When Eric Allen loses his grandmother, Jewell, he feels like his world has ended. He sinks into a spiral, drinking much more than he should, but he is not alone. His best friend since middle school, Nathan, is there for him, and pulls Eric back by taking him to see a rundown camp on the Oregon coast. With Eric’s inheritance and a bit of Nathan’s money, they buy they place together with the vow to open it as a LGBTQ friendly retreat. What they quickly name Buchanan House needs a lot of work, and that’s where handyman Timothy Tate comes in.
Tim was the one to answer Eric’s call, and he sets about helping the men repair the camp. Eric thinks that Tim is pretty, but he doesn’t make a move. He thinks that Tim isn’t interested. But when Eric nearly drowns and Tim saves his life, things change. Both men finally give into their attraction for one another and begin a relationship. But Eric has some hang ups he’s afraid will ruin things between them. Eric and Tim were meant for each other, and if they can just get through the stressors in their life, they’ll make it.
Charley Descoteaux is a new to me author but I went into this book with high hopes and expecting a fun, nice read. I fully anticipated adoring this book from the blurb alone. I hate to say it, but this book did not live up to expectations at all. And, in fact, it missed the mark entirely for me.
I admittedly had trouble with this author’s style. There was a lot of telling going on, and not nearly enough showing. A lot of opportunities for dialogue or action were missed. Characters began an action in one sentence, only to have it be completed in the next. Like they sat down to eat and then next sentence began with them being finished with their meal, for example. It made the story fell choppy, and add to that the time jumps, and I felt like I was being given a laundry list of the characters’ actions without much description to engage me in my surroundings.
But the problems didn’t stop there. The characters felt like caricatures instead of real, relatable people. I never felt like I truly understood their motivations or thoughts or reactions. I just didn’t feel the connection. I felt removed from them. Again, it could be the writing style that kept them at arm’s length. Eric is the kind of guy that can get lost in his own head. I know that because he told us. But despite all the thinking he did on page, I still never felt like I understood exactly why he thought and felt the things he did. On top of that, it was implied for more than half the book that Eric was gay, only for him to blurt out that he wasn’t, and that he was in fact, bisexual. Honestly, this felt like it came out of left field to me. Especially because of the way that his family has treated him, as they made derogatory comments that didn’t seem to reconcile with bisexuality, only if he were gay. This may be a personal issue, and other readers might not have as big a problem with it as I did.
But that leads us to the romance portion of the story and I have to say that this is where the book really fell flat for me. We barely see Tim at all for the first quarter of the book, and then when he saves Eric’s life, they are suddenly proclaiming their mutual lust. I don’t have a problem with sudden declarations, if it’s in keeping with the story. What I do have a problem with is not even seeing a character, only having a few mentions of him, and then being told after the fact that they’ve been building a rapport that is supposed to make their sudden declarations okay. I want to know why I couldn’t have seen even a little of that, why I wasn’t privy to their budding relationship. As interesting as getting Buchanan House ready was, I’d have rather seen interactions between Eric and Tim. Maybe if I had, I would have felt some chemistry between these guys But as it was, I didn’t and that made the romance feel flat and unemotional.
Which is how I can sum up this book, really. It was flat, without much depth, and didn’t get me emotionally invested at all. That being sad, the surface plot points were cute, I liked the idea of two best friends finally realizing their dreams, and there were a couple of moments that made me smile. And I would probably try another book by this author if the story within sounded particularly interesting, but I would have to be incredibly intrigued.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize sponsored by Samhain Publishing, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-to-Me Author week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.