Title: Buchanan House
Author: Charley Descoteaux and Alexander Johns (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: January 27th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died, she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie, Nathan, pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn’t far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.
Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings, and over the months leading to opening weekend, Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman, he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach wasn’t trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.
Eric Allen is a thirty-three year old line cook whose world crumbles after the death of his beloved grandmother, who took him in after his disastrous coming out to his family. The story begins with his grandmother’s funeral and Eric’s subsequent spiral into grief with some heavy drinking thrown in as well.
When Nathan, Eric’s best friend since childhood, suggests a trip and takes Eric to a former camp on the Oregon coast it seems like it could be a shot at a new beginning and a place where they could both realize their dreams.
Eric and Nathan pool Eric’s inheritance and some of Nathan’s money and buy the old camp dreaming of re-opening it as a LGBTQ friendly retreat. They rechristen it Buchanan House, named after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” President with a close male friend.
They quickly come to realize that the place, after sitting dormant for a decade, requires more work than they, or their friends, can provide. Eric and Nathan hire local handyman, Tim Tate, to come in and handle the repairs. Though Eric initially finds Tim very attractive, there is no hint of mutual attraction between the two until Eric nearly drowns and Tim saves his life. After Tim’s heroic action, their mutual attraction is made known, and the two begin a relationship.
I’ve only tried one other Charley Descoteaux novel, but I’m beginning to think this author’s writing style is not a good fit for my reading preferences. The blurb drew me in with the anticipation of a hurt/comfort romance. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
While I liked the characters, I didn’t feel like I really got to know them. Ultimately my disappointment stems from the story having a lot of “telling” without a lot of “showing”.
My dissatisfaction in the story may also be because I found the audio a struggle to listen to. Not because of narrator, Alexander Johns’ performance per se, but mainly because I found the sound quality of the audio to be substandard. To me, it sounded like the audio was recorded in a large room without furniture. It made it sound cavernous and left me feeling disconnected from the story.
I also keep going back and forth as to whether or not I liked Johns’ style of narration. I liked his use of character voices, but some were indistinguishable from others. I liked his performance for the most part, but there were times when his performance felt a little flat. Though it was a little shaky, for me, in the beginning, I did feel like the narration quality got better as the audio progressed, which kept me listening, and if it weren’t for the sound quality I can say I would have enjoyed the performance more.
The bottom line is I found it a struggle to get through the story because I never really connected to the characters and didn’t care for the sound quality of the audio.