A guest review by Jenre
It was nice to revisit some well loved characters but I wasn’t engaged by the romantic pairing.
Raine Baumer is living the party life in Chicago, indulging in short relationships with little emotional commitment. But after he’s severely injured in a gay bashing, close friend Geoff arrives to take him to the country to recuperate. There Geoff and his partner Eli treat him like part of the family, and Raine meets Jonah, Eli’s brother, who is exploring life in the world outside his Amish community.
Jonah and Raine’s mutual attraction draws them together, but they may not have a chance to explore it. Jonah’s father is making ultimatums, and the police believe that the attack on Raine may not have been as random as it initially appeared. Raine and Jonah will have to face what they fear most in order to have any chance at a life together.
This fifth book in the Love Means… series moves its focus onto Geoff’s friend Raine, who happily lives the wild life in Chicago. When he is attacked during a gay pride parade, Geoff brings Raine to the farm to recover. Here Raine meets Jonah, Eli’s brother who is visiting during his year away from the Amish Community. It isn’t long before the pair form an attachment, but trouble is on the horizon in the form of Raine’s attacker who seems to be tracking him.
I’ve enjoyed the Love Means… series a great deal, especially the first three books, and as a result I’d been looking forward to Raine’s story. I’d liked Raine in the past books. He’s a city boy through and through who loves living the high life and not being tied down so I liked the idea of him finding his true love.
The story begins well as we see Raine out and about with his friends during the pride event. The excitement and colour of the parade was interesting to read and Raine’s friendships with the older gay men were nicely shown. The attack on Raine was realistic without being too gratuitous. In fact the whole recovery and the aftermath of the attack on Raine was sympathetically handled and one of the better parts of the book. I felt very sorry for Raine and understood how traumatised he was by the event, and yet also determined that it didn’t ruin his life.
Things started to go downhill a little for me. once Raine gets to the farm. Some of this is because I found Jonah to be a very bland character. When we first meet Jonah, he comes across as a man who wants to please his family, but also needs to see the outside world away from the community. Jonah is at first distressed to find that his brother is a “sodomite” and I hoped for a story in which Jonah struggles with the teachings of the Community when faced with the obvious love that Geoff and Eli have for each other. I was disappointed to find that everything was resolved very quickly and within a few days Jonah has come to realise he is gay too and fallen in love with Raine. This was all so sudden, it felt forced and unrealistic. Jonah and Raine then spend the rest of the book being overly sweet and loving towards each other, thus removing any romantic or emotional tension in the relationship. Jonah’s character is defined by his innocence and sweet nature and if you love characters like this then you will be very pleased with him. I just found him a little dull. Raine too has a complete personality change from the previous books and within a day of meeting Jonah has cast off his (in my opinion, more interesting and fun) high life loving personality in favour of settling down with Jonah.
I know that easily resolved tension and sweet and tender loving is a trademark of Andrew Grey’s writing, and it honestly hasn’t bothered me with the previous books in the series. This book just pushed my ‘too sweet’ button and I lost interest in the couple and their story. Having said that, if you like books like this and are looking for a very sweet romance with lovely characters then this book will be for you.
It will be interesting to see whether Andrew Grey has any more books planned for the series. There was one character who was introduced in this book who may possibly be on hand for another hero, but I personally think that maybe the series has run its course. They are becoming remarkably similar in story right down to the ‘will they stay together or separate?’ plot, the forced separation towards the end, and the theme of the farm being a safe haven for gay men. Mind you, this may be what the fans of the series want, which is fair enough. But, I’m digressing now!
Overall, the quality of writing and the description of life on the farm were all very good, as was the interesting and dramatic opening. I liked revisiting the characters of Eli and Geoff and it was particularly nice to see Eli playing the protective older brother role. However, as the story continued the sweet romance coupled with bland characterisation meant that my attention wandered. Fans of the series, and of the tension free romance that characterises many of Andrew Grey’s books, will probably love it.