Title: Country
Author: Jeff Mann
Publisher: Lethe Press
Release Date: August 25, 2016
Genre(s): MM Contemporary Romance, Musician, Coming out
Page Count: 399
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Brice Brown sings about loyalty and broken hearts, the earnestness of being a proud Southerner, yet his popular country music lyrics are misdirection because Brice has kept hidden his attraction to men for all his life. But when a former lover–and band member–goes to the press with the truth, Brice finds himself sick of all the lies and returning to the sanctuary of his West Virginian hometown. The neighbors who used to be proud of the “local boy made good” turn on him. His record label cancels contracts, his wife files for divorce, and he finds himself disgraced and despondent.

But then Brice learns from a fan that there is a compound in central West Virginia run by a man who has helped troubled gay youth overcome their self-loathing. Brice takes a chance at redemption and finds the retreat in the woods. The owner, only a few years older than Brice is a kind hearted soul and does not turn him away and offers a friendly ear and comforting words. Conway Twitty once said, “Listen to advice, but follow your heart.” And the man’s nephew, Lucas, who serves as the handyman at the compound is a tempting young man, simmering with resentment at his past, angry at how he sees his future will be. And Brice thinks that Lucas is attracted to him but both men are hurting. Can they rise above the condemnations the world has given them and find something meaningful…together?

I am not a country music fan, but I am a big fan of Jeff Mann’s writing. Country is my fourth book by the author, the previous three I have read before (Fog: A Novel of Desire and Retribution , Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War and Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War ) belong to my favorite books in a gay fiction genre. I read and listened to them, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
If you are looking for an exceptional writing style and unique story-line, and you have never read anything by Jeff Mann before, then he is your man, because he writes books that you’ll never forget, doesn’t matter how they made you feel, they are simply special + he writes the best gay SEX scenes. INCREDIBLY HOT.

Country is different, comparing to the other books by Jeff Mann, it is softer, tender, less provocative, more mainstreamed (?!).
It is a heartbreaking and beautiful love story of two fellow souls, with different backgrounds and different lives who found each other in an extremely complicated situation, and learn to trust, to care and to love each other. But be prepare: this book will make you ANGRY and sad. Because of homophobia and bigots, the main protagonist has to confront. Homophobia that is justified by religion. The worst art EVER. I’ve never imagined Homophobia could exist in this form in one of the most progressed countries regarding LGBT rights. Really really sad.

A short insight into the story:

The time for his outing couldn’t be worse for Brice Brown, a forty year old country star. A new label is eager to release his next CD, his new tour is about to start shortly, and his fans loves him more than ever. The interview of his ex-bass player Zac to one of the most popular country music magazines where Zac tells about his love affair with Brice Brown hits the country music world like a bombshell. From one day to the other a carefully built image of a married country star, his hard-won fortune collapses like a house of cards. From one day to the other, from all beloved and admired Brice Brown becomes the most hated person, the worst sinner of the South. From one day to another he loses everything: his prosperity, his wife, his manager, his fans, and the most worst for him – his career as a singer. To find a piece with himself Brice leaves everything behind, flees Nashville and tabloid reporters by returning to his hometown in West Virginia. Only instead of piece and understandings he finds even more hatred and hostility. He is devastated and drowns his concerns and despair in the alcohol. In this awful situation Brice learns accidentally that deep in the mountains of West Virginia there is a facility for troubled gay youths running by a wealthy gay man.

He accepts an invitation. And as the future will show, this decision is not only the best that he could make, but also is of fateful significance. It is where he meets Lucas, a young nephew of the owner of the facility.

The whole book I would divide in three parts:

The first part is the coming out story and all the sudden consequences Brice has to deal with directly after the news about his homosexuality has been spread.

The second part is his retreat into his hometown to lick his wounds and learn to deal with his new “I”. A very sad and depressing part- fears, hopelessness, despair and solitude prevail it. And a lot of buzz. Alcohol to forget and to escape.

The third part when he meets Lucas. It is my favorite part. I adore it. The romance between Brice and Lucas is so intense, emotional and HOOOOT. The both men, even if they recognized they were gay pretty early in their lives, have never had a relationship with a man, for various reasons.

To see them coming closer and opening to each other, step by step, was the best in the book. Jeff Mann can create a magical atmosphere of intimacy- authentic, intense and compassionate. It reflects in every small detail, in dialogues, in gesticulate, in said and unsaid thoughts. AND Of COURSE in SEX!

My only problem with Country was the narrating style the author chose. To write from the third person’s POV was not totally wrong, though my preferable one is the first person’s POV. What didn’t work for me was the mixture out of two different POVs. I found the thoughts of Brice presented in the first person’s POV (and in the italic font) that popped up now and then, while the whole story was told from the third person’s POV, totally irritating. I had a feeling, the author couldn’t decide what kind of narrating would be the best and decided to use both.

There are many good moments in this books, and a very satisfying ending. Another great book by a very talented author.

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Galley copy of Country provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I'm a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.