An exciting job offer finds zoologist, Eric, relocating from London to a wildlife reserve in South Africa. Working with a herd of elephants in their natural habitat has been his dream. This dream also brings him closer to Tyaan, the gorgeous bush pilot that delivers his supplies. Living in a remote area, Tyaan is one of Eric’s only contacts to the larger world and when the pilot is around, South Africa gets a whole lot hotter.
Tyaan loves the freedom of the open skies. His days in the skies are what keeps him from moving to the city. In the city, he could live more openly without the constant fear and threat of prejudice and hatred. So he makes the best of it and ventures into the city for hook-ups with men whenever he can find the time. He knows he can never have a relationship in his hometown and there has never even been anyone he wanted to take that risk for anyway. That all changes the day he meets Eric. A tentative and hesitant friendship grows, that’s all Tyaan will allow, until one night when he can’t resist Eric anymore. Just when Tyaan thinks he can maybe, just maybe, have a relationship, hatred finds him once again with traumatic consequences. Refusing to put Eric in danger, the only thing he can do is to pull away, whether Eric wants him to or not.
South Africa and wild animals completely sold me on the idea of this book. The idea, however, was better than the reality. It started off a little shaky for me as Eric relocated to another country. The company that has hired him remains somewhat of a mystery to him and he doesn’t even know the owner’s first name. He also doesn’t appear to be the most qualified candidate and his hiring was all very suspect, even to Eric himself, and there is no further discovery on this subject. He is immediately attracted to Tyaan and things seem to be looking up for Eric all around.
While Tyaan is also attracted to Eric, his POV is slower to get to. Tyann feels he has no choice but to live primarily in the closet and with good reason. Those closest to him know he is gay, but there is no tolerance with the locals, and he has seen firsthand his share of violent hate crimes growing up and the memories linger and haunt him. But I just was not feeling the tension that should have been there between Eric and Tyaan and some of the wording of their inner dialogues sounded carefully selected as a written word, but lacked a natural flow of thoughts.
The primary issue with this book is that it is so very slow. When Eric arrives at the reserve, his days are spent getting himself caught up with the elephants and the paperwork. He could have been anywhere. Although there are elephants, the backdrop of a South African game reserve is not used to its fullest potential. The one bright spot that Eric looks forward to is the weekly supply drop from Tyaan. The first third of the book he waits for these brief weekly meetings. During this time, we do get some insight into Tyaan and we do see how growing up where hate crimes were common has affected him. The guys do get together and then just as soon as they are together, tragedy strikes, and what Tyaan has feared comes to pass. It is certainly unclear if the author thought that the catalyst to the tragedy that transpired was supposed to be suspenseful. It was very clear exactly what was happening and in some areas it was clear what was going to happen. Then we have Eric who is supposed to be an elephant behavioral specialist and I seemed to be able to read what the elephants were trying to tell him better than he could. And, for a researcher and scientist, his observational skills were seriously lacking. And then, Tyaan pushes Eric away out of fear. Eric, and us as readers, are then just waiting again for Tyaan to come around. To pass the time, we get some insight into Tyaan’s best friend and roommate Jessie to show how Tyaan’s choices have affected those closest to him and for a brief period we are in Jessie’s POV. We also get some brief insight into the men that run the company Eric works for. Several issues are brought up regarding the relationship between those two men, but nothing ever comes of it and I was left wondering why there was time taken for it to be discussed in the first place. The story then strolls along and winds around, finally showing Tyaan taking a stand on his life. We are then left with a public service announcement type finale. There could be an audience for this book, however, it did fall flat with this reader.