Daniel Mulligan is in the remote town of Holiday, Michigan, one freezing February night. He has just applied for a job as an English professor at the small local college and is heading home to Philadelphia and some civilization. When a dog darts out in front of his car, Daniel is horrified that he has hit the animal, and terrified when a hulking man appears out of the woods. Daniel is pretty sure this is where the skinny city boy gets murdered by the serial killer, but Rex Vale turns out to be sweet and kind. He takes Daniel to his cabin, helps him patch up the dog, and gives Daniel a place to sleep for the night. There is even some sexual chemistry between them that Daniel would love to pursue, but Rex stops before things go too far. But the next morning, Rex has left with the dog and Daniel is headed back home, not expecting to ever see Rex again.
When Daniel returns to town having taken the job, he can’t help but think of Rex and wish he could connect with him again. When a chance encounter has them meeting once more, it is clear that they are both definitely interested in one another. Daniel has never had a relationship and barely knows what to do with Rex. Rex is not just unbelievably gorgeous and sexy, but he is kind and sweet and doting. Daniel has spent his life fending for himself, living with brothers and a father who don’t understand him at all and made it clear they have no real interest in trying. He has worked hard to succeed in his career, scrimped and saved and worked multiple jobs and has finally reached his goals. But none of that has prepared him for a guy like Rex, someone who just seems to want to care for him and be with him, someone so gentle and kind Daniel can’t help but expect things to fall apart at any time. He knows he needs to trust Rex, to allow himself to rely on someone else, but it is so hard after having to fend for himself for so long. Rex has his own baggage, with a history of shyness, fears of abandonment, and questions about his own self worth due to his lack of education.
Despite their issues, Rex and Daniel continue to fall for one another, growing close and learning to open up and depend on one another. But when Daniel gets some news that shakes up so much of his life and his understanding of his background, he isn’t quite sure how to move forward. But Rex’s steady support and love may just be enough to help Daniel get through it all and leave them happily together.
Sigh. So you know when you read a book and it just makes you happy? That is exactly what happened after reading In the Middle of Somewhere. I loved every minute of it and finished the book just so content. It is beautifully written and Parrish has a writing style that is expressive and engaging. This story feels just like Rex — warm and solid, sweet and romantic, sexy and sometimes intense. I just felt like I got wrapped up in it all and finished the story feeling so pleased and satisfied.
I particularly loved they way Parrish portrays Daniel, our POV character, and gets that perfect balance of uncertainty, sarcasm, and wit. We can see the walls he has built up, but also see behind them to his vulnerable side. On one hand Daniel is confident and competent professionally, but on the personal end he feels totally lost. He doesn’t know how to be in a relationship, thinks there are secret rules about how he should act that he is going to mess up. Daniel has to fight to let himself trust in Rex, to accept his help and his love and to not always doubt in his own worth. I also loved how Rex is practically too good to be true, but we see his vulnerabilities as well. While we understand Daniel from the beginning since we are in his POV, Rex slowly unfolds as the story develops. But seriously, I defy you not to love him from the start. He is so caring, sweet, sexy, and hunky. Rex just happily takes care of Daniel and gives him support and love and caring. Other than Daniel’s best friend Ginger, he has never had anyone in his life who really cares like that, and it is so lovely to see Daniel blossom under Rex’s affection.
I think Parrish gets the perfect mix of angst and sweetness here. Both of these guys have issues, and both have things to work through. So it is not all light and fluffy. But at the same time, this isn’t all angst-filled intensity either. There is wit and humor, especially with the side characters. I particularly loved Ginger, and how her advice helps keep Daniel on track. I appreciated how we get some complicated issues, ones that take time to work out and make total sense given the men we learn these guys to be. But at the same time, they are not wallowing in their problems. Instead, the main focus here is how these two men are finding their happiness together, working through their relationship and falling in love. Like I said, it is just a warm, solid, happy story that left me feeling so satisfied. But make no mistake, these guys are also scorchingly hot together and the sex scenes are pretty much kindle melting. It was just exactly the kind of book I wanted, and one that I know I will eagerly read again.
So I definitely recommend this one by Roan Parrish. This is the author’s debut book, and I have to say I am crazy impressed. This story is the first of a series (I’m told there will be two more books) and I am just dying for them. The bits of story we get on the future MCs are making me so excited for their books, not to mention I look forward to more chances to read this author’s writing. So a great story and one that I would highly recommend.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.