“When we face pain in relationships our first response is often to sever bonds rather than to maintain commitment.” – Bell Hooks
Author: Kate Sherwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Every relationship leaves something behind. Dumped by his sugar daddy, part-time model Scott Mackenzie somehow ends up owning an abandoned church in rural Ontario. He dreams of using it for gay weddings, even if he’ll never have one of his own.
Joe Sutton is trying to keep his family together after his parents’ deaths. Between the family ranch, his brother’s construction company, and commitments around town, he doesn’t have time for a relationship. But Mackenzie is hard to ignore.
As both men fight their growing attraction, challenges to Mackenzie’s business threaten their relationship. If he can’t make it work, he’ll have to crawl back to the city in defeat. But the only solution involves risking the ranch Joe loves, and each man has to decide how much he’ll sacrifice for the other.
Review: My disclaimer up front is that I am a huge Kate Sherwood fan. She writes great cowboy love stories. This wasn’t one of her best, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. When Scott has the idea to turn a rundown church in Ontario into a destination venue for gay weddings, he has a rich, older boyfriend for support of every kind, including financial. When his boyfriend trades him in for a younger model, Scott decides he needs to go to Ontario and either make it or fail on his own.
The church is in worse shape than he remembered, and his own funds won’t last very long. He hires local contractor Will Sutton to evaluate and estimate the cost of repairs needed to get the church functional. Will brings his twin brother Joe along for the initial walk through because he is afraid of heights and needs Joe to do the high work.
The sparks fly between Joe and Scott immediately. The romance between the two develops quickly and definitely has its sweet and angsty moments. I liked that there was no insta-love between the two men. Joe thought Scott was a shallow city boy and Scott shows his needy, immature side often enough to drive away a lesser man than Joe. Scott considers Joe to be a good old country boy not capable of deep thought. A lot is revealed about Joe that allows the reader to see that there is much more to him than first appears.
Family plays an important role in this book. Joe and Will are trying to keep their family together after the death of their parents. Joe is keeping everyone happy and meeting their needs at the expense of his own life and happiness. When the one family member not living in the area shows up unannounced, all the buried anger, greed and jealousy comes to the surface. At what cost will Joe keep his family’s ranch together? How important is it to him to have a relationship with Scott but also fulfill his responsibilities to his family?
Suddenly everything that has been important in Joe’s life is changing. His siblings are reaching milestones in their lives that will take them out of daily contact with him. He realizes that if he doesn’t want to be alone and lonely, he will have to make some changes. I felt the plans that Scott and Joe are able to put together for younger brother Nick seemed unrealistically fast and, while handy for the plot, they were implausible.
Ms. Sherwood did something that not many romance authors do. She had the characters actually talk to one another instead of through third parties or wondering and driving themselves mad with ideas of the worst that could happen. Joe calling Scott and asking him what was going on was a great move. It showed maturity on both of their parts, as well as a sincere desire to work through whatever they needed to in order to be together.
I have heard through the grapevine that there is a sequel planned. I’m glad. There were a lot of loose ends left at the end of The Fall that I would like to see tied up. I’d also like to read more about the back stories of Scott and Joe. Some of the plot felt forced and glossed over. Hopefully it will be more fully developed in the sequel. Over all, this was a good, sweet read with relatively little angst.