Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrators: Kirt Graves and Kale Williams
Length: 6 hours, 8 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

Liam is traveling from California after he left his Master’s program and didn’t tell his parents he was leaving the state or leaving school. When his car breaks down in snowy Vermont, Liam is stranded, but Liam wouldn’t mind if the mechanic that rescues him helps to warm him up. Except, Liam can’t quite get a read on Jasper, even after he winds up staying the night in Jasper’s home.

Jasper’s husband died three years ago and the loss still feels fresh and raw. He doesn’t know how to move forward and, until he meets Liam, he hasn’t wanted to. But Jasper’s grief has almost become his identity and he has no idea how to move on. The tension is thick as two strangers get cozy to ride out the storm and a power outage and Jasper does all he can to fight his feelings for Liam.

The men both have issues to attend to; Liam’s are in California and Jasper’s are within his own heart. But when a fresh start is right there in front of the men, they will have to commit to moving forward to have a chance at a life together.

Daybreak is part of the Vino and Veritas collection, which is a set of multi-author stories set in the larger World of True North universe. The books are designed to be standalone stories that can be read in any order and feature the Vino and Veritas wine bar and bookstore.

Many of the books in this series feature a character from out of town coming to Vermont and that is what Liam is doing as well. Well, he wasn’t planning on staying in Vermont, but his car had other plans. You have to be able to go with the set up of the story here in that moments after Jasper, a mechanic, learns of Liam’s car issues, Jasper invites Liam to stay at his home for days until the repair can be made.

The book is character driven as most of the story takes place at or close to Jasper’s home and there isn’t that much that happens outside of that. The men are snowed in for a time and then waiting on car parts for a time and they are trying to figure each other out without asking many questions. There is attraction right from the start, but Jasper tries to squash it due to his feelings over his husband’s death and Liam knows that a relationship isn’t possible because he’s not staying in Vermont.

Jasper carries so much grief and Hawthorne writes it well. The grief has become Jasper’s identity and everyone in town looks at him with sympathy and every day is a struggle for Jasper with the weight of all he is carrying around. There were times it was difficult to see what Liam saw in Jasper. Sure, he liked the way Jasper looked, but all Jasper gave Liam was unending grief with not much else to draw him in. We do get dual POVs, so we know how they are both feeling, but the men don’t share a lot of that with each other. I needed to see more true relationship development between the men before they were then quickly in love with each other. Jasper also has a friend, Devon, who seemed to randomly pop in and out to give Jasper someone to talk to and there wasn’t a smooth flow as to how Devon fit into the larger story.

Liam’s family issues also weren’t too developed and that was his main backstory and I would have like to see it explored more to round him out. Jasper has appeared before in this series, most notably for me in Unguarded, as Jasper becomes friends with Emmett and Tai when Jasper’s dog, Gus, needs surgery. With a different author writing Emmett and Tai, they have a different vibe here. Also, Gus was so vital to Jasper from the previous story and while Gus is seen here, it’s minimal, and the balance was off from what I already knew of these characters.

The setting here is calm and warm despite the cold weather, and there is tie-in to the larger Vino & Veritas world. If you have been following this series, you may want to catch up with this world again with Jasper and Liam.

The audio of this book added a lot, and I would certainly recommend listening to this one. Kirt Graves and Kale Williams seemed like the dream team here as they narrate the dual points of view. Their voices have a similar tone and quality, which made it pleasant to transition from one chapter and character to the next. Both of their voices fit the more somber tone to the story and the emotion and attraction came through as needed. It was easy to fall into small town snowy Vermont life with Liam and Jasper and Graves and Williams’ performances are worth a listen.