Two very lonely men come together in a tangled story that has more to do with the choices they have made than circumstances thrust upon them. For Chris, his choice to remain in the small town and run his café meant saying goodbye to his mercurial boyfriend and living in a town where there are essentially no other out gay men—hence the chances of finding another partner are slim to none. For Hank, years of denying who he is and a near disastrous career ending affair caused such severe anxiety issues that even the thought of pursuing another man for anything other than a one night stand is unthinkable.
Chris and Hank meet when Hank is dispatched on the advance team to establish a new water plant in the town and they see one another at the annual town festival where Chris runs his bakery table. There is an instant awareness of each other, which leads to a clandestine meeting and then something more. But every moment these two sneak around to be together is overshadowed by the idea that Hank is only in town short term and still deeply closeted. However, the heart wants what it wants and despite all the cards in the deck being stacked against them, Chris and Hank begin to realize it may not be so easy to walk away from each other in the end.
I enjoy author Mel Bossa’s work. This novel, No River Wide Enough, certainly had some wonderful moments. The relationship between Chris and his neighbor, Shirley, and her little boy, Troy, was lovely, as was meeting some of the townspeople who supported Chris. However, between his utter exhaustion and doubts about whether he could ever keep his café afloat after his business partner is taken ill and his utter loneliness, I was really unsure why he chose to remain behind in the place that made him so unhappy so often. When Hank comes to town, I had real hope that here was someone who Chris could help come out and make a life with, but Hank, too, was such a bundle of sadness that even their intimate times together were constantly tinged with doubts and fears. In short, this was a cautiously happy romance that didn’t see the happy part until near the very end. That’s a long time to stay rooted in constant anxiety and fear.
There is a happy ever after for these two men and I do think that for many that will be the only thing that matters in the end. For me, I felt that there were issues beyond Hank’s need to come clean to his father that never really got dealt with and I’m not sure that the ending outweighed those sufficiently so as not to make them more like glaring plot holes than anything else. Because of certain circumstances, these two never really got a whole lot of time together to discuss the ramifications of Hank’s debilitating anxiety issues—they were touched upon, but never resolved or even fully discussed. I just felt that the rush to finish this novel in the acceptable HEA way deprived the reader of some much needed tie up to the many issues presented during the course of the book.
While I enjoy Mel Bossa and many of the other works this author has put out, I’m afraid No River Wide Enough left me with more questions than answers. It had some great moments definitely, just not enough to make this a stand out piece of writing by this talented author.