My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This second entry in Roan’s Garnet Run series gives us Charlie’s story and oh, how my heart hurt for him so many times.
Unlike his brother Jack, who we got to see fall in love with Simon in Better Than People, Charlie hasn’t really ever had a chance at relationships, other than a brief encounter shortly before their parents were killed just before his 18th birthday.
So, seeing how he struggles when he finds himself attracted to Rye and not knowing what to do about it was both heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time.
Thankfully Rye, for all his prickly nature, is actually a truly kind-hearted soul who is dealing with his own demons and his own stumbling steps into a relationship are just what Charlie needs.
There is a little tension here, many of the beats in the story come from Charlie’s growing self-awareness and awakening that he can put himself first and take things for his own pleasure.
There’s a bit of angst, as a whole it’s lowish steam, and it makes perfect sense within the narrative, although there are lots of heated kisses and cuddles which lead to emotionally charged conversations.
But there is also a seriously sexy spanking scene which went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and I loved it all the more for it. Overall, it’s a quiet romance, not a lust-packed one, although the attraction between the two men is still clear to see.
The relationship development feels organic and has few of the irritating misunderstandings or lack of communication issues which are often thrown in just to cause tension.
I liked both characters, but felt this one perhaps lacked a bit of the otherworldly or magical feel which made Better Than People a more engaging read.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this, because I did and I read it all in one go, but I didn’t have that same sense of excitement at the first book, which felt far more significant given the difficulties Simon faced in his daily life.
However, it also stars two fabulous cats, which as a lover of that most magnificent of animals, really made me happy and the usual feel-good, if somewhat in your face, meddling of a small town local community who seek to embrace the newcomer Rye.
#ARC kindly received from the publishers Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review