Shying Away by Kate Sherwood

Title: Shying Away
Author: Kate Sherwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length:  Novel (240 pgs)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Kassa

Summary Review: Rich playboy is reformed by an innocent virgin.

THE BLURB:

Quinn Donahue will do anyone once, so when Aaron Miller spots Quinn making his moves in a Vancouver gay bar, Aaron thinks he’s found just the guy to relieve him of his unwanted virginity. Quinn, however, has apparently decided to make an exception to his usual open-bed policy. He may be an unrepentant connoisseur of one-night stands, but he’s not going to disappoint a sweet kid like Aaron by giving him a hot night and then leaving while the sheets are still warm.

After Quinn takes a job at Aaron’s family horse farm, Aaron spots both the demons and the decency that drive Quinn’s frequent brush-offs, and it makes Aaron want him even more. But Quinn is determined that Aaron won’t go home with a man who doesn’t deserve him, so he starts sending likely candidates Aaron’s way. It takes a grim act of sacrifice for Aaron to realize exactly why Quinn’s been so skittish, and he’ll have to keep a firm grip on the man of his dreams to keep Quinn from shying away.

THE REVIEW:

I’ve come to expect a lot of internal conflict and a slower pace from Sherwood’s stories and Shying Away fits that description very well. The characters spend most of the time with little to no reason for being apart other than emotional fear and chaos. The pace is pretty slow as the characters have no external conflict and the internal source drags out. This isn’t bad usually but since the characters can’t rely on sex scenes or sadly much sexual tension the story starts to drag. Once they get together things aren’t actually much better and eventually I became pretty bored as the story just kept going without any real interest.

The plot reminds me of classic m/f romances with the charismatic playboy running from a painful past (Quinn) who meets the innocent virgin that’s determined to have more than just sex (Aaron). Quinn may want Aaron but Quinn thinks he’s too jaded and likes his anonymous sex and alcohol too much to get involved with virginal Aaron. Aaron on the other hand wants Quinn and throws himself at Quinn at every opportunity. Add in Aaron’s family who are completely supportive of the relationship, a few dark secrets from Quinn’s past and the rest of the story is made up of introspection and mental musings.

Since the plot is so character driven, it’s important that the main men engage the reader and hold your interest. Both Quinn and Aaron are decently developed and stay true to their characterization for the most part. Unfortunately they just weren’t very exciting or fresh. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at the start of the story but it does wear over the course as the same repetitive arguments are given time and time again. You start to wonder exactly why these two aren’t having sex yet, especially since Aaron’s family makes a point to continually throw the two men together and make their acceptance clear. The mental angst and inferiority complex only go so far and then the story definitely drags.

Unfortunately once the two men get together things don’t really pick up. Almost immediately there’s a twist with Quinn’s past and family thrown in to keep the emotional problems going. These add a slight bit of interest yet they’re easily resolved and unfortunately don’t add more complexity to Quinn’s personality. He has a lot of shame and guilt, not all of which makes sense and it’s pretty late in the story to add such dynamics. Especially considering they offer no new angles to the main romance either. They’re likely meant to give Quinn depth and offer the reasons for his dependence on anonymous hookups and alcohol but they really aren’t handled in such a way as to do that.

The writing and pacing is pretty typical of Sherwood stories – if you’ve read any other books you know internal angst tends to dominate – but the lack of any other focus really hurts the pacing here. There is very little sex, which again isn’t bad, but there is very little to break up the constant repetitive introspection and frankly, whining. There is an attempt to bring the setting to life with the day to day work on the horse farm but I never became engaged or very interested in it. The descriptions feel muted and forgettable instead of vivid and eye catching. Towards the end of the book when there are several sex scenes to show the happy ending for the couple, but I didn’t really care at that point and the story had already lost me.

Perhaps for another reader this story could really sing and satisfy. It’s not very innovative but often readers like the comfort in familiar tropes and themes. This is a very popular idea (the playboy and the virgin) so those that particularly like that idea may like this. Unfortunately it just didn’t work for me but I’ll still be looking for what else Sherwood does.

20 comments

  • I very much enjoyed this story, though I do admit that it waas rather slower-paced than many M/M stories.

    I found the MCs likeable and engaging.

    I do have to admit that the last portion of the story, with Quinn’s family, did feel a little tacked-on, but I assumed it was meant to introduce those characters for a purpose. Possibly a sequel of some sort? Or prequel? *shrugs*

    Overall, if I were reviewing the book, I’d give it a solid 3.75 just because I really do enjoy angst (shocking, I know :P).

    ~Tis

    Reply
  • Heh I enjoyed this one a lot too Kassa, to each their own indeed :). Tomorrow I will be in your position I think, book that I am reviewing bored me silly and it mostly has five star reviews on Amazon (yes I now do look but only after my review is completed and cannot influence me :).

    Thanks for your review.

    Reply
    • Yea I looked at the ratings on this one when I got many who said they liked it and seems to have mixed reviews on GR so I know I’m not alone. Glad you enjoyed it though!

      Reply
  • This is funny. I’ve been looking forward to this review since the reviews were so mixed on GR and amazon. I thought “Oh, now I’ll know!” 😆

    Dark Horse is my favorite.However I liked the romance btwn Dan and Justin the most. I never felt like I knew the other guys nor did I understand the atraction between them. I almost got it but always felt I was missing something. It wasn’t until I read the out takes on her site that I GOT it. So… I’m thinking she and I have a disconnect do I’m going to go with the nays on this one. Besides I’ve done the Harlequin thing a while ago, it was fun but not to be repeated, unless in spoofs.

    Thanks for the review and everyones comments. The comments are great and add depth to the review.

    Thanks All!! :sendoutlove:

    Reply
    • Oh I haven’t read the outtakes on her site yet but I do feel like the relationship between Justin and Dan resonated the most. The m/m/m was ok but never the same strength or intensity.

      Glad the review and comments helped!

      Reply
  • This one started good but had a very inconsitent ending/relationship development if I remember correctly…

    To me, none of her recent story live up to the characterization we saw in the dark horse stories. I feel they miss what they were intended to be or is not kept consistent throughout the stories. I love the characters in Dark Horse and have reread those books a few time and they really hold up.

    Love when this author writes about Horses though.

    Reply
    • Oh I agree. I don’t think the author has ever lived up to the original Dark Horse story. I keep trying but not sure.

      I do think this author knows a lot about horses (which figure in most of her books).

      Reply
  • I really liked this book. It was very sweet & I liked both MCs. I thought the slower pace suited the story; nothing felt contrived or prolonged to me. This was my first book by Kate Sherwood & though her menage books aren’t for me, I plan to watch for more by her.

    Reply
    • I’m glad! Clearly several others enjoyed this as well. Though this didn’t work for me I’ll still be looking out for what else the author does as I’ve liked previous books. In fact while m/m/m doesn’t always suit me I really quite liked Sherwood’s .. so go figure!

      I do agree the slower pace suits the story very well. I think the author has a real touch with that.

      Reply
  • I’m in yes :bravo: camp here, I really enjoyed this one. I thought the main characters were well written, and very likable, which perhaps wasn’t the case in Trifecta.

    I think Sherwood does internal angst beautifully. I like the intense focus you get with her work. I really cared about both guys.

    As I am learning we can read the same words and just not get the
    same book! 🙂

    Reply
    • Well you are certainly not alone Raine! Clearly many others really enjoyed this offering as well.

      I do think Sherwood knows internal angst but for me it doesn’t work as well as say Amy Lane’s internal angst. Though I am a fan of angst ridden, emotionally tortured men.

      Have you read Sherwood’s menage work?

      Reply
      • Oh- Danny is probably after Adrien and Vic my favourite hero. Dark Horse is one of my comfort reads, even if I still get a lump in my throat over Justin. 🙁

        I really love Amy Lane’s angst too, but mainly because of her very contemporary edge with words. 🙂

        Reply
  • Kassa, your review matched my impression of the book exactly. I was interested in the beginning & then the book just started to drag. When an entire plot revolves around giving up your virginity & you both not only have strong feelings for each other but the family is pushing you together & even encouraging Quinn in his pursuit, then you start to wonder, what’s the hold up exactly. The repetitive introspection & as you said, whining, got old really fast. I’m amazed to find out that this author writes menages as this was the most conservative, traditional (in a m/f sense) m/m book I’ve read in a while.

    Reply
    • Oh thank god Sara! I was starting to feel like the lone reed out here on this one. Which is ok, sometimes that happens. It is nice to hear that someone else had the same impression about the book so I know it’s not just me.

      I like Sherwood’s writing and recommend her, the menages she writes are much steamier in a lot of ways. Which is perhaps why such a traditional and staid book like this threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting it from her and it didn’t really suit.

      Reply
  • I liked this book a lot. I can’t say it actually sang to me, but it was a very pleasurable read and my first by this author (she seems to like menages and I’m not exactly a fan). I liked both Aaron and Quinn (although I wanted to slap Quinn a few times). The biggest problem I had with the books was Aaron’s family. They, sort of, got on my nerves. On one hand, they were too perfect, on the other – too meddling.

    Reply
    • I can see what you mean about the family and honestly their inclusion is what started me wondering why the two men were apart. If the family hadn’t been pushing SO hard to get the two together I probably would have been more content with the slower pace and internal angst. But when you add in that basically everyone wanted these two together I was left wondering why they weren’t.

      But it is a nice pleasurable read for the right person, you’re correct in that. I’m glad it hit the mark with you.

      Reply
  • See goes to show you everybody does have different opinions because I loved this book. It was sweet and cute. It was a slow romance which I enjoyed because the sex was later in the book, which is why I felt the characters love so much. Quinn was so arrogant and full of himself and when he meet Aaron to find out he hasn’t lost his virginity yet and backed off, I fell for Quinn then. Then to later keep Aaron out of another bad situation, Awww just had my heart pumping. :sendoutlove: I read this story in one sitting and really enjoyed Aaron and Quinn’s journey towards love together.

    Reply
    • Oh good! I’m glad you loved it and if you really enjoy this one, have you read Sherwood’s Dark Horse series? That I really quite enjoyed and it still has all those elements you pointed out.

      Reply

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