Saturday, June 4, 2016

ARC Review: Love Can't Conquer (Love Can't 1) by Kim Fielding

Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.

Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.

Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.

Dani's rating:

This is another gorgeous contemporary love story from Kim Fielding, whom I blame for many, many sleepless nights. I can't put her books down, and this one was no exception.

Love Can't Conquer reminds me of Fielding's Rattlesnake, which ended up on my top 10 books of 2015 list. If you liked Rattlesnake, you will like this book, which also features two very real, imperfect MCs, heartwrenching angst, strong secondary characters, and a hard-earned HEA.

Jeremy Cox, a park ranger in Portland whom everyone calls "Chief," is sure he knows Qayin (transliteration for Hebrew קָ֫יִן or Cain) from somewhere and is drawn to the quiet man who doesn't like to talk about his past.

Bullied as a kid, Jeremy stands up for the helpless, the homeless, the rejected. When his troubled ex-boyfriend shows up bruised and battered on his doorstep, Jeremy patches him up, lets him spend the night, and sends him on his way with all the cash in his wallet. This is probably more than the ex deserves, but Jeremy is kind like that.

Jeremy sees something special in Qay, and Qay is in awe of Jeremy, whom he dubs Captain Caffeine (the men meet in a coffee shop owned by Jeremy's friend Rhoda).

A former addict, Qay's been in jail and on the streets. He knows hard times and suffers from severe anxiety and distorted thought patterns that spiral out of control. Holding down a steady job at a glass factory and going to school to earn his associate degree, Qay still feels worthless.

Qay can't believe someone as accomplished and handsome as Jeremy would ever want him. But Jeremy loves Qay just the way he is and sees beyond Qay's dumpy flat, well used clothes, and host of mental issues to the smart, caring, and funny man Qay is at heart.

The relationship between Jeremy and Qay is sweet beyond measure. Both men are over 40; both are lonely. Jeremy has a few close friends, but Qay is all alone in the world. As their friendship develops, Jeremy takes Qay hiking and out to dinner. Qay always insists on paying his fair share, because he's proud like that and refuses to depend on anyone.

While the story is very much relationship focused, the plot weaves in suspense with a dash of mystery. Jeremy's ex was involved with some unsavory people, and Jeremy is in danger by association. His flat is ransacked, and the police tell him to watch his back.

The angst stems for Qay's insecurities and his brutal past. The last few chapters are at once tense and incredibly poignant. When Jeremy is badly hurt, Qay can't hold it together.

My heart broke for both Qay, who lashes out in anger and pain, and Jeremy, who tries so desperately to save the man he loves.

I loved Jeremy's friends Rhoda and Nevin. Rhoda is feisty, supportive, and stubborn. Her coffee shop overflows with color and light. Nevin, despite his filthy mouth and boundless sarcasm, is fiercely loyal.

Honorable mention goes to Qay's awesome professor and Elijah, who was a standout despite being present on only a few pages.

There's not a lot of steam here, but the love shines through. Kim Fielding is one of the few authors who makes me feel connected to the characters even if the sexy action is subdued.

As Qay says, You can't conquer everything with love. But it sure makes a hell of an ally.

Get the book:


If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
~Emily Dickinson

An ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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