A guest review by Jenre
Tyler and Dan are heading off on a vacation in this sequel to Wild Raspberries, but life has a way of throwing a wrench into even the best laid plans. All work and no play makes Dan restless and bored, waiting for Tyler to complete a task for his former boss, Cole. The job is an important one, for sure. Tyler is looking for a traitor, responsible for the deaths of several agents. That doesn’t make being ignored any easier to deal with, and Dan wonders if their relationship is strong enough to last through the lull.
When the job finally ends, Dan is more than ready to go with Tyler to see the sights. He expects beaches, mountains, sun and surf. Instead, Dan is thrown headlong into Tyler’s world, where death is a heartbeat away, not a lifetime, and the man he loves is the one dealing it out. Can Dan learn to live with what he finds out, or will he have to make his way back to a life that he ran away from?
Wintergreen is the sequel to Wild Raspberries which I reviewed last week (here). I’d really enjoyed that book and was keen to read this sequel and see how some of the loose ends at the end of the previous book would be tied up. Whilst I still enjoyed this book a great deal, it wasn’t as wonderful as the first book.
At the end of Wild Raspberries, we left our heroes, Dan and Tyler, planning on staying in their isolated cabin over winter in order to spend time with each other and also to plan a long vacation which they intend to take in the spring. As Wintergreen starts it’s the middle of winter. Dan’s jobs have dried up with the end of the harvest and the tourist season and Tyler is beginning to wonder whether they shouldn’t just start to trip early as cabin fever starts to set in. Things suddenly change when Tyler’s ex-boss, Cole, comes to see him and asks him to do a job for him. There’s a rogue agent who is selling secrets to targets which means that three agents have been killed before they can perform the hit on their target. As an outsider, Cole feels that Tyler has the emotional distance to find out who the rogue agent is. Dan isn’t happy about this and becomes increasingly more unhappy as Tyler takes the job and shuts himself away with his computer for hours at a time. Then something happens which threatens both their lives.
The main purpose of this story seems to be to pick up on some of the questions left at the end of the previous book. First and foremost is the question of how well Tyler’s old life as a government hit man will impact on their new life together. This is the main focus of this book and is immediately brought to the forefront of the story in a tense scene where Dan surprises Tyler as he’s shovelling snow and nearly gets a shovel in his face. The ensuing argument is only just cooling down when Tyler hears from Cole saying that they want to meet. The next few chapters are a mix of hot sex, which the two men seem to use to settle all arguments, and tension as the work that Tyler is doing for Cole starts to drive a wedge between them. I found this section quite frustrating at times, mostly because of Dan. For the first time I began to feel that Dan’s youth would cause the break up between them. He’s bored, petulant, demanding and behaves like a spoiled brat. I found myself with a great deal of sympathy for Tyler as he tries to cope with the pressures of dipping back into his old life, exhaustion and worry over the work he is doing and then on top of that dealing with Dan’s increasingly immature behaviour. What also became apparent is that the two men never really resolve their arguments. Instead they use sex as a way of smoothing over the waters, only burying the underlying problems rather than dealing with them openly. It isn’t until later in the book when circumstances force Dan to really understand the nature of Tyler’s old career, when sex is out of the question for a while and they are forced to talk to one another that I felt they were getting anywhere with the relationship. As it was, by the end of the book I began to feel more upbeat that actually they were going to survive in the long run, that their differences were keeping them together rather than forcing them apart.
The other loose end which is tied up in this book relates to Dan’s past. He left home suddenly, unable to stand the thought that his father hates him for being gay. When he finally returns and sees his father for the first time in months, it’s a poignant moment, but one which emphasised how Dan’s immaturity has led to undue suffering for him and his father. I found myself, once again, losing sympathy for Dan as he floundered around unable to make a decision about his life and stick with it. He goes home, but doesn’t want to stay; he wants to be with Tyler, but messes Tyler around so much it’s a wonder Tyler doesn’t lose all hope and just take off without him. In fact it’s a measure of how much Tyler does care for Dan that he sticks around with Dan bounces from crisis to crisis. It certainly made me view him in a more favourable light than from the first book.
Despite my feelings towards Dan in this book, Wintergreen was a still satisfying read. I finished the book happy that the loose ends had been tied, that certain issues had been faced and resolved, and that I could happily see these men off into their HEA. Along the way there is much tension and one very terrifying section which had me on the edge of my seat; lots of arguments, but also lots of times when there is tenderness and loving. I may not have enjoyed this book as much as Wild Raspberries, but Wintergreen was still a great story and I would recommend it to those who have read the first book.