Dr. Jeff Martin is a closeted gay physician on the Isle of Wight. He’s been in a committed relationship with his college romance, Tris, for the past ten years, though they live hundreds of kilometers apart. It is always Jeff—on his rare weekends off—who drives for a visit. Never Tris, not once in the past five years. And though he resents this one-sidedness in their relationship, Jeff’s resisted all efforts and cajoling on Tris’ part to move to Manchester. Jeff has a strong suspicion that giving up his country practice to co-habitate with Tris will only frustrate him more. Because he doesn’t believe that Tris really respects him, and he secretly suspects—very, very strongly—that Tris is not (and will never be) faithful. Still, Tris flaunting his indiscretions is the final straw, and Dr. Jeff returns to his lonely Isle not quite alone.
No, Jeff encounters the beautiful and lovely Cameron Gillard on the ferry back to Wight. Cameron is the great-grandson to one of Jeff’s more beloved patients and having her in common they strike up a conversation. And arrange a date. Cameron is a younger man, twenty-eight, and a car mechanic on Wight. He loves his family dearly, and especially his Gran, who he minds tirelessly. I loved the way Cam and his friends swallowed Jeff whole into their well of love. Jeff had isolated himself, even in his own space on Wight, and needed friends.
Being seen in the company of “known gays” pretty much outs Jeff to the local populace, it seems, but he takes the second step to confront his partners in practice, and the support staff, who are almost totally supportive. And his attraction to Cameron is certainly ramping up. It was a bit heartbreaking, honestly, to realize the depths of isolation in which Jeff lived. He’d had a home for five years and never one guest. Cameron was soon installed all over his cottage. But Cameron was so cagey about his own history, and situation. Jeff was suspicious—and I think having Tris so fresh in his mind was problematic because Jeff was a man who wanted clear answers, and Cameron’s reluctance to reveal more caused Jeff to wonder and suspect issues that were never there.
Cameron got serious fast. I liked his self-assurance, and the assurances he made Jeff, but Jeff and I shared reservations, especially as Cameron had a bit of a chip on his shoulder regarding being less educated, or wealthy, than Jeff. I really liked how Jeff handled those issues.
I’m used to reading stories where a couple splits at the beginning and we never hear from the other as the story follows the new love story. Not the case here. Tris becomes more than “the former boyfriend” and bothers to drive out to visit Jeff—more than once. The first time as an attempt to win Jeff back. Upon learning that Jeff and Cameron are together, Tris tries to insert himself into their equation, and that does cause problems. Cameron’s an impulsive, heart-on-his-sleeve guy—which Jeff admires to some degree—but his reactions to Tris’ baiting were far more extreme than I think either of them could take. Expect an interlude of solitude, and some deep soul-searching.
That said, this is a good read, with a calm plotline, nice sexy times, and interesting characters. Jeff is a faithful man and narrator, and his feelings, while confused at times, are always true. He adores Cameron’s affability and easy affection. Jeff had been so forlorn, even in his relationship with Tris, that he sucks up every ounce of care that Cameron lavishes on him. The book is filled with charming people, and quiet moments, only a bit of drama at the end, and even that is on the understated side. The love story develops kinda quickly but lasts long—months before we have any real hiccups—and it’s an HEA. It’s the first book in a series, and there’s a cast of characters here that will surely be fodder for stories down the road.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.