Author: Feliz Faber
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Amazon: Buy Link Thorns
Publisher Buy Link
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/ 260 PDF pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary : A complex romance and mystery where the wonderful secondary characters outshone the MCs without even trying.
The Blurb How can love between two men possibly be responsible for a horse’s death during the Kentucky Derby?
Reporter Will Yeats wants to know the truth. Seventeen years ago, a love affair between a jockey and a horse trainer and a tragic accident on the racetrack scandalized the horseracing world. But Nic Pithiviers and Louis Meerow seem to have no desire to set the record straight: they refuse the interview and send attorney Francis LeBon to question Will’s motives.
Francis has a special place in his heart for Nic and Louis, who taught him to take pride in himself as a gay man, and he’ll stop at nothing to protect them from a gossipmongering reporter. However, Francis doesn’t expect the reporter’s honesty and genuine determination to exonerate two men falsely accused… or the growing attraction to Will he feels. While visiting with Nic and Louis at their horse training center in France,
Will uncovers a web of intrigue, secrets, and old lies, and he unwittingly sets a series of perilous events into motion that not only threaten to destroy his budding relationship with Francis, but Nic and Louis’s decades-long commitment as well.
I really liked this novel and thought that the author did an incredible job with the world building and her characters, but a funny thing happened on the way to the HEA – the supporting characters in this story about horse racing (Nic and Louis) were so vibrant, genuine and three dimensional they outshone the MCs by a wide margin and stole the book. The world that Feliz Faber created was so real I could smell the horses who were like secondary characters with distinct personalities; If you love horses you will want to stay in France at La Thillaye.
Will Yates, a 25 year old reporter at the Flag, a monthly print magazine, was given a plum assignment after his initial investigation of an old horseracing scandal raised the hackles of a few people and his editor could smell blood. As indicated in the blurb, Louis Meerow and Nic Pithiviers, a gay jockey and his trainer, had been banned from horse racing after being suspected in the tragic death of a horse during a race almost two decades ago. Strangely, the two men never defended themselves and just accepted their banishment. Will called Nic and Louis to tell them that he was writing a story about the old scandal, and the next thing he knew his editor was served with a C & D order by Francis LeBon, Nic’s and Louis’s lawyer and good friend, who made the moves on him as soon as they met as the attraction between them was immediate. Litigation was never this hot and they ended up between the sheets, heating them up and setting them ablaze.
After a few dates with Francis and with his editor’s and new boyfriend’s approval, Will was soon on his way to France to meet Nic and Louis to write their love story, a dream assignment for any reporter and especially for Will who was promised the cover story if he delivered. But things didn’t seem to be on the up and up when he arrived in France, and the more he talked to his hosts and dug into the old scandal the more Nic and Louis seemed to be hiding something. Then just when he seemed to be getting somewhere after gaining their trust, Francis showed up a week later in full lawyer mode throwing accusations at Will accusing him of betrayal, and it seemed that all the ground Will had gained was lost. Was their romance also over before it had begun?
First the positives: the story was complex, the old mystery was intricate and difficult to disentangle, and Will’s investigation of the scandal was very thorough. The author created a wonderful world around the horse racing industry which appeared to be genuine and so well researched that I had difficulty believing that it was not real. Feliz Faber is a gifted author and her attention to detail as well as an exciting plot made me absolutely love Thorns.
As I said earlier, the two main supporting characters, Nic and Louis, were exciting but there were many others who were well drawn and had definite roles in the book, not just walk-on parts. For example, Mrs. Kim the housekeeper was more than just the help; she had a personality that peeked out at the most unexpected times.Teddy Sampson, the homophobic, irascible, retired reporter who was Will’s first lead in the story was crusty and almost over the top as I would imagine someone from his era to be in terms of his perception of anyone who was not straight. There were many other characters that were so genuine that they made me laugh out loud, including Will’s editor Trevor who was pretentious and hilarious with a gift of language- he was truly unique.
So why didn’t I rate this book 5 stars? My main reason is that I wasn’t entirely convinced about the romance between Francis and Will. I adored Will but Francis, not so much. He was absent for a good portion of the book while Will was in France so there was no interaction and connection between them, not even phone calls, and I couldn’t feel the chemistry between them. And while I had a clear picture of Will and how he felt about Francis and I really loved his characterization, Francis’s feelings for Will weren’t that obvious to me until almost the end of the book. Initially Francis was aloof, inaccessible and all about business except when he and Will had sex, which admittedly was very hot but he was very much the alpha male and was not very demonstrative or vulnerable towards Will. Plus I don’t think he grovelled enough when he apologised and I thought that Will forgave him too quickly – I would have let him suffer for at least a few more days before taking him back. 😀 Also, I would have much preferred it if he showed me his heart rather than his wealth. Obviously this is just my opinion and many of you may feel differently about Francis who was well drawn and very loyal to Nic and Louis, which I liked a lot. Conversely, Louis and Nic were so real and vibrant and loving toward each other that their love was all over the page. Their feelings were so obvious you would have to be blind to miss it and I could see, feel and touch it. What great characters!
I highly recommend this book and I think you will enjoy it because of the depth of all characters, the unusual plot, the genuine French atmosphere which permeated La Thillaye, and the wonderful writing of Feliz Faber.
PS That Reese Dante cover should be framed – it’s absolutely stunning.