Title: Then the Stars Fall
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: The death of his wife four years earlier left Travis Bennett a shell of the man he used to be.With his dog by his side, Travis raises his three children, manages his business, and works as a ranch hand. But every day, every minute, is an aching emptiness.
Wesley Ryan has fond memories of the small Ozark town of El Dorado. Seeing it as a safe place to put his failed relationships behind him, Wesley moves into his grandparents’ old home and takes over the local veterinary clinic. An early morning visit from Travis and his dog stirs feelings that Wesley seeks to push away—the last thing he needs is to fall for a man with baggage and three kids as part of the package.
Review: Brandon Witt is a new author for me, but believe me when I assure you that prior to this review, I invested in this author’s backlist and cannot wait to begin knowing this man’s work on a grander scale. Then The Stars Fall is so much more than just a simple novel of love and healing. With realistic characters and poignant moments that will threaten to tear your heart out, this novel is nothing short of brilliant.
At first glance, the story seems to be about a boldly out and slightly flaming city veterinarian who has moved into the sleepy town of El Dorado, Missouri. There to intern at the local clinic, his chance encounter with a grieving widower, Travis Bennett, and his family of three, becomes the catalyst for Wesley to actually consider making this town his home once again. But Wesley is valiantly trying to escape the shame and anger over being dumped by his partner of nine years, and is still recovering from two more years of hedonistic living. In other words, he is trying to find himself again and has sworn off men in the interim, for who could possibly find any gay men in this one horse town? But hiding beneath the weight of losing his best friend and loving wife, Travis also carries a desperate secret and is determined to keep it that way, until his sweet corgi, Dunkyn, gets ill and he is forced to see the new vet.
What follows is a story so beautiful that it is truthfully hard to pinpoint reasons why I would give this novel ten stars, if such a rating existed. It was not just the growing love between these two men that plays out on the page, it was the family and town that changed and grew as well. Never have I seen such a masterful handling of both beloved pets and insanely sweet children. Such incredibly careful writing over every nuance in this story made this family and those who surrounded them undeniably real and fascinating to watch. There was no instant love, no easy reveal of the fact that after twenty years of marriage and three children, Travis was still attracted to men. No, there was pain and confusion, a denial of being gay and a refusal to be labeled bisexual; and there was grief—oh my, there was such grief along with the story of children who lived in the shadow of their former lives.
Every chapter in this book produced more to love about these men. Every page revealed just a bit more about the unique relationship Travis had shared with his Shannon, and by novel’s end you were grieving her loss, even though without it there would be no second chapter for Travis and no Wesley for him to love. Time after time, Brandon Witt exposed both the love and hate that the town felt toward Wesley and Travis. This was no happy fairy tale where everyone accepted and got along, yet there was such a subtle move toward acceptance from a town that had never liked change and refused to consider it. I must fully admit, I fell in love with this book. My heart bled for Travis and my stomach burned at some of the slurs, and more, that Wesley endured, but overall, I felt the author offset all the potential hate with one soothing layer of compassion and healing after another for this sleepy town and the Bennett family.
Once in a while, a novel comes along that simply stuns you with its capacity to move you. Then The Stars Fall was a gorgeously written, lush novel that flowed with such grace and beauty onto the page. I highly recommend this novel to you. It is a remarkable piece of literature that you will not want to miss.
You can buy Then the Stars Fall here:
The Giveaway: I’m not sure how many of you follow Brandon on Facebook, but if you do, you know that sweet Dunkyn passed away just yesterday. In honor of the joy he brought to Brandon’s life, The Novel Approach is purchasing and giving away an e-copy of Then The Stars Fall to FIVE winners.
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
Our hearts go out to Brandon for his loss. <3