Falling Off the Face of the Earth

Title: Falling Off the Face of the Earth
Author: JF Smith
Cover Artist: n/a
Publisher: Self published
Amazon: Buy Link Falling Off The Face Of The Earth
Genre: Contemporary Gay Fiction/Romance
Length: 694KB on Kindle
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: I was initially attracted to this story because of its low price, but despite its predictability I ended up liking it much more than I expected.

Blurb:

After his big-shot life in New York tragically falls apart, James Montgomery returns to his small hometown in south Georgia a defeated and broken man. All he has left is his mother to help him heal and regain his confidence before he’s ready to get back out and re-conquer the world.

But being big-city gay in a small southern town has its own challenges. In addition to coming to grips with what happened in New York, his hometown of Lawder throws its own curveballs at him. James is confronted with a bitter enemy from his school days, and frustratingly can’t seem to avoid the guy. His mother suddenly wants to expand the family. The one guy James takes a liking to and starts dating has a lot of hang-ups about being gay. And he watches almost helplessly as a new young bully starts to repeat the kind of abuse he suffered during his own school days.

Here where he grew up, the one place he should feel safe, James feels maddeningly off-balance. He starts to think that maybe going home was a bad idea after all. Maybe he’d be better off moving on and really starting over, completely from scratch. Maybe he should walk away from Lawder, just like he walked away from his life in New York.

But maybe, if he’d give it a chance, he’d re-think everything he ever thought he wanted out of life. And maybe what he thought was important, isn’t so important after all. Maybe he could have everything he never realized he wanted, if he just looked around himself for a moment.

Review:

I stumbled upon this one by accident, as one of Amazon recommendations to me. I saw the low price and the length of the book (it is very long, on my kindle it has a little over 9600 locations) and decided that for 99 cents I may as well try it.

In many ways it turned out to be a very predictable story and could have used better editing (such as some annoying typos), but in several other ways I was pleasantly surprised. The characters seemed quite well-drawn and memorable, and James, adjusting to the life in his home town and trying to get over traumatic events that happened to him in New York, was overall a sympathetic character. I wished more than once that some good editor would have cut the repetitive parts about James feeling like an outsider in anything that is taking place in the town of Lawder, because trust me, I got it after the first ten times he said it. However, despite what I just wrote, overall I did not end up wanting to slap James, quite the contrary. Maybe because after an initial period of time, he does not spend pages and pages telling us that he feels like outsider. Yes, those feelings do overwhelm him sometimes (okay, often) after he actually tries to fit in, or after he actually does things with his friends, or helping his mother with his extended family, for example, but the angst, even if it is repetitive sometimes, is not too long a page chunk at a time and it usually mixed in with something happening. I liked that James tried and tried hard, and that his efforts eventually succeeded.

And it was actually quite a pleasure to read about James forming friendships with local guys and them helping him as well. I was especially interested to read about James’ friendship with Brick. I would characterize their relationship as one step forward and two steps back, considering that they did not have the best past behind them. This relationship was actually another interesting development of a very familiar trope to me. I am not sure if I liked that Brick’s change of heart and character improvement was mostly told rather than shown because it happened before James returned to town, however it was extremely interesting to see how James sees New Brick versus Brick of his school days and how he notices all the differences. I really, really loved what we saw as Brick of today — insecure, regretful, and at the same time really changed man, who treats people around him well and actually has enough dignity to insist on the same treatment back.

Some of the secondary characters were also lovely. I loved James’ friendship with Cory, even if the story line could have been handled with more subtlety in my opinion. And James’ mother stole my heart from the first time she appeared on page.

In short it is what I would call a small town romance, with a lot of good people all around and the character getting one big happy family at the end. As a New Yorker, I did not care for the rather heavy contrast between good people in small town versus shallow people in New York in James’ thoughts, but you know how sometimes you want that Awwwww feeling at the end of the story? This one will surely provide it and with interesting characters. I enjoyed James and Brick’s journeys.

Recommended

13 comments

  • Of course I had to rush off and read Raine’s review after your comments (I had not yet read it) – fascinating. A must miss for me, I think.

    I completely missed Exposure reviewed here, alas. Oh, I also read Jamie Scofield’s Brushback. It showed up in the “People Who Read This Work Also Read” column for this book. I was undecided but once again saw your positive review and picked it up (as another $.99 read, I felt it was a no-brainer). I really enjoyed this one, too, although I was disappointed that a sequel hasn’t been published yet!

    ‘Night.

    Reply
    • Very wise choice :). I am so glad you liked Brushback. I recently read a story where, oh wonder of wonders lawyer actually prepares his witnesses before going to trial. I was shocked lol. Review will be coming eventually.

      Reply
  • Hi Sirius, I picked this up yesterday after reading your review and really enjoyed it. Brick was a lovely character. I enjoyed how he was described from James’ POV as not being a physically perfect specimen (I get tired of the same old hot bodies and washboard abs, even if I do read this stuff for escapism) and how James’ perspective gradually changed over the course of the book as they became closer. The secondary characters were wonderful – I liked how down to earth James’ mother was and the whole business with her pronunciation of Jesus’ name and James’ reaction to it. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Reply
    • I am so glad that you enjoyed it Pea. Yes, I get tired of physically perfect specimen, even though I of course also read this stuff to escape. I had been seeing more disabled protagonists lately, but unfortunately still not enough regular looking guys for me. I am not asking authors to make them revolting in looks, but seriously nobody will buy the book where both guys are regular guys? Jack and Sutton from Whistling in the Dark seemed pretty regular to me, some guys from Kate McMurray stories I remember as regular looking.

      I need to share right now I am reading the book for review, where not only one of guys is godly looking (he is not God, he is just a werewolf), but he is apologizing to another guy for the length of his dick. – I am not kidding. Have you ever met a dick which is four pounds and twenty two inches lol? For me this is the stuff from horror movies lol and no the book is not horror.

      Sorry, it is very easy to let me start ranting so I will shut up now.

      Again, I am happy you liked the book and thanks for commenting Pea.

      Reply
      • Oh, and I also really appreciated that this book focused on the development of the relationship and romance rather than sex, sex, sex. I’ve reached the point lately where I just skip over most of the naughty stuff – unless it’s really well integrated into the storyline and actually furthers the development of the relationship between the protagonists. (And regarding that unfortunate werewolf – ewwww. How…unattractive…)

        It’s funny you should mention Whistling in the Dark. That’s one of the very first m/m books I read, and I just downloaded it from my archive a couple days ago thinking I would read it again.

        (Oh, and on a final note, I was desperately looking for something readable the other night and flipped through your Amazon reviews. I picked up Exposure and liked it – although again our hero was still too, too attractive – I particularly liked the way the serious issue in the book was handled.)

        Reply
        • Oh I reached that point long time ago lol, I mean not that I do not appreciate a beatiful hot sex scene, as long as it does what you described, but when I just started reading mm, I was so so irritated by the books which had say 75 sex scenes and very little plot and characterization. My irritation turned into avoidance of books with mostly sex lol. I have read quite a few authors who know how to do both by now, but if I have to choose between plot, characters (chemistry is a must of course) and sex, I will always choose plot and characters. In other words give me Tamara Allen’s and Ann Sommerville books at any time, you know?
          Give me Wingmen and I am one happy reader. But at the same time I really really appreciated how Urban and Roux slowly increased the amount of time Ty and Zane spend making love and that for me only enhanced the story. So yeah, looks like our tastes are quite similar 🙂
          I totally agree that this book focused on development of the relationship and I loved it too.

          Oh, I am flattered that you looked for something to read by looking at my reviews, I just have to note that I discovered Exposure because of great review Wave did here. 🙂

          Oh and I just have to warn you, even though Raine wrote an awesome awesome review of In the wings, I remember you mentioning that you also work in legal world. Stay away from that book, stay away.

          That book has a very erm interesting definition of what “self-defense” is, so interesting that head desking that I was going to do just did not feel enough to express my frustration.

          Thanks Pea, it is fun talking to you.

          Reply
          • Oh dear. I hope my words do not sound as if I am contradicting Raine’s review, I totally agree with her, I am just saying that as somebody in legal profession, it is pretty much a given you may have much stronger reaction than other people, at least I did.

            Reply
  • Wow you get much better Amazon recommendations than me, all I have are thirty or more Stormy Glenns and I’ve only ever bought one of hers ever.

    After your thoughtful review, I have to confess the price of this is a huge turn on……so very broke. I’m going to read extract but what the hell I think this is worth a try anyway. Sometimes meandering can work and I really like small town settings.

    Thanks very much Sirius.

    Reply
    • LOL. I am not quite happy with my long list of recommendations either. Once in a while (once every month or two) I buy het romance based on Dear author recommendations and Amazon gives me probably twenty times more than what I bought het romance recommendations for months after. No, what I meant is that I sometimes go back to the books I purchased from Amazon and loved and look through “customers who bought this one, also bought these”. This way I get much more useful recommendations often enough, you know?

      I definitely think that this book is worth trying, please let me know what you thought Raine 🙂

      Reply
  • Well, for once, we completely agree, lol. I thought that for self-published book, this one was pretty well written, though, yes, the editor would have made it even better. There were some clumsy POV changes, if I remember well, but the overall impression was positive. The pot-smoking chief of police (Jerry?) and the situation with Jesus “the illegal” were some of the touches I really liked about this book. Not to mention James’ realistic first reaction to Brick. I hope we’ll see more from this author.

    Reply
    • Oh God I loved Jerry, yes and definitely agree about James’ first reaction to Brick as well. I hope we’ll see more from this author as well. Thanks for commenting LadyM.

      Reply

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