Love Means… Freedom (Farm #3)

Title: Love Means… Freedom (Farm #3)
Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 203 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
The fourth book in the Love Means… series sees an unlikely love happen between rich boy Preston and abandoned ex-pig farmer Stone but bland characterisation makes this the weakest story out of the four so far.

THE BLURB

Spurned by his father and driven from his home, Stone Hillyard is struggling to find shelter in the Michigan winter when he lucks upon the horse farm run by Geoff Laughton and his partner Eli. They take him in, warm him up, and give him a job working with their No Boundaries therapy riding program.

A drunk driver left Preston Harding unable to walk, and after months of hard work, his therapist recommends Geoff and Eli’s program. But Preston’s anger and arrogance nearly get him kicked out until Stone intercedes on his behalf, despite Preston’s insults. It’s a small act of kindness that helps open Preston’s eyes.

Stone and Preston will support each other as they face their families’ disapproval and fight old secrets. They’ll learn—sometimes the hard way—just how love can mean freedom for them both.

THE REVIEW

I’ve been looking forward to this, the newest release in the Love Means… series for some time now. I’ve read and enjoyed all the others in the series so far and I couldn’t wait to become immersed in the world of Geoff and Eli’s farm. Starting to read this book was like slipping into comfortable shoes as I soon got drawn into the tale of Preston and Stone. However, I never really connected with their romance in the way that I did in previous books because despite their problems and differences they remained quite bland as characters.

The story begins with a half frozen young man, Stone, who has been thrown out of his hitched ride into the snow in the middle of nowhere. By happy chance he sees a light in the distance and all but collapses when his knocking brings Geoff to the door. Geoff and Eli take pity on Stone, who has been thrown out of his home for being gay, and take him on as a stable hand. Whilst helping with a riding therapy patient Stone meets Preston who has been injured in a car accident and is now fighting his way towards being fit again. Although Preston is attractive, he’s also arrogant and the pair clash from the start. It takes a swallowing of pride for Preston to realise that Stone may be just what he needs.

The story had a very promising initial set up, especially in relation to the character of Preston. He’s rich and spoiled and the total opposite of Stone who has been treated pretty poorly all his life by a uncaring father. Preston also has troubles with his father who is in denial about Preston’s sexuality. The story follows Preston as he realises, through his relationship with Stone, that his life isn’t that bad in comparison. This would have been an interesting concept, had not the change in Preston happened so quickly. We barely see him as the arrogant idiot who feels sorry for himself and thinks the world owes him a favour before he is transformed into someone who suddenly cares about the feelings of others. I thought it a shame that the change happened so soon, because personally I would have found it far more appealing to see Stone and Preston clash a little more before they fall in love.

Stone is essentially a ‘nice guy’. He’s taken a number of knocks in life and worries about being rejected, never wholly sure that the wonderful opportunity he’s been given at Geoff’s farm will last. I felt a great deal of sympathy for Stone, felt sorry for the bad things that had happened to him through no fault of his own and thought him a little wise beyond his years. The scene where he stands up to his father was done well, and marked a turning point in his self-confidence. If I have any complaints it’s that, towards the end of the story, Stone initiates a misunderstanding between the heroes, leading to a separation. This is never my most favourite plot device and in the case of this book it felt unnatural and forced. It didn’t sit well with what had been quite a gradual build up of feelings between the heroes.

One aspect that was handled very well was Preston’s disability. Not just in the way that he feels frustrated about being stuck in a wheelchair, but also the way that other’s treat him as a result. Preston’s determination to walk and his gradual recovery through hard work and sheer force of will was sympathetically shown. I also liked that Preston understands that he has to suffer through the indignity of being carried or the difficulties of performing the simplest of tasks like getting washed and dressed, and thought this was written as a realistic part of Preston’s life without defining him as a person.

Those of you, like me, who have fallen in love with the Love Means… series are bound to snap this one up (if you haven’t already). If you’re new to the series then you can still read this book, although the other couples from the previous books do flit in and out of Stone and Preston’s story, but for the best experience I would recommend that you start with Love Means… No Shame. As for this book, I can recommend it to those looking for a sweet romance with some angst, but not so much that the story is heavy going. I’m not sure whether this is the final Love Means… book, I’m hoping not.

14 comments

  • Jen
    I haven’t started this series as yet but will as soon as I can because you’re pretty high on it.

    The sudden change in a character’s personality without any explanation would annoy me no end as well. 🙁

    I’m surprised by Lilli’s comment about the editing and spelling because usually DSP is not bad in this area, or maybe the books I read didn’t have too many problems.

    Reply
  • Hi Jen, I’ve read “Freedom” a week ago or so and think that your review is spot on although I personally didn’t have any problems connecting with the characters or the romance. I still think that every story is a little better than the one before.

    I absolutely agree with you on Preston’s sudden character development, which was not really believable. But I liked the outcome. 😉
    IMO the misunderstanding Stone initiated later in the story just showed that despite his successful confrontation with his father he was still the insecure and inexperienced young man. Which I think is realistic. Still, I agree that this plot device didn’t work quite as smoothly as others might have or did in the other installments.

    Overall I enjoyed their romance very much and in combination with the special “farm-atmosphere” I was quite satisfied in the end.

    What actually annoyed me to no end was the terrible editing. Too often words missed or were misspelled but the worst were the mixing up of the protags’ names which threw me out of the story two or three times at least. Easy to fix, one should think, but I got the feeling nobody cared to at least proofread the story, not to mention some “real” editing. Something I find hard to accept when my hard earned money is involved.

    Apart from that I’m looking forward to the next installment which is in the making, according to the author’s homepage. The protags will be Raine, Geoff’s best friend from “No shame”, and Jonah, a brother of Eli’s. Sounds good, I think. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Lilli
      I have to admit that I didn’t notice any mistakes in the editing – which is strange because I usually do. How odd.

      I’m really looking forward to the next book. I didn’t know who the heroes of the next book were going to be (or if there was going to be another book). Thanks for filling me in :).

      Reply
  • Hi, Jen! I haven’t read them either. I guess I should start with Love Means Courage? I have been curious to try them.

    Great review! I had to nod in recognition when you mentioned Preston’s character evolution happening way too fast. I run across this again and again in our genre — some result rushed into action when it should have been developed more slowly and carefully.

    Reply
    • Hi Val
      Love Means…No Shame is technically the first in the series but the second book Love Means…Courage is a prequel, so you could read that first if you like. I read the series in numerical order because I hate reading a series in the wrong order!

      Reply
  • Hi TJ

    I’m glad our feelings correspond with this book :). Yes, there was quite a lot of angst, but I like that in my m/m books.

    I think that reading Love Means… Courage first is probably a sensible way of approaching the series as that is the right chronological order.

    Reply
  • I will definitely be getting and reading this one. I’ve enjoyed the series so far and even if it’s only to see Geoff and Eli again. 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Good review. I see that you had the same experience with this book as I did. I really liked the previous stories, but something in this one fell a little short for me too. I never really connected with the Stone and Preston, although there was real potential there.

    I think you may be right in that part of it was Preston’s change from arrogant to loving and kind coming too early in the story. But I also felt that there was just a little too much angst with Preston’s disability and Stone’s abusive past, and seemingly multiple issues.

    BTW, I actually read Love Means Courage first by mistake) and it ended up a good thing since that one is Len and Cliff’s story, which chronically comes first.

    Reply

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