What are you to do when you discover that most of your life you have lived a sort of lie? Tyler is a deputy sheriff in the small town of Sweetwater, raising his six-year-old daughter alone after the death of her mother several years ago. He doesn’t really date—he never seems to have the time. But the day Tyler pulls over the out of towner for speeding and realizes it’s his brother’s best friend, Max, returning to town to live, everything changes. Suddenly, Tyler is attracted to someone for the first time in years and it happens to be a man.
Low in angst and heavy in romance, Anna Martin’s The Color of Summer is a lovely coming out story. Max and Tyler are drawn to each other almost immediately and after Tyler comes to terms with his attraction to Max, their relationship slowly begins to develop. Max was just sufficiently skittish when it came to commitment to make it feel really genuine that Tyler was wary of announcing to the world that he was not really straight. Wisely not putting a label on it, but knowing that he was definitely interested in men, Tyler was pretty down on himself for waiting until his early thirties in order to admit to himself that he had never really been interested in his late wife and had dug himself pretty deeply into the closet by thinking that he didn’t really want sex with anyone—not just women. Then Max came back into town, the best friend of Tyler’s youngest brother and everything Tyler thought he knew about himself went right out the window.
Max was extraordinarily patient while Tyler figured out things about himself—so much so that you could see how Tyler and his little daughter, Juniper, were actually changing Max—moving him from someone who normally ran from close relationships to someone who was craving one with Tyler. Martin cleverly took her time crafting this romance, allowing Max and Tyler to fumble a bit and even call a break in terms of how fast they were moving things forward after such a short few months. As a result, I felt the push and pull of Tyler’s fears that the town would look on its deputy sheriff with something less than respect if he suddenly came out to them. I loved how both men used their mothers as sounding boards and how those two women always began giving their advice by assuring their sons they were loved.
The best thing about this novel though was the way in which both men grew considerably by voicing their fears and concerns and not rushing each other into things neither were comfortable with. This was a slow burn romance with some especially tender moments shared by Max and Tyler and because of that, I felt very connected to the story and these two guys.
The Color of Summer features a later in life coming out story that has just the right pacing and equal amounts of conversational intimacy interspersed with the physical. It is a beautiful love story and one that might just be a great beach read for the romantics out there.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.