Title: The Hike
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 4, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Romance, Contemporary
Page Count: 206 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Ashley James and Tucker Lee have been friends for years. They are city boys but long for life on the open trail. During a three-hundred-mile hike from the Southern California desert to the mountains around Big Bear Lake, they make some pretty amazing discoveries.
One of those discoveries is love. A love that has been bubbling below the surface for a very long time.
But love isn’t all they find. They also stumble upon a war—a war being waged by Mother Nature and fought tooth and claw around an epidemic of microbes and fury.
With every creature in sight turning against them, can they survive this battle and still hold on to each other? Or will the most horrifying virus known to man lay waste to more than just wildlife this time?
Will it destroy Ash and Tucker too?
Not the strongest or the longest novel by the author, but nonetheless it is a pleasant read. This is a story in two halves; the first half is romantic and reflects the change in relationship between the protagonists as they make their way through the desert. Characterisation is strong as usual, with positive and credible interaction between the old friends, the romanticism is sweet without being cloying and thankfully lacks the “does he/doesn’t he” mechanism that is so prevalent in this type of literature. Time is well spent in the description of the landscape as it changes around them and this complements the personal changes. The change in the landscape marks the change in the story. The second half introduces additional characters, which are interesting and well rounded in their own right. This part of the book raises the tension in terms of things that affect the characters although their relationship is unaffected. This remains realistic only through their long-standing friendship and it is this that carries them through.
The relationship between the principal characters is strong and this is more like a new chapter than anything new between them. The description walks a fine line between inter-personal growth and naïve sentimentality.
There is a steady pace throughout, even when the tension is raised. This is marked by the speed of their journey that is largely unhurried.
There is a clear resolution to the story that ties up the loose ends, but is probably the weakest element of the book, as it is catalogued through an epilogue. This puts their trip very firmly in the past.