Title: A Place to Run (The Making of a Man #2)
Author: Diane Adams
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 138 PDF pages, 26K word count
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
This review contains what could be considered spoilers
Summary Review: I was disappointed that the characters didn’t seem to grow much beyond the first book.
School’s out and Alex is home, but things aren’t going as smoothly as he hoped. Jared is hesitant about advancing their relationship and fixated on the fact that Alex’s mother doesn’t know he’s gay. When she discovers the truth, her extreme reaction drives Alex back to school early. Jared is stunned. Motivated by his need to protect Alex, Jared begins to question the wisdom of their planning a future together. How will their love flourish when every circumstance makes it seem predestined to fail?
The Making of a Man Series
I reviewed Our December in January here which was about then 15 year old Alex and his boyfriend, 20 year old Jared. A Place to Run, the sequel, is told mainly through flashbacks because in present day the couple had been together for 14 years and the guys were in their thirties. There is a chapter in the beginning of the book with a couple of scenes between Alex and Jared as adults and one at the end, but the story switches after the first chapter to Alex coming home after 5 months at school. The author uses the same technique in both books, the only difference here is that Jared is 21 and Alex is 16 fretting about being away from Jared while his best friend Clark spends his time working with him.
The major conflict in this book centers around Alex’s mother. When Alex returned home Jared had insisted that he tell his mother about his sexual orientation before someone else did. Of course Alex kept promising to do so but never did because he was scared of her reaction, and this came back to bite him in the rear. Alex’s mother’s character was extremely homophobic and she went berserk when she found out that he was gay. She seemed unbalanced and her reaction was volatile. I couldn’t figure out whether she was portrayed this way because she had some sort of mental disorder or if Alex’s sexual orientation was supposed to have pushed her over the edge. According to the story she was a bit of a social climber and Alex was her only hope to move up in the world as she felt his father had failed to fulfill her ambitions to improve her status in the community. Knowing that Alex was gay was probably the death knell to her hopes which probably contributed to her state of mind.
Many other characters were featured in this book, either in walk-on parts or they had a lot of face time. Clark’s character had a major role again although not as big as in Our December, but his mother and Jared’s mother had their own POVs – it seemed to me that everyone’s mother had a POV and chapter or two. There was also Clark’s new girlfriend Stevie with her own problems of an abusive drug addicted mother, who became part of the group and spent time with Alex, Jared and Clark.
My major criticism of the first book, Our December, is the same for A Place to Run – Jared and Alex didn’t have a lot of quality time with each other and it was therefore difficult for me to see them as a couple. In addition, while the 5 year age difference between two men in their thirties is nothing, the level of maturity between 16 and 21 is quite different and I didn’t feel that the author explored their adult relationship in sufficient depth to provide some sort of link between 16 year old and 30 year old Alex. What happened in the intervening years? All I know is that Alex went to MIT, he was now an architect, had spent Christmas in Paris on his own, but there’s not much information about what happened before he and Jared were in their thirties. Jared at 21 seemed much too mature for his age. He heads up a construction business left by his father, he’s trying to keep the company afloat, and while other 21 year olds are out having fun he’s supporting his mother financially. His character appeared to be more consistent with that of someone much older – all work and no fun.
To summarize: Although I liked both protagonists a lot I thought that there was little character development in the book, not enough time was spent to show how Jared and Alex coped with the transition from teenager and young adult to adulthood, too many POVs, too many secondary characters and sub plots which fattened the word count, and IMO the dialogue in some areas was clichéd. This plot was a replay of the previous book with a few minor changes between the characters and not much else, except we get a glimpse of Jared’s backstory and how his realization that he was gay affected him. I didn’t find the book as appealing or engaging as the first one because there was very little that was new or fresh, and the protagonists’ growth was minimal since the story spanned a very short period of Jared’s and Alex’s life between the initial and closing chapters. I’m assuming by the way this story ended that Diane Adams will be writing a series about Alex growing up and new characters will play a part in his future, but I suspect that the books may be similar to this one.
My rating and review are very different from others I have seen on Goodreads where many readers seem to love this book so I would advise you to check out all the other reviews since this is just one person’s opinion. There are a few instances of Alex and Jared kissing and frotting so if you like books without explicit sex then you will love A Place to Run.