Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review: You're Always in the Last Place You Look by T.N. Gates (Tara Spears)

You're Always in the Last Place You LookBlurb:

 Gabriel is solitary by design, not by choosing. He has a few friends—okay, one real friend and his roping partner. But being the town pastor’s son isn’t easy. Not to mention he’s sure he was born askew, without the ability to experience life the way others seem to. It is the only explanation he has for why he isn’t like everyone else.

However, when he rescues Zane, a misplaced city boy dressed in tattoos and leather, from a killer bumblebee, he experiences more than he expects.

Zane shows Gabriel that sometimes the path you’ve chosen isn’t set in stone, and more times than not, you’ll find yourself in the last place you look.

Todd’s rating:

 I did really enjoy this book. It kept a pretty even keep, without tons of sharp turns this way or that. Just a nice, steady pace as the story progressed along.

It was nice seeing the completely adorable, but shunned and sometimes-bullied preacher's son, Gabriel (aka, "God Boy") come into his own.

Gabe is what most people would call clueless. VERY clueless. While not quite 'short bus' material, he most certainly isn't going to show up in his high school year book's superlatives pages for "Most Perceptive" any time soon.

Other than losing his virginity to a hyper-aggressive girl at 16, under dubious consent on *his* part, he'd never been with anyone. Never felt the desire to be with anyone.

Gabe never imagined that he could be gay. The thought honestly never entered his head, even though there was one boy who he didn't mind showering beside, repeatedly, in gym. Nope, absolutely, positively not gay.

That is until a broken, tattooed bad boy came to town.

Zane's entire world came crumbling down around him when his family's van was in an accident with a logging truck in Chicago. One where his entire family slowly died around him, one at a time, until he was left alone and trapped. The sole survivor.

Before Zane is anywhere close to ready, he is pulled from his city life in Chicago to live with his uncle and aunt in rural Idaho. New life. New school. New expectations. Even with his medications, it's all too much for Zane in his extremely fragile state after the accident.

That is until a quiet, soulful country boy became the center of both his world and his well-being.

Time after time, Gabe saves Zane from both the world and from himself, which is truly a privilege to follow in the book.

But dating someone with as many emotional issues as Zane isn't easy, especially when he's still questioning whether or not he's *actually* gay. [See above reference to "cluelessness."]
It had never been this complicated with a girl. Take her on a date then fight her off until she broke up with me.
Yes, *that* clueless. But the internal battle that Gabe wages for his own sexuality, however half-heartedly, was both endearing and the source of many an eye roll.

For me, this book was ALL about Gabe. I felt that Zane's character could have easily been interchanged with any number of other troubled characters I've read, and enjoyed slightly more, in other books recently. I liked Zane, but he wasn't truly outstanding the way that I felt Gabe's character was written.

And when the inevitable "big event" that separates our two heroes occurs, I truly tried to work myself up enough to queen out about the injustice of it all, but I just couldn't.

From the very beginning, city boy Zane had said,

So my brain kept telling me that I couldn't, realistically at least, get mad at Zane for following through on his very up-front promise. (The *way* he did it? Hell, yeah, but the fact that he did, not so much.)

And it was painful to follow Gabe through the heartbreaking aftermath, including the well-intentioned blind date that his friends set him up with, but I still couldn't feel much of anything besides empathy for Gabe -- but never, never a desire to say "he told you so."

[Confession: And a burning need to punch Al, the truly nice, if not a bit handsy, blind date in the throat. And the junk. And in his junk again. What? I'm loyal that way, sue me.]

But Zane inevitably (view spoiler) so we do get our happily ever after. Yay for the HEA!

I would note that the entire book is told from Gabe's perspective; however, there is a short shift in the book to Zane's perspective toward the end, which completely threw me and kind of screwed with the previously easy flow of the book.

I personally would have either done a 50/50 perspective book or 100% Gabe. (That might just be me, but a few other reviews did mention finding it distracting as well, so not alone, I guess.)

Regarding the sexy bits, well, it's pretty much as Gabe himself put it, "vestal virgin" for the most part. Even when there was sexiness, there's only a vague description, then the afterglow and "feelings." Full stop.

In the case of supporting characters, overall I enjoyed them.

- Tye rocked. Especially with the fact that, That was nothing short of precious in my book.

- Gabe's pastor father... Fucking A-MAY-ZZZZZING, even with God riding shotgun in his shirt pocket. 'Nuff said.

- Lily, as Gabe's best friend, I found a bit more bland then she was attempted to be written. Her sass was a bit flat for my taste. If you're gonna be a diva, bring your A game and own that shit (ala, Mel's Operation "It's Raining Bitches" from "After School Activities" by Dirk Hunter. I doubt I will ever forget her.)

- Ruger, the slobbery, 'evil' Rottweiler (with a heart of gold). He added a lot of depth and feels to his chapters for me.

Lastly, (will he ever just shut the hell up already?) this book was very long at 347 pages (per Amazon). But do you know those books where you tuck in and read and read and read, then look at the page number and your jaw drops?

"I KNOW I've read more pages than that!" Well, this is one of those books. So if you feel like a quick read, pick another book.

IMHO, I think that with some good editing, the book would have been slightly more enjoyable if brought into focus a bit more and trimmed down to about 250 pages. Again, just my opinion.

4 solid *yes-you're-GAY-already* stars this time around.
This was my copy of the book and was not provided by the publisher.

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