Title: Fair Isn’t Life (States of Love | Minnesota)
Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 16, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 148 pages
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Luke Lafontaine survived the past year by not thinking about the father he lost, the dairy farm he couldn’t save from bankruptcy, or his way of life that vanished with the rap of an auctioneer’s hammer. Cleaning up city folks’ trash at the Minnesota State Fair is just another dead-end job. But at the Fair, surrounded by a celebration of farm life, ambitions he’d given up on and buried deep start to revive. And seeing Mason Bell in the parade—gorgeous, gay, out-of-his-league Mason—stirs other buried dreams.
Mason left his hometown for college in Minneapolis without looking back. Student life is fun, classes are great, gay guys are easy to find, but it’s all a bit superficial. He’s at the State Fair parade route with his band when he realizes a scruffy maintenance worker is Luke, his secret high school crush. Luke should be safely home working on his dad’s farm, not picking up litter. Mason wishes he hadn’t fallen out of touch. He’s an optimist, though, and it’s never too late for second chances. Now he just has to convince Luke.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Mason was Luke’s math tutor at their Buffalo Minnesota high school and when they meet up again at the Minnesota State Fair, Mason is intrigued. He imagined Luke still on the family farm helping his father with their dairy herd, but Luke’s father is dead, the farm lost to foreclosure and Luke is living in a small apartment with 3 others trying desperately to not return to homelessness.
Kaje does a wonderful job of giving us a young man whose passion is farming and you really understand why Luke yearns for the farm, his connection to the land and the cows he raised and showed at 4-H, and his willingness to give his all for something that has the real possibility of failure despite all his hard work and effort. The plot really draws you in (and you may shed a few tears, like I did, over those sweet bovines) and although the book is less than 150 pages, it feels fully developed and complete.
The relationship between Mason and Luke is nicely complex as Luke embraces Mason’s out-and-proud attitude while Mason understands Luke’s hesitancy in sharing his truth with his former neighbors and friends. I liked the trust between the two young men and how their relationship develops without needless manufactured angst. This story succeeds on so many fronts, giving us a sweet and compelling romance and a strong sense of what makes Minnesota the greatest state in the union (I may be just a bit prejudiced here.). 4 strong stars for “Fair Isn’t Life.”