Author: Nic Starr
Pages/Word Count: 159 Pages
At a Glance: All in all, Rustic Memory is a lovely story of healing and second chances that needed just a bit more page time to make it complete.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Tyler Samuels had his reasons for leaving the country town where he grew up. He moved to the city, established a home and a career, and found love. Now Ty is in his early thirties, and as his life takes another tragic turn, he finds himself returning to the place he first ran from.
Mac McGrath has lived in Armidale all his life. He loves his family and his job as an electrician, running the family business. The only thing missing in his life is a relationship. When Ty, his teenage crush, arrives back in town, maybe he has found someone to love at last.
What starts as friends with benefits quickly turns to more for Mac, but Ty will need to let go of his memories if he is to learn to love again. But can Mac wait that long?
Review: Rustic Memory, the second in Nic Starr’s Rustic series, began so well. Once again we visited the small town of Armidale, where life is slow and friendships run deep—so do memories. Tyler Samuels remembers very few good things about his past—rather it is a time filled with pain and loss. Losing two men he has loved not only makes Ty gun shy, it shrouds his loving heart behind a brick wall where no man will ever have the chance to hurt him again.
Mac McGrath has always harbored a crush on Tyler Samuels. From the time they were teenagers, Mac loved Ty from afar and little has changed in the intervening years since Tyler left their town. Now that he is back, Mac is determined to break the hold on Ty’s heart and show him that love is all about living in the moment and not in the past. When the hotel/bar Tyler owns needs electrical work, Mac steps up to do the job and hopefully win Tyler’s heart.
Picking up from where the first in this series left off, it is so lovely to be back in this sweet town where everyone seems to know each other’s business and is often cheering on the underdog—in this case, Tyler. Life has dealt him a terrible hand thus far, and so it’s completely understandable that he has sworn off any more relationships even though the notion is impractical, to say the least. You see, Tyler is a young man still—somewhere in his thirties and so very wounded by the loss of his partner, Nicholas. Couple that loss with the death of the first love of his life, at the tender age of eighteen, and you can handily see why Tyler is determined never to open himself to the torture of losing another person he loves.
Mac doesn’t know about Nicholas, and hoping Tyler has put the past behind him, he pushes against Tyler’s stubborn stance only to be rebuffed over and over again. Yes, Tyler would love to have a “friends with benefits” relationship, but more than once Mac feels angered and humiliated when Tyler treats him as just an acquaintance and little else. This dynamic between the two men played out so well in this story. The slow burning need for Mac that gripped Tyler at the most surprising of times makes for a tense storyline that keeps the reader involved and rooting for Mac to succeed. Honestly, there was little not to love about Mac, and the way Tyler treated him was really reprehensible. Had author Nic Starr not made sure to give us a window into Tyler’s pain and suffering over the loss of two men he had loved, the character would have come off as an offensive and egotistical ass.
Instead, we are privy to Tyler’s pain, which prompts tender feelings for both Ty and Mac. As they grapple with trying to make their sexy, more than friends relationship work, the reader is on tenterhooks, wondering if they will ever work things out and find a happy-ever-after with each other. The story was on a great trajectory, both entertaining and detailed, with glimpses of the past woven in until the last quarter of the novel where I felt the story began to falter.
I am not sure if it was a desire to finally let Mac off the hook or the need for Tyler to man up and make some decisions that included recognizing Mac’s needs as well as his own, but the story took a bizarre turn with Tyler leaving town and then returning to tell Mac they were definitely finished…or were they? The 360 that happened near the end of this novel was unexpected and, I felt, given short shrift in the end. Too much change in too little time made the ending of this realistic novel simply too easy and now slightly unbelievable. While the events that led up to the end were exciting and definitely warranted a change in Tyler’s demeanor, the abbreviated time frame in which Ty suddenly realized what he needed to do ultimately hurt the storyline overall. I so wish this talented author had given it just a few more chapters—a bit more time for us to see Ty grappling with it all, which would have made the finish of this story just as rich as the rest of it.
All in all, Rustic Memory is a lovely story of healing and second chances that needed just a bit more page time to make it complete. Even with the contrived ending, you cannot help but fall in love with the characters author Nic Starr creates.
You can buy Rustic Memory here: