Title: Taking the Long Way
Author: Max MacGowan
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 12th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 234 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Male escort Rye Bellamy is looking for a way out. Any way out. He’s getting older, and clients are getting more dangerous. If he doesn’t find something better, he knows he won’t survive.
He sees his chance in Marcus Townsend, a functionally blind Army veteran. Marcus, who refuses to accept his condition as immutable, has a shot at seeing a specialist who might be able to help him—but that doctor’s based on the other side of the country.
When Rye and Marcus meet, they realize they can help each other. Marcus can’t drive, but Rye can. Marcus knows what Rye is, but he likes him anyway. In fact, he more than likes him. Driving cross-country with a near stranger is a daunting task, but Rye’s biggest risk is falling for the gentle, stubborn-hearted soldier—and it might already be too late to stop that.
They plan to part ways when they reach their destination, but plans change as the affection between them grows. Now neither wants their journey to end, but continuing means finding a way to bridge the distance between who they were and who they’d like to become.
Take one rent boy, one functionally blind man, add a cross-country road trip, mix with some hot sexy times and enjoy!
I liked the premise, the characters, and most of the story. It lost a little bit of steam for me in the third quarter, but picked up again by the end.
After an IED explosion resulted in Marcus Townsend’s loss of functional eyesight and a platinum plate in his head to keep his brain on the inside, he’s had trouble with coming to terms with what his life is now. After Rye Bellamy, a “sex worker”, saves Marcus from a mugging, Marcus can’t get Rye out of his mind. When Marcus’s doctor suggests a specialist in Atlanta that could possibly help Marcus, he finds Rye and suggests a cross-country road trip. It couldn’t come at a better time for Rye, who’s decided that he and his pimp are no longer compatible, but his pimp doesn’t want to let him go that easily.
“We should do it. Pick up and go,” Marcus said. “You and me.”
Rye gave a startled laugh. “What?”
Marcus could see it now, unfolding behind his eyes. “I have a truck. It hasn’t been driven in years, but my cousin’s an auto mechanic, and he’s kept it maintained. If you have a license, it’s all we’d need.”
“Marcus, wait. I can’t keep up. What are you saying?” Rye unfolded his legs and hitched himself closer to the foot of the bed, nearer to Marcus. “Start over.”
“That’s what I’m saying.” Marcus gestured with both hands. “We both want to get away, don’t we?”
“There’s a doctor in Atlanta I’ve been offered a referral to. Someone who might be able to help me. I had thought there was no way I could make it, but this could work.”
“Why don’t you fly?”
“I can’t take the pressure changes you get on planes at cruising altitude. I get headaches, bad ones.” Marcus waved that impatiently aside. “It could work, Rye. You’ve never traveled, but I’ve got enough experience with that to get us started. We get in the truck, you and me, and hit the road. When we get where we’re going, it’s a blank page for both of us. We can start over.”
He wished he could see Rye’s face clearly. All he could do was guess at the baffled frustration he felt coming off the guy in waves.
Marcus put out one hand and rested it on Rye’s biceps. “You wouldn’t bitch about your problems if I put a gun to your head, and neither would I. But I can read between the lines. You need a fresh start as much as I do. So why not?”
“Marcus…” Rye started. He stopped himself, then began again. “I like you, but you hardly know me, and I barely know you.”
“Yes. That’s why I can ask like this. I wouldn’t be able to if I ever felt you looking at me like you think who I am now comes up short, measured against who I used to be,” Marcus said. “And I know you’re the kind of guy who wants more than what he’s got.”
The story focuses on the journey, both literally and figuratively, for both men.
There’s a point made of Marcus’s sexuality being demi-sexual, which I wasn’t really sure was defined well here. I liked that it’s clear that beyond the understandable “well I’ve never done this with a guy before” jitters, Rye being a man doesn’t really factor into the affection and response Marcus has for him. I liked that a lot.
I especially liked how Marcus never vilifies or condemns Rye for his past. He just accepts him, warts and all.
I liked that Rye, who for all accounts, could have been a very hard character, isn’t. I also liked that he wasn’t some OTT hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Disney character either. He felt real, and his reasons for doing things felt like they could be authentic.
Finally, I really liked that this was dual POV. Getting to see the whole story from both men’s perspective really worked for me.
This is a first novel by Max MacGowan and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their work in the future.