“That casual kiss on my cheek would have meant nothing until recently; I realized I was in love with him. Not that ‘I love you, man,’ type of love. Nope. I was ass over teacup in love with my best friend. The ‘let’s get married and grow old together’ type of love.” – Summer Michaels
Author: Indra Vaughn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Pastry chef and bakery owner Jason Wood bakes a mean chocolate soufflé, yet his love life keeps falling flat. He’d blame his past if he wasn’t trying so hard to avoid it.
When his family’s farmhouse burns to the ground, he’s summoned to identify a body found in the ashes. Jason returns to Hancock, Michigan, and reunites with a childhood friend, small town vet Henry McCavanaugh. After fifteen years apart, their rekindled friendship soon develops into much more. But Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance, and he leaves town unannounced to escape his feelings—and Henry’s feelings for him. He has learned the hard way if something seems too good to be true, it’s best to run for the hills. Jason stress-bakes more confections than he knows what to do with before wondering if he’s running in the wrong direction.
Review: The House on Hancock Hill was my first Indra Vaughn book. I like to try new authors and love to read books with interesting or intriguing titles. This met both of those criteria. There is a house on Hancock Hill that has been in Jason Wood’s family for generations. A friend of the family willed it to Jason’s grandfather. As a child, Jason was able to get out of the city and spend summers there with his family and eventually, with just his father after his mother deserted both of them.
Jason and Henry McCavanaugh, and the other Musketeer, Jimmy, were joined at the hip as children. In the summer they were inseparable. Henry and Jimmy lived there year-round and only got to see Jason in the summers. Then, suddenly, Jason’s dad stopped taking him to The House on Hancock Hill. The house fell into disrepair and has sat empty for over a decade.
During one of the worst storms of the winter, a now adult Jason is headed back because he received a call that the house had burned down and was a total loss. Jason is a very talented and successful pastry chef. He owns a bakery and is in the middle of negotiations to open another one when he receives the call about the fire. He plans to take a quick trip to see the remains of the house, sign the required paperwork and head home. He doesn’t take into account the effect of a blizzard on driving conditions or that his past will come back to hit him between the eyes. And between the legs.
As Jason and Henry rekindle their friendship after a fifteen year separation, it becomes apparent that there are a bunch of folks in town keeping secrets from Jason. Secrets and mysteries and lovers, oh my! As Jason learns all that he thought he knew was a lie, it becomes too much for him, and he sneaks out of Henry’s bed in the early hours without even a goodbye kiss.
The way Ms. Vaughn reveals one little tidbit of information to the reader, and to Jason and Henry, at a time is sublimely satisfying. We are given just enough information in small bits to figure things out. Or are we?
I loved the supporting characters, even if they were secretive suckers sometimes. I wanted to hit Jason’s mom over the head with a blunt object. But isn’t that the hallmark of a good author? The ability to write characters so fully fleshed out that you feel varying emotions for them. My feelings towards Jason varied from sad to angry to hopeful, and back and forth several times.
I loved Henry! He deserved to be happy. There is an event in the book that just breaks Henry’s heart and along with it, mine. I cried for him as I yelled at Jason that Henry needed him, dammit! The course of action that Jason chose was one I thought was a little, okay a lot, underwhelming. When you read it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’m trying to write around it!
The House on Hancock Hill was an emotionally satisfying read. The characters made me feel, the town itself was quite a central character, and there was just enough of a mystery to keep me guessing. And secrets? Whoo boy, were there some whoppers. I strongly recommend this to everyone!