“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Having read all three of the books in Ben Ryder’s English Men Stories series so far, I must say that this one is my favorite. The writing is tighter, it seems to flow more smoothly. The plot is more even and things unravel at an even pace without random events seeming to come from nowhere. Not to say I didn’t like the first two books. I gave Noah four stars and Side Line three.
One of the great things about Released is that it brings back the characters from the first two books. It wraps up the loose ends for Noah & Callum and Damon & Jay. Also, Jackie, who I felt was the strongest character in Side Line is a more central character in Released. Confused? If you are, you’ll have to read all three books. And book number four which I have to assume is coming because Mr. Ryder did not end this one to my satisfaction! Can’t say more without giving away important details.
Dominic has just moved to New York City from London. He has gotten a new job, but also fled from his emotionally abusive cheating dog of a boyfriend of five years. All that remains of their relationship is to sell the house they co-own and split the proceeds.
Dominic’s new job is at a small New York daily paper. He works with Jackie and they become fast friends. He is attracted to Alex, another gay man working at the paper, but it has only been two weeks since he left Richard and he’s not ready to date. Alex has been working for almost a year on a story regarding the alleged illegal activities of Howard Johannson, the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. Johannson is publicly and loudly anti LGBT rights.
Not long after arriving in New York, Dominic meets a handsome stranger on the subway. They hook up several times for illicit, risky sexual encounters. They never even exchange names, just anonymous e-mail accounts.
When Alex and Dominic go to a white water rafting business about five hours outside of the city to review it for the paper, they share a lot of personal information. Alex tells Dominic about his lover, Ted, who died in an accident while picking up their wedding rings. He also explains why he holds Johannson personally responsible for Ted’s death. Dominic tells Alex about Richard and how his control of Dominic and later, his cheating, drove Dominic to move to New York.
Everything comes together at the retirement party for Noah (from book one) which is sponsored by Side Line Beer (from book two) and attended by Jay & Damon, Noah & Callum, Alex & Dominic and Jackie. Also in attendance is the new owner of the hockey team from which Noah is retiring, Howard Johannson and his son, Reed. I know, it’s a lot of people and it’s hard to remember them all. Just read the books, problem solved.
The characters introduced in Released are more accessible than in the first two books in the series. It was awesome to get to know Jackie a little better, as her role in Side Line was small. I can only hope she has an even larger role in book four, because she is great. She’s the glue that holds all these guys together. Well, I just did a little checking and it turns out that the title of book four is: Jackie’s Boys – A Tale of Two Weddings. I guess it’s safe to assume her role will be bigger. In a blog post Ryder says that in the upcoming release, Jackie plans two weddings. But whose weddings?
I really enjoyed this book. The previously introduced guys seemed like old friends. Dominic and Alex seemed like instant friends. I have noticed growth and improvement (IMHO) in Ryder’s work as this series has progressed. If these books just keep getting better, I can’t imagine what he has planned for number four. Yes, I am looking forward to number four! Have you picked up on that? Strongly recommended.
Reviewed by: Tina