from this book with mixed feelings. There were some parts I absolutely loved, and other’s the left me feeling unsatisfied. What I can say with absolute certainty is that Brandon Witt is a master at prose. The picture he painted with his words was superb. The emotions felt raw and real, the backdrop of the scenery was lovingly described, and the story was peppered with nuances that gave it real depth.
This is not the most traditional love story. We don’t see enough of Wesley and Travis together for it to be classified as such. What we get here are two broken men, each in their own way, and we get to watch as they grow and learn and change. Both Travis and Wesley have their own issues and baggage that they need to deal with, and though it’s slow going, they do deal with it. I would have liked to have spent a little more time with these men as a couple though. We saw them a lot of the time working out their own thoughts, and this was really great to show their growth, but I didn’t feel as connected to them as a couple as I perhaps could have.
The secondary characters in this book were wonderfully colorful and fleshed out. They really added some great depth to the story. I loved watching these two guys interact with all the different people in town, as well as Travis’s sister Wendy and his three children. But there were also some moments that I felt they took away from the story. Mostly, we are either in Travis’s or Wesley’s head. There are scenes, however, that we get different POVs from the secondary characters. This didn’t work as well for me, as it pulled me out of the story. It took away something for me from the plot as a whole to suddenly be thrust into another character’s head.
I have to give a warning here that there is some derogatory language in this book, and though I felt that it was appropriate within the bounds of the story, it’s something you should be aware of if it’s a trigger or something that makes you uncomfortable. There is one particular character who is downright evil, in my opinion, and his actions and words are despicable. It was hard, at times, for me to read scenes with him in it. But again, I felt that this was all in context with the plot.
So even though there were some parts of this book that didn’t work for me, overall, I loved getting to know Travis and Wesley, and watching them grow and strive for the happiness they deserved.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.