Title: Tender Mercies (Men of Lancaster County #2)
Author: Eli Easton and Will Tulin (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 26th 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Eddie Graber’s dream of a sanctuary for rescued farm animals was about to come true when his partner backed out at the last minute. Now Eddie risks losing the 25-acre property in Lancaster County – and all the hopes he held for it – before the project even gets off the ground. He needs help, he needs money, but most importantly, he needs to rediscover the belief in a higher purpose that brought him here in the first place.
Samuel Miller worked hard to fit into his Amish community despite his clubfoot. But when his father learns Samuel is gay, he is whipped and shunned. With just a few hundred dollars to his name, Samuel responds to an ad for a farmhand and finds himself employed by a city guy who has strange ideas about animals, no clue how to run his small farm, and a gentle heart.
Samuel isn’t the only lost soul to serendipitously find his way to Meadow Lake Farm. There’s Fred and Ginger, two cows who’d been living in a garage, a gang of sheep, and a little black pig named Benny who might be the key to life, love, money – and even a happily ever after for two castoffs.
I enjoyed most aspects of this story. Eli Easton’s superb writing and characters always draw me in and hold my attention. The descriptions of the settings and the events are so clearly conveyed.
What I adored most about this story was Sam. He was just wonderful. From the start, my heart went out to him when he was treated badly by his cruel father. Sam is such a sweet-natured person, vulnerable yet strong at the same time. I felt for him and the hardships he’d endured. I loved the way he grew as a person and found his place beside Eddie and on the farm. Sam may not have been highly educated, but he was hardworking, resourceful, and was prepared to do anything for Eddie.
The gradual progress of Sam and Eddie’s love affair was beautifully developed. It’s a sweet, slow build and when they start to become intimate it’s precious, although there’s more focus on their relationship than the sex. They are opposites in character and from very different backgrounds and experiences, but they work delightfully as a couple. It was lovely to see Sam’s fantasy life of finding a man, falling in love, and them living together happily realised. There are plenty of cute moments with the animals and also idyllic ones, such as Sam and Eddie riding on a tractor in the sunshine.
I struggled a little with Eddie. Yes, he had noble intentions in setting up the animal sanctuary and he was a big-hearted person, but he hadn’t got a clue what he was doing and was way out of his depth here. Did he really expect one person to run the farm single-handedly while he sat in his office writing novels all day? But that was part of the story, how, with Sam’s help, they eventually set up the animal shelter and make it work. The threat of bankruptcy hanging over his head was there from the start and the impact that would have on Sam and their life together added to the angst.
I like it when the same narrator is used within a series, even when the main characters change. Will created voices to match the characters’ personalities and made the story enjoyable to follow.