Title: Love Means…Healing (Farm #4.5)
Author: Andrew Grey
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Love Means… Healing
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 68 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: A charming addition to the Love Means… series which fills in a gap in the story arc by telling us about how Chris and Len get together.
Seven months ago, Len Parker lost his partner of more than twenty years, and he isn’t sure how to feel about his blossoming attraction to Chris, one of his farmhands. Hesitant and still hurt, Len remains aloof and distant until he’s goaded into teaching Chris to ride.
Fresh out of a thirty-year career with the Marines, Chris can explore his sexuality openly for the first time in his life, but what he needs more than anything is peace. He’s convinced Len doesn’t like him until he digs a little deeper, and then, armed with hope, Chris sets out to prove that love can provide the healing he and Len so desperately need.
Those fans of the Love Means series will be glad to see this short novella, I think. It fills in a gap in the overall story by allowing us to see how Len and Chris’ relationship developed. This means that this story doesn’t follow on from the end of the last book, Love Means…No Fear, but rather fits into the Chronological timeline after the end of Love Means…No Shame. I found it rather sweet to see the young Joey, and also Geoff and Eli’s first flush of love again.
I probably wasn’t the only reader who was curious as to how those two got together and especially how Len manages to overcome his grief for Cliff. The story begins just over six months after the death of Cliff. Len has recovered from the first crippling months of grief but he’s still missing Cliff terribly. He’s got to the stage where he’s starting to be able to face the world again and to do this he pays a visit to his and Cliff’s special place. It’s a time of healing for Len, so when he starts to feel an attraction to the new stable hand at the farm, Chris, Len is filled with confusion and guilt. It’s too soon for him to move on with another man, but Chris’ gentle persistence begins to break down some of Len’s barriers.
I have to admit that at first I was a little wary of this story. I loved Len and Cliff in Love Means…Courage, and there was a part of me which didn’t want Len to move on from Cliff. However, I also knew that Len was a still a young man in his forties and deserved a second chance at love. The story takes place over a few months, culminating at Christmas, and the main focus is not just on the romance, but also on how Len begins to pick up the reins of his life and move on. As such the story is mostly Len’s story, and if I have any niggles it’s that I wish I could have got to know Chris a little better too. We find out some about his time in the Marines, and how that has shaped him as a person as well as the long period of self-denial he has enforced upon himself. We also find out a little about a past relationship, but other than that Chris is a bit of a dark horse. That doesn’t mean to say I didn’t like him because I did, in fact his gentleness, understanding and patience with Len was one of the main plus points for me in this book, just that I could have done with knowing more.
In the end, my fears about the romance were unfounded as this is a charming and delightful story. The two men fit each other well and I liked that Chris is a very different personality to Cliff. The relationship moves so slowly, allowing Len to set aside his grief and come to terms with his attraction for Chris, that the pacing worked for me and I never felt that Cliff was being ‘forgotten’about or set aside too soon because that would have cheapened the love that Len felt for Cliff. Instead Chris’ patience and the slower pacing of the plot shows us that he’s a man worthy of Len’s love and I finished the book with a smile on my face for both men.
I also liked the fact that this is a romance containing older men. The way that Len and Chris are products of their past was done well, showing how their age and experience has matured them for the better. It made them more thoughtful characters, less prone to the wilder emotions of youth, and therefore very sympathetic characters to me.
Fans of this series are going to really like this book. It allows us to see how Len and Chris meet whilst also providing a sweetly charming seasonal love story and I would recommend it.