Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrators: David Lee Garver and Lance West
Length: 9 hours, 6 minutes
Monroe is a newly retired naval officer who was in charge of criminal investigations in the NCIS division. He’s out and proud and eager to start his life over in the Castro district of San Francisco. All he has to do is rehab the Victorian home his great-aunt left him in Safe Harbor, Oregon. Monroe had moved in with Aunt Henri when he was in high school and didn’t want to relocate–again–with his enlisted father. There, in Safe Harbor, Monroe made some lifelong friends, including Rob. Rob’s now the town’s chief of police and Monroe’s been assisting by reviewing cold cases in his spare time. Monroe needs help fixing up the house and Rob recommends his son, Knox, a fresh college graduate who’s headed to grad school in architecture and has been working for several summers in a local remodeling business. If Monroe houses Knox, he can probably get the help he needs rehabbing for little cost. Unfortunately, Knox is 18 years younger, gorgeous, gay, and interested in Monroe.
Knox has long felt like a fringe element of his large, blended families. Rob had Knox days after high school graduation, and the subsequent divorce from Knox’s mom led to two remarriages, and Knox has spent his life in transit between homes. Now, Knox has a couple of stepsiblings, three half-sisters, and another sibling on the way. Safe Harbor is the place he’s most felt at home, and he’s never really felt like he had anyplace else to really call his own. Dubbed “Rebound” by his college friends, Knox could be counted on to help soothe aching hearts, but never really seemed to find his own man to treasure him long term.
The connection between Knox and Monroe started with a random meet up before they knew each other, and that heat is still simmering once Knox and his cat, Wallace, take up residence with Monroe for the summer. Monroe has the maturity Knox longs for, and he’s dead sexy, but Knox respects that any relationship with Monroe would upset his dad and potentially destroy their decades-long friendship. Knox also has to make some decisions about his future, as he wants to remain in Safe Harbor, while Monroe’s plans to escape this small-town life a second time get less and less attractive the more he and Knox spend time together. Now, the rehab itself may lead to them to building a life–however complicated–together.
Bring Me Home is the first book in the Safe Harbor series of small-town romances set in a sleepy coastal Oregon town. The two narrators each take one of the chapter POVs, so gruff Monroe’s chapters have a grittier, older sounding narration, while sunny Knox’s feels younger and more chipper. That was nice, especially with the large age gap between MCs. That said, I kind of struggled with the narration for Monroe at the outset, as the pacing seemed especially dismal and tired, especially in the first half. I had previously read the book, and the audio didn’t match the same virile, young-looking for his age vibe for Monroe as the book gave me. The voice sounded significantly older than 41, and I had to adjust my expectations. Knox’s chapters were significantly upbeat, with a pacing that suited a 23 year-old character with boundless energy and endless creative ideas.
The story is the story, however, and I really enjoyed the layered and nuanced plot. There’s a cold case murder-mystery arc that extends across the series, and I liked how that came to be here. I’m a big fan of the author and was not disappointed in the story in the slightest. I think the audio was good, and I’ve listened to it several times. I suppose I just don’t think this one has that quality that will cause me to scroll back through my audio files for it very often, which I understand is highly subjective and might not match other listeners’ experience. For me, though, that’s a hallmark of good audiobooks.