For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.
**3.5 stars, rounded up**
I loved the idea of two mature gay characters in a novel and jumped at the opportunity for an ARC when offered. This book didn't disappoint my expectations. And while it's not a romance in the traditional sense, it had plenty of moments filled with powerful emotions. No, I'm not talking about sex.
Owen is a widowed farmer who's been raising his daughter Laura on his own for over 25 years. For about 20 of those 25, he's also quietly and steadily carried on a love affair with Kerry, a free-spirited artist fighting many inner demons.
Owen is in his fifties and like many of his generation (my own dear husband included), he doesn't like to talk about his emotions and can't often find the words to express them. He quietly loves his daughter, quietly loves Kerry and quietly loves the land he owns. He's portrayed as the typical gentle male whose still waters run deep and hide the many complexities of his character.
Kerry, on the other hand, is a broken, damaged soul, still pained by the losses of friends in the 90s due to the AIDS epidemic, and reluctant to settle down with Owen on the quiet farm. He loves Owen in his own way, but is afraid to admit that he needs him and instead chooses to run whenever the going gets tough. A lot of his characterization is realistic and very much understandable, as his background information is slowly released, but I still found him to be rather on the selfish side, though I made a concession and considered that his selfishness was a protective measure due to lack of trust, and the hurt he's gone through.
I very much liked the characterization of Laura, Owen's daughter, who didn't have all the answers but genuinely loved both her father and her "uncle" Kerry, who's been a fixture in her life for 20 years, no matter that he doesn't actually live with them, and they only see him every so often (when NYC gets too loud and Kerry needs to escape).
There isn't much action to the story, and both men struggle with communication and honesty, fearful of saying too much or opening up too much, thus inviting more pain. There is a cataclysm towards the end that shows Kerry something he hadn't realized before, and we get a satisfying ending to the book.
The writing was very good, flowing nicely, and really invoking the emotions as intended. You could feel Kerry's pain and desperation, Owen's confusion and fears, and Laura's exasperation with both of them.
Also, as far as M/M romances go, this book is very much on the PG side of things. Nary a scene, and none explicit. It didn't suffer for it though, because the author managed just fine without them to make this reader feel the depth of their connection.
A lovely introduction to this new to me author, but definitely not the last time I pick up one of her books.
I received a free ARC from Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.
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