A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A decent read about two men who meet again after a difficult time in their lives that had several issues for me.
This review contains what could be considered spoilers
Lucas Reed is a Cleveland advertising executive who returns to his southern hometown to deal with the sudden death of his estranged homophobic father. There, he unexpectedly encounters Rogan James, the former high school bully and now local deputy chief of police who had once made Lucas’s life miserable.
Reacquainted 12 years later, the two finally acknowledge a long held powerful physical attraction that quickly evolves into an even stronger emotional connection
But all this becomes secondary when a local reporter’s secret obsession for Rogan threatens not only the end of their newly found love, but their very lives.
Home is the first published work by this author, and while I thought it was a decent first effort overall — I felt the writing was generally technically good — it’s not flawless. And I really wanted to love this story as it has a plot device that I adore: reunions, especially of two people who didn’t necessarily get along before. Unfortunately, however, several issues I had with it proved disappointing and prevented me from rating it higher than I did.
The story opens with Lucas having returned from Cleveland to his small Tennessee hometown and receiving mourners at the viewing of his recently-deceased father, the same homophobic and ultra-religious father who turned away from him five years earlier when he came out. There he runs into Rogan, the man who made his high school years hell with taunting and bullying even while starring in his late-night fantasies. It’s been twelve years since they last saw each other; Rogan is now the town’s deputy chief of police and surprisingly wants to make amends for how he acted as a teen. Taking Rogan up on the offer to spend time together and help fix up Lucas’s dad’s house for sale, he soon learns Rogan is gay and has been in love with Lucas for a long time. Giving in to the attraction and feelings they have for each other, they enter into an easy relationship until another former classmate of theirs takes his obsession with Rogan to a dangerous level. Add to that the polite snubbery of the small-town Baptists and Rogan’s co-workers when they find out about the relationship, and Lucas and Rogan must consider what their future is in their hometown.
The novel takes places over the course of a little over a year — the majority of it in the first several weeks of their reunion — and narration is offered in third-person mostly from our two protags, but we also get a little bit of POV from the baddie and a teensy amount from a fellow cop/friend of our heroes. The plot is generally credible but fairly predictable, with few surprises even with the stalker part (in fact, I found that to be the weakest part of the book). It’s almost gentle in that there isn’t a lot of action or terrible things that happen to Lucas and Rogan, making it more character and emotion driven. Related to this, I found some of the emotions of the book a bit much at times and falling in three categories: overly sweet, over-the-top sentimental, and melodramatic.
I thought both protags were likeable and well-developed. On the negative, however, they seem a bit too perfect: both are very good at their chosen careers, are wealthy, have multiple talents, and are handsome and built (including “down there”). Both have friends and seem to have little trouble getting through life, at least until they are outed to their community, and even then, it isn’t terrible. They don’t seem to have any faults.
Regarding their physical attributes, I’d just once love to read about a hero with either an average or even small penis. Rogan packs a torpedo in his briefs and it must have magical powers because everything Rogan does is the [insert superlative here] for Lucas: he shoots the farthest, he comes the hardest, he feels the fullest and best with Rogan inside him. Lucas rarely bottoms, but his first smexxin session with hung-like-a-horse Rogan, who has never been with a man before, takes him to a place “surely only gods and people on their way to heaven could ever experience:”
Lucas was close to losing control and plunging into a state of raw, electric, blinding, passion that existed only for the jackhammer now slamming harder and stronger and more emphatically with each thrust inside him. He had never, and he meant never, been fucked like this. Rogan was touching places he didn’t know existed. Sure, he’d bottomed a few times before but never with someone hung this big and never with someone this skilled, and certainly never with someone for whom he had such strong feelings.
Another thing that bothered me was the insta-love on Lucas’s part. Rogan I could understand — he’s had sixteen years to come to terms with his feelings — but Lucas went from thinking of Rogan as “biggest asshole he had ever known in his thirty years of living” to loving him forty-eight hours later. I don’t disagree that he had some physical attraction to the man or that Rogan was a complete turnaround personality-wise from when Lucas knew him before, but it was a bit incredible to me.
Lastly, I admit that I am tired of the stalker plot device. Seriously. And here, there is no secret as to who it is as we are told early on through his own POV, and because of this, there is very little suspense, if any, which I often find in stalker plots. My opinion? The author could have left out this aspect of the plot altogether and the novel certainly could have easily stood up on its own without it just fine. Additionally, of all of the characters, I felt his was the most under-developed; we know he’s obsessed, but that’s about it.
Though not without some issues, Home is a decent first effort for this author. I think with some experience and feedback, he could have a good career ahead of him.