Title: Making Home (Bay Valley U #1)
Author: Dev Bentham
Publisher: Loose ID
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 39,000 words
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
In his real life, Manu Contrares makes a decent living as a videographer in New York. But when his mother goes into hospice, he heads home to Bay Valley to help take care of her and ends up back at his first job on the janitorial staff of the local college. It feels like a long step down for a proud Hispanic man.
Chris Hall loves teaching but hates research. That’s becoming a big problem because his third-year faculty review is coming up and if he doesn’t make something happen soon, he’ll be out. He’s spending his nights working in the lab on a Hail Mary attempt to save his job.
When the two men meet, it’s explosive. And complicated. Chris is lily-white and culturally tone-deaf and Manu’s only in town for a short stay. It’s a recipe for heartbreak. Still, the pull between them is too strong for either to ignore. Can they overcome their different backgrounds and somehow surmount the geographical problems, or is this a fling that will leave them both more exhausted and lonely than before?
Emmanuel (“Manu”) Contrares hated his home town, as well as the night janitorial job he had while in college; yet ten years later, he finds himself back home, and back working the same dead-end job. But he’s doing so because his beloved mother is in hospice care and Manu has moved home from NYC to care for her in her last days. Chris Hall is on the tenure track at Bay U and while he loves teaching, he’s hating every moment of his research study on nematode worms. Chris spends most of his time in the research lab, where he meets Manu doing his janitorial rounds.
While I liked the blurb for this story and was intrigued by the plot, this book just does not work for me. Compared to other Dev Bentham books I’ve read and enjoyed (Whistle Blower and Bread, Salt and Wine), Manu and Chris’s character development wasn’t as deep and detailed and I didn’t feel the emotional impact of their story or their sexual relationship.
One of the subplots is the two men’s cultural differences. Granted, Chris does make a stupid assumption when he initially meets Manu and assumes he only speaks Spanish. There are a few references to “clueless gringo” and “It’s a white-guy thing, isn’t it? Thinking that everyone is just like me.” and at one point Manu wonders: “Goddamn. What was it with that man? He always assumed the worst of Manu. Was it because he was Hispanic?” But it seems to me that Chris and Manu have a serious COMMUNICATION PROBLEM that has little to do with differing backgrounds. The only exercise these two get is jumping to conclusions about what the other says. There is a continuing cycle of miscommunication, anger, forgiveness – rinse, lather, repeat – from which neither man tries to break free. I also found it telling that the ending of the story involves a decision that one man makes without talking to the other.
Bottom line: Making Home didn’t work for me, and I give it 3 stars.