Edgar-Allen Church grew up with an abusive father and a mother that didn’t put him first, which led to a rough childhood and a lot of anger. A chance meeting puts Miller Quinn in his life and Miller gives Church the occasional couch to sleep on. When Church inadvertently threatens the foundation of their relationship, Church finds himself on the streets full of rage one moment and then put into the system for assault the next. It’s been five years and he’s ready to try and move forward, yet without a place to go, Church calls Miller. While Church has not spoken to Miller in all those years, the man has never been far from his thoughts.
Miller was brought up by his father who was strongly conservative and Miller had no choice but to live on the straight and narrow. His relationship with Church grew in unexpected ways, but he could never give Church what he wanted. Miller doesn’t even consider himself in the closet, for he would have to acknowledge that a closet even exists. Instead, Miller lives his life running the family hardware store with his sister and doing what everyone expects him to. When Church crashes back into his life, he not only brings back all of the old feelings, but danger as well. While Church really wants to turn his life around, circumstances may make it impossible and the men soon realize that both their hearts and their lives are at serious risk.
What a whirlwind of a book. This is the second book I have read by Sidney Bell and I will say her writing is impressive. Here we have Church and Miller. We catch up on the start of their earliest relationship and then see Church as he makes his way through a residence program instead of prison. Church has a lot of anger, but he’s really working on it and at the age of twenty-two he wants to do better. His relationship with Miller is complicated. Miller was the only person to offer him anything: a safe place to crash, a comforting gesture, and true friendship. Church can barely forgive himself for ruining things, but he’s still in love with Miller and of course there is another side to the story.
Miller is so in denial it’s almost painful to watch. He clearly knew his father’s feelings growing up and he couldn’t handle the thought of his father abandoning him and Miller squashed down his earliest thoughts of being attracted to men until he forgot they were there. He felt things for Church that he didn’t want to understand and now that Church is back his head is a mess.
This book has a lot going on but Bell keeps it all moving along at the perfect pace and it all fits together perfectly. One major part of the story is clearly the relationship between Church and Miller. There were several scenes between these guys that were nothing short of amazing. There is an attraction and a push and pull as Church tries desperately to keep a physical distance from Miller as that’s what he thinks Miller wants. Miller, on the other hand, has no idea what he wants. Well, maybe he does but he can’t admit to even himself. The scenes of the first times these guys have their hands on each other are filled with undeniable chemistry, but also confusion and shame on Miller’s part and true longing on Church’s part. The emotion that Bell pulled from these characters to spill onto the page was superb in its execution.
The other side to this story is Church’s job and man this guy can’t get a break as he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. This all adds up to the tension that is seemingly plaguing Church at every turn and now he’s forced to continue to be involved with a Russian family that would rather have him out of the way permanently. We also meet two other guys, Ghost and Tobias, who were in the same residence as Church. These characters are so well drawn and not only add to Church’s story, but each of them has so much intrigue and mystery on their own and I am definitely looking forward to both of their upcoming stories. Ghost is most certainly in a category all by himself and I can’t imagine anyone reading who wouldn’t be intrigued by the glimpses we are shown of him.
As much as the story line and the writing truly captivated me and there were moments of true writing talent, I will admit to having some difficulty with Miller. He was presented as so bland sometimes. While he was a good friend to Church and made him feel safe, I at times wondered what Church saw in him as a love interest. He also was so caught up in his own feelings and self loathing that he was crushing Church time and again and really didn’t see what he was doing. Overall, he stayed true to his character, but his denial and stammering and avoidance did become a bit much to watch throughout the entire book and even by the end I still had mixed feelings about him.
While there are several storylines running here at the same time, there was an almost perfect balance to it all. The relationship between Church and Miller stays in focus while the larger arc is running alongside and no area overpowered the other. This book is only one part of a larger story as the larger arc and even some areas of Church and Miller’s life were left open at the end. This was a great start to this series and Loose Cannon is a book I would recommend you check out.