Silas Soane doesn’t have the time or desire for a committed relationship. One night stands are sufficient for the O’Leary police officer who is not reticent about his desire to remain a free agent. But when Silas catches sight of the limping stranger on the winding road leading into town, he can’t help but flirt just a little. That turns into something a bit more serious—something that scares Silas into wondering just why this man has gotten so far under his skin so quickly.
Everett Maior has returned home to care for his curmudgeonly grandfather while he recuperates from a “bruised” leg. He and his granddad have never gotten along and Ev has always known the man didn’t approve of his being gay. Since the death of his spouse, Ev has become an independent loner—never allowing anyone to penetrate the wall of grief he has built around his heart. However the local policeman who helped him out after his car crashed is quickly becoming the exception. That is something Everett can’t let happen—after all moving on means losing his tight hold on the past and the memories of his husband—he can’t abide that even if it means he never has a chance to love again.
May Archer kicks off her Love in O’Leary series with the first book, The Fall. Beginning this book, I was so glad I had read the novella, The Date, that introduces so many characters and really sets up the small community of O’Leary. Having done so, I was never lost when another character was brought into a scene and seemed so connected to the main character, Silas. I must admit, even though the town seemed to be painted in this most idyllic light in the first novella, we get a real sense of all the drama that O’Leary has to offer in this book.
Let me begin by saying that I absolutely fell in love with Silas. For a determined bachelor, he was the kindest and most gentle of souls and that stood out to make this story a bit different from the standard romance. Nothing terrible happened to make Silas a confirmed free agent. Instead, it’s just that he was too scared to be hurt, so he never puts himself in a situation to be dumped by a lover. He has no qualms about hooking up and has convinced himself that he would make for lousy relationship material anyway—until he meets Everett.
Everett is such a mess, twisting up his need to hold onto his husband’s memory with a sense that to remain loyal and not get involved with another man romantically would somehow honor his dead husband and keep their past together safe. I really felt his dilemma, his trauma over the idea of dating anyone else and somehow losing the love of his life who was already gone from his physical life, but still very much a part of his heart and mind. Silas was the perfect match for Ev and it took a pretty frightening experience for Ev to see that for himself and that leads us to the mystery element in this novel.
People are disappearing into the woods outside O’Leary. First it’s a camper who’d come to town to get away on vacation, then a ranger, and more. Silas is beside himself to find the killer who is haunting the woods. When it all strikes so close to home, Silas realizes he has little to no time to find the killer’s latest victims if they are to remain alive. Although this aspect of the story was minor in comparison to the unfolding romance between Silas and Ev, I found it to be fairly chilling—particularly when we discover just who is behind the murders. Yes, at times, it was a bit clumsy, with the murderer’s motives a bit messy and unclear, but then it came to the final moments and it was all unpacked quite nicely, in my opinion.
So, in the end, we have a hurt/comfort trope wrapped inside a sweet romance, a mystery in a small town that causes huge waves, and a second chance at love all rolled into one nicely written novel. The Fall is quite a good little story and definitely whets my appetite to read more about this community May Archer has created. I look forward to seeing who will be the focus of the next story.