Jimmy Brink has returned to his hometown and his parents’ ranch now that they are getting ready to retire. He is going to finish his medical residency nearby and take over running the ranch for them. Jimmy has brought along his boyfriend Oliver, who will be a professor at a school not too far away.
Jimmy is eager to see his best friend Eric Halter. The two grew up together and were incredibly close, but Eric doesn’t seem happy to see him, nor does he particularly like Oliver. When Jimmy confronts him, Eric admits that he is hurt that Jimmy pretty much dropped all communication with him while he was in medical school, though he still obviously had time for Oliver. When Jimmy realizes he abandoned his best friend, he is determined to be there for him and show how sorry he is for his actions.
Jimmy knew that it would be tough for the flamboyant Oliver to fit in with their new life on the ranch, but he didn’t expect just how hard it would be. Oliver isn’t much interested in hard work and his nervousness about fitting in is just making him amp up his flamboyant behavior. Things weren’t great between the two of them even before the move, and now they are going downhill fast. When Oliver cheats on him for a second time, Jimmy knows it is time to move on.
With their friendship on the mend, Jimmy and Eric start to settle back in to the close relationship they once had. Jimmy has been in love with Eric forever, but knowing Eric is straight, he has tried to keep his feelings hidden. But although Eric has always loved being with women, that doesn’t stop him from having feelings for his best friend. Now the men just have to figure out if they can make the move from best friends to lovers without destroying things between them.
My Hometown is a enjoyable friends to lovers story about two best friends who finally admit to their attraction and move on to more. The story really focuses on Jimmy’s two relationships, one with Oliver and the other with Eric. The Eric storyline sees these guys starting off with a conflict as Jimmy comes home expecting everything to fall back into place and Eric still stinging from his feelings of rejection. Jimmy hadn’t realized how much he had been neglecting his friend and is quick to apologize and try to make it up to him. It leaves things kind of strained between them though, especially since Eric clearly doesn’t like Oliver. Over the course of the story the guys move from conflict, to slowly regaining their friendship, to Eric ultimately accepting his feelings for Jimmy. They both are hiding how they feel for a while, but I did really appreciate that these guys talk to each other about their issues and work things out. These guys are fun together and I could really feel their long standing friendship through their interaction.
The Oliver storyline didn’t work as well for me. I found myself frustrated with a lot of the way Oliver is treated, which made me sympathetic to him in ways I didn’t want to be, and that I expect weren’t intended as he is clearly painted as the villain. The men have been dating two years, and although we are told things have been a little rocky between them, we don’t get a whole lot of backstory on their relationship. But we do know that Oliver basically has uprooted his life to come with Jimmy to this small rural area where he will have trouble fitting in and that isn’t particularly compatible with his interests. That seems like a pretty big sacrifice, yet Jimmy gives him basically no support. Yes, Oliver doesn’t wake up early or help with the chores and clearly isn’t so happy with his new life. And yes, he cheats on Jimmy and that isn’t excusable. But Jimmy pretty much drops Oliver off at the house with his mother and leaves him there. He spends all his time working the ranch, hanging out with friends or with Eric, and doesn’t seem to make any effort to incorporate Oliver into his new life. Jimmy gets annoyed at pretty much everything Oliver does and doesn’t stand up for him or show any real affection for this man he has presumably brought home to be his long-term partner. On top of that, it made me crazy that everyone in town (including Eric) has this attitude that gay is fine as long as it is rough and manly gay like Jimmy, but flamboyant and femme gay like Oliver is not ok. Again, Jimmy is embarrassed about Oliver and never defends him, even to Eric. It made me lose respect for both of them honestly. So again, I wanted to dislike Oliver, and I get why the relationship was destined to fail, but I was frustrated because I also felt bad for this guy who is a total fish out of water and his boyfriend makes no effort to help him.
I’ll also note that the blurb makes the story sound like Oliver becomes this maniac when they break up, calling him “vengeful” and “teetering toward insane.” I was expecting some sort of stalkerish plot here, and while I’ll admit Oliver takes a while to accept things are over, it never enters that territory. And again, Jimmy’s glee at kicking him out and lack of any sadness over the end of things makes Oliver’s difficulty accepting the breakup kind of understandable. The issue with the blurb didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, but I mention it so you know what you are getting here.
So overall I would say this story definitely fell on the plus side for me. I love Peterson’s writing and I really enjoyed Eric and Jimmy’s developing relationship. I liked the banter and interplay between them and found them fun together. I also like the bits about life on the ranch and the small town and learning about their shared history. I wasn’t so fond of the Oliver plot, but in the end I think this one is worth checking out, especially for fans of friends to lovers and cowboy/ranch stories.
Cover Review: Well hello there mister sexy cowboy! <<fans self>> I don’t know how Peterson wins the cover lottery over and over but boy is this one delicious!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.