Author: Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance
Length: Novella (108 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A cheesemaker who’s also a lawyer and a sheriff who’s also a lieutenant with the National Guard find something with each other that’s worth making concessions to in this soft-spoken romance story.
The Blurb: Sheriff Grady Sullivan returns to Canyon County, Idaho, after his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. He’s determined to restore discipline, but he soon finds himself fighting for his job. The bright spot in his life is kindred soul Edward Clayton. But Edward isn’t just raising dairy cows, and Grady is soon pulled into Edward’s Underground Railroad for illegal kids.
As noble as Edward’s work is, it’s illegal, and Grady is suddenly faced with losing everything he’s worked for and everything that matters to him as he’s forced to choose between Edward and the work that has always defined him.
The Review: Sheriff Grady Sullivan has left his department in good order when he was commandeered with his Army National Guard Unit – which consisted mostly of his own deputies, or so it seems – to Afghanistan. Now he’s back, and he finds that the old leeway is prevailing again. What’s more, his temporary replacement, Barry, refuses to surrender the sheriff’s desk and pushes through a claim for a new election, to be held two weeks from now.
Grady is tired. He has fought for his country – and gladly so – for four years only to return and find himself on a different battleground yet again. He doesn’t feel like carrying through with an election campaign, and he doesn’t care much for politics. What he cares for, though, is upholding the law and fulfilling his oath to protect the safety and security of the people in his county. On a completely different note, Grady finds himself also tired of living alone. He knows exactly what he wants in a partner, and Edward Clayton, a former lawyer and new dairy farmer, looks like his perfect match. Putting out some feelers for Edward, Grady learns to his delight that the interest is mutual. But things aren’t quite as golden as they seem. For one, Edward is an out and proud San Franciscan while Grady, although not exactly in the closet, tends to be careful about his sexuality. For another thing, Edward tends to see the law as subject to interpretation, at least when it comes to help illegal immigrant children. Both men have to rethink their positions in order to find what they both soon come to place before anything else in their lives: a working, lasting relationship with each other.
I liked the way Grady and Edward complemeted each other. The common ground they started from, their shared love of books, made their relationship more solid. Being no spring chickens, they went about it in a very conscious way, taking their time in getting to know each other despite the attraction which is there from the very beginning.
This is reflected in the description of sex scenes, which are fade to black without exception. Yet there is more than a little eroticism, and the way the two men pay attention to each other is also marked by lovingly described details, like Grady’s reaction to Edward’s pink clawfooted bathtub, or that Edward is ready to make concessions to Grady’s perceived need for keeping their relationship under the radar. Grady has this endearing habit of stowing away good memories for savoring them later. He is desperate for making it work with Edward and yet denies himself to hope for a future together, going about it the pessimistic way. We don’t get Edward’s point of view, but from his actions it becomes clear he’s pretty much the opposite. He’s always encouraging without getting pushy, making clear to Grady early on he’s interested, but giving Grady time to make up his mind. Both were absolutely believable and grew on me very fast
The characterizations in this book are excellent down to the secondary cast. Barry, Grady’s adversary, would have been easy to mess up into a mean homophobic redneck. Instead, he is well – rounded, an ambitious man full of his own importance, levelheaded enough to make a serious opponent, but smug enough that he fails to realize when he goes over the top. Grady’s deputies and fellow Army National Guard soldiers were real men with real problems, and the author had me almost in tears over Valentina, one of Edward’s illegal immigrants, who was as deluded, egoistic and vain as only a teenager can be.
This was a very well – written story about two men who, after deciding that they want to be together, work together to make it work. It had angst, but not too much, some funny scenes which had me laughing out loud, and some fast-paced action. I greatly enjoyed it and was reluctant to leave Grady and Edward behind.
P.S. I think the cover art on this one is worth extra mentioning, since this is one of the rare books where the cover art actually reflects the main characters perfectly. And isn’t it simply delicious?