Down by the River

downbytheriver185Title: Down by the River
Author: Rob Knight and B.A. Tortuga
Publisher: Torquere
Genre: Contemporary M/M; mystery; interracial romance
Length: Novel (123 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Leslie

IN A NUTSHELL: An unfortunate situation brings old friends Phil and Grant back together after twenty years, but that doesn’t stop them from finally acting on their feelings for each other that have long been hidden.


Phillip doesn’t want to go back to Louisiana. He’s got a good thing going in Las Vegas, with a political career on the rise and a past he’s put behind him. When that past raises its ugly head, though, bringing him full circle, Phil meets up with some people he never expected to see again.

One of those people is his childhood friend, Grant Thibbideaux. Grant is a successful businessman, just as eager to forget their past as Phil is. Some things can’t be hidden forever, and Phil and Grant have to work together to find enough common ground to face their demons. Can they build their friendship from the ashes of what it once was, and maybe find love in the process?


Phil, Grant, and Joe were childhood friends, growing up in the bayou region of Louisiana. Now Phil is an attorney and Las Vegas D.A. with political aspirations. Grant is a successful businessman, still living in Louisiana. And Joe is…in jail. In jail and in trouble, which prompts him to write Phil and Grant, calling in a few favors from the old days. At first Phil just wants to ignore the letter, but then he begins to worry about what type of incriminating evidence Joe might have, so he reluctantly gets in touch with Grant and heads back to Louisiana, by way of Dallas.

Grant meets Phil at the airport and the two old friends are surprised at how happy they are to see each other. Over a Tex-Mex dinner, they catch up on old times and then start hinting to each other about girlfriends…other types of friends…it turns out they are both single, gay, and have had the hots for each other since way back when. Finally, after all these years, they get to act on their feelings.

The trouble with insta-lust is that it gets in the way of getting anything done, especially when the people involved are grabbing at each other and pulling their clothes off approximately every fifteen minutes. I chuckled: they’d get in Grant’s truck and start driving and before you know it, Grant is looking for a secluded turn off or better yet, a cheap motel. They could have had second careers as motel mattress inspectors for southern Louisiana!

In between having sex, Phil would type on his laptop and Grant would make calls on his Blackberry, both trying to deal with the Joe problem. Eventually they visit Joe in prison, realize things are a mess, and make more calls and contacts. As this part of the story unfolded, there would be flashbacks to the time they were teens; bits and pieces of their lives are slowly revealed which gave the story a nice feeling of mystery and suspense.

Unfortunately, after a nice build up to what I expected would be a dramatic finish, things fell apart. The ending was very rushed. Anticipated climatic scenes fell flat and the big question of “Will Phil and Grant find that HEA they both want?” was handled in a very unrealistic way. Yes, it was happy but given who they were and what they had worked so hard to achieve—I felt that the final resolution was not very believable and for me, that wasn’t a satisfying conclusion.

Even so, I’m giving this 4 stars because it has B.A. Tortuga’s signature writing style, which I enjoy; there’s lots of sex but it’s hot and there is a definite chemistry between Phil and Grant (or Shine and Tater, as they call each other); and last, but not least, I am a sucker for “true love in spite of enormous obstacles and time” type stories. Even though twenty years of love and affection have been lost, at least they are together now, and happy. For these reasons, I can mostly ignore the anti-climactic mystery and the moral ambiguity that surrounds the characters. Hey, it’s fiction after all, right?

And, Down by the River made me really curious what a tasso and andouille pizza tastes like. I might have to travel to Louisiana to find out.


  • i loved the premise of the book – but seriously, no moment for the baddie? no negotiation of the hea? the ending came too abruptly for me. altho as a southerner i am used to men especially having nicknames – altho i roll my eyes at ba’s

  • Wave,

    I don’t know if the authors ever referenced where “Shine” came from–or if they did, I don’t remember. Given that Joe, Phil, and Grant were all very poor and living in the swamps of Louisiana, it wouldn’t surprise me that folks had stills and Shine did come from moonshine but I can’t say for sure.

    >>>spoiler ahead<<<

    As for the ending–the fact that they were so poor (and in Phil's case, abused) makes it even more unrealistic that they would just walk away from everything they had worked so hard to achieve in their lives. Yes, true love is important but so it having some meaning and purpose in life, other than having sex! LOL…and 3 or 6 months down the road, when they get tired of having sex every minute of the day, I think they might look at each other and say, "Uh, what do we do now, now that we've walked away from our businesses, careers, political aspirations and all the people we know? What comes next?"

    Maybe somebody should write a sequel to one of these unrealistic HEA stories just to explore what really goes on… 🙂


  • Tam
    I hate nicknames which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Pyromancer more the second time around when the new editor got rid of them. In this case I’m not sure Shine and Tater would do it for me.


    Thsi sounds like a fun book and I think I will get it. But I have a question – was Shine a reference to Moonshine? 🙂 I was in Louisiana about a decade ago and while admittedly my memories of my time in NO are a bit hazy, I don’t recall ever eating a tasso and andouille pizza.

    >> the big question of “Will Phil and Grant find that HEA they both want?” was handled in a very unrealistic way. Yes, it was happy but given who they were and what they had worked so hard to achieve—I felt that the final resolution was not very believable and for me, that wasn’t a satisfying conclusion.< < The problem of the forced HEA raises its head again. I rest my case based on your review. Why can't these books have a more realistic ending like - next time you're in town give me a call? But then they can't be called romances, can they?

  • I was thinking it had potential, although I’ve not read much Tortuga. until I read this “or Shine and Tater, as they call each other”. Screeech. Nope. I just CAN NOT read and enjoy books where they use these “down south” nick names. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing but it just irks me and the names are so damn weird it leaves me focusing on that and not the story.

    Weird quirk I know, but it’s one of mine. 🙂

    • Their nicknames are very much in evidence in this story, so if that is a problem for you it is probably best to stay away. At times I felt like there were four characters when Phil, Grant, Tater and Shine all showed up in the same paragraph. LOL.


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