Title: Back to You
Author: Chris Scully
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Murder / Mystery
Page Count: 266
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.
Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.
As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.
The setting of Back to You is as much a character as the main characters Alex and Ben. Set in a small town in British Columbia on the infamous Canadian Highway of Tears, where dozens of women and girls disappeared over a 40 year period, there’s a melancholy and sense of dread around the edges. When Alex and Benji were 13, Benji’s 17-yr-old sister Misty Morning disappeared without a trace and shortly thereafter Alex and his sister Janet and mother left town.
20 years later, journalist Alex returns home as his estranged father lays dying of cirrhosis, hoping at best to perhaps get a story out of the experience to pull him out of his writing slump. But when Alex hears – “Didn’t mean to . . .” Dad whispered, his stale breath blowing in my face. “Misty.” – the ground shifts under his feet. Misty’s car has just been discovered in a lake outside town, the police are once again investigating the case and it appears everything is coming to a head – Misty’s disappearance, Alex’s hatred for his father, his unresolved feelings for Ben.
The mystery and suspense of what happened to Misty is what drives the story, with Alex and Ben coming in second. We get Alex’s POV throughout the story, but what Ben actually feels is unclear. Ben’s mother Angela devoted her life to finding out what happened to Misty and that didn’t leave a lot of emotional real estate for Ben to claim. I so wanted to hear Ben’s voice and his reactions and he remained very much a mystery.
The answer to Misty’s disappearance is heart-rending and the big reveal is truly a surprise. Alex’s revelation about his father is poignant as he realizes that the things we think we know as kids aren’t necessarily the way things were:
The truth is a funny thing. Everyone claims to want it, but most of us spend our lives hiding from it. We see what we want to see, who we want to see, because it’s easier. We delude ourselves.
As a suspenseful mystery, Back to You succeeds beautifully, however I felt the book needed Ben’s POV to fully flesh out the second chance romance. 4 stars.
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