Title: Morning Report
Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (216 PDF pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: An interesting and sexy story about a relationship’s strength under pressure.
The Blurb: A decade on from their first kiss, Luke Murray is more in love with Simon every day. Running the Lost Cow ranch for Luke’s parents, they keep their heads down and get along with the locals, even if Luke is known for being a hothead. Then one day they discover the local store owners refuse to serve them.
They’re bewildered until Luke’s mom tells them the new pastor has targeted the couple in his sermons. Suddenly Luke and Simon find themselves alienated from people they called friends, and their ranch comes under a series of attacks. As the town’s hatred and homophobia turns on them, Luke and Simon will face a critical choice: give in to the town’s demands and disappear, or stand and fight for themselves and their love.
The Review: Luke and Simon met in their freshman year of college, when they were assigned as roommates on the first day. Now 10 years later, we meet them on the ranch that they run for Luke’s parents. Their relationship is neither a secret, nor do they flaunt it publicly, preferring to just live their lives. The small town that they call home more or less accepts their presence, in part due to the fact that Luke grew up among them. Then suddenly Luke and Simon find themselves ostracized by the people that they thought were friends. Soon the guys discover the cause of the climate change – the new pastor and his wife have been telling the townsfolk that the “sinners” in their midst must not be tolerated.
So, first let me tell you what the title refers to. Every morning Luke does the ranch accounts, a job he hates, while Simon gets started on the chores that need to be done. Then Simon, who is the ranch foreman, returns to the house to give his “Morning Report” to the boss, Luke. Let’s just say that their activities give a whole new meaning to the word report! While we’re on the subject, I should also tell that there is a lot of of sex in the story, for those readers who like that kind of thing. 😉 The men are very much in love and committed to each other, and are not shy about expressing it, although not publicly – well that is to say not in front of other people. They seem to use sex as a way of communicating and affirming their love – and do so all over the ranch.
It was interesting to see how very differently the two men reacted to the situation. Luke becomes very angry, furious at both the pastor and the residents who are bending to the pastor’s will. But Simon drew into himself, and Luke had no idea why. As things worsen, homophobia drives some of the town’s residents to vandalize the ranch, and threaten Luke and Simon’s business partners. Now, the guys must face the first real test of their relationship in the 10 years they’ve been together. The story is primarily about Luke and Simon’s relationship and how they navigate through the problems thrown at them and I think the author did a good job with this aspect of the story.
That said, I must admit that I kept waiting for something more from the characters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they were one dimensional – they did talk about their feelings, but I don’t feel like I got to really know them. I understood the basics of their motivation, but I kept looking for the subtleties that make a character come to life for me. Again, this may very well just be me and other readers won’t feel the same. Actually, I‘m quite sure that many readers will love the guys and their story. And the book was still quite good despite my feelings.
Overall, although I wanted more from the characters, I found the story to be interesting and believable. Luke and Simon are very sexy, but also imperfect and make plenty of mistakes along the way. The ending is not a complete HEA, but more of a realistic HFN, that should leave readers satisfied.