Thom Caldwell is used to being by himself. A grape cultivator, he has dreamed of expanding his operation for years, but never had the capital or employees to make it happen. When his old friend asks for him to hire his nephew for the summer, Thom agrees.
Ben Loomis is a recent college graduate and unsure what to do with his life. When his mother barged in to finds him in a compromising position with another man, she called a minister to pray the gay out of him. When his uncle offers him a place to stay and work, Ben jumps at the opportunity.
Thom has managed to hide his sexuality from his friends and neighbors…hasn’t he? Isn’t Chuck always trying to set him up with one of his daughters? Thom finds himself drawn to Ben, but is adamant that he isn’t going to betray his friend’s trust, nor is he going to get involved with someone who is just passing through. Until his own jealousy gets the better of him.
As the two men navigate their relationship, they are forced to deal with long-lost relatives, over-sexed contractors, exploding homebrew, and natural disasters. Can Ben prove to Thom that he is in for the long-haul? Will Thom believe in their relationship enough to ask Ben to stay?
I was thrilled when we were given the challenge of reading a “new to me” author because it would give me the chance to read something by Madeline Kirby. Kirby is a relatively new author whose first book Just That Easy has some fairly good reviews, so when I saw that she had a second book being released this summer, I jumped at the chance to give her writing a try as I am always looking for new self-published authors to add to my collection.
Though Thom is gay, he doesn’t advertise it in his home town. He thinks he is firmly in the closet, but apparently the only person in town who doesn’t know Thom is gay, is Thom! Granted, it took his friends and neighbors a while to figure it out, but after Chuck threw each of his beautiful daughters in Thom’s path to no avail, it became plainly obvious. So when Chuck’s nephew’s mother calls upon her minister to pray the gay out of her son, he decides to dangle his nephew in front of his friend and neighbor.
Thom and his grandfather had planned on expanding their operation, but when his grandfather could no longer deal with the harsh winters and moved south, Thom became complacent about just getting by. Now with someone there to help, he is able to start putting those plans together. Calling the local contractor, Thom realizes that he can’t keep his sexuality a secret from Ben for very long when the contractor decides to make a play for Ben.
Jealousy is a perfect ignition switch to start heating things up between Thom and Ben. As the two begin heating up the sheets, we find out that Thom isn’t as shy in the bedroom as he is outside of it. We also find out that Ben may be ten years younger than Thom, but he knows what he is doing!
The secondary characters help create a well-rounded story without drawing the reader’s attention on different tangents. This was a pleasant surprise as given this book was the first in what is to be a series, where many times readers are given a multitude of different side stories that never really fully materialize until the next book.
My only complaint about the book, if you could really call it a complaint, is that there really wasn’t a whole lot of angst. There was a bit, but nothing too dramatic or heart-rendering. This book just has some minor bumps along an otherwise smooth road.
Overall, I thought this was a sweet story. I am glad I had the opportunity to check out this new-to-me author. I look forward to reading more of her works. If you are looking for a sweet romance without a lot of drama to go with it, this is the book for you!
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!