A sympathetic hero is probably the single most important element of a winning romance for me, whether it’s a traditional het rom or a m/m read. This story definitely has a hero who you can’t help but root for. Harper has just spent the past 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was a teacher, falsely accused of raping a student. Now, he is out of jail, his reputation in tatters, and he has no idea how to regain any sense of normalcy. He has no one to come home to. Everyone abandoned him. He has only the worn down house his father left him before Alzheimers robbed him of his faculties.
Malachai –our other hero– has it pretty rough as well. He has recently escaped from an unhealthy relationship that cost him his job. Now he lives with his somewhat mentally challenged sister and her homophobic husband, who treats Malachai like dirt. He can’t find steady work and he can only be in the house at night to sleep. He’s not looking for a relationship, just a way to support himself. It’s thanks to Malachai’s temp job with the construction firm fixing Harper’s house that our two heroes find themselves thrown together.
The attraction is instant, which I am down with. But these two are getting physical with each other, crazy-fast. This bothered me a little, especially with the lack of condom use during oral sex. (They use condoms for intercourse, but can come in each other’s mouths left and right. I’m thinking, wha?) It’s not just the physical that develops fast, but the emotional connection too. These two are so starved for love and acceptance, their bond with each other borders on dependency. It’s over the top at times, but it also manages to tug on the heartstrings, because the author sold me on how much these men fill a void in each other.
A big part of the plot is wrapped up in the false case against Harper and that kept me interested. I didn’t figure out the how and why of the frame job right away, which kept me engaged. I thought the withholding of Malachai’s former job as a journalist was a weak secret for a relationship-landmine, though, and this “blowing up” felt a little contrived. And I felt like Malachai’s history with his former lover was underdeveloped. This was a really big deal that we only shined a light on when it was convenient to solving Harper’s case.
Overall, I liked it fairly well, though, because of the well crafted main characters. I liked them individually and together, which goes a long way to smooth out the rough edges.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Barbara Elsborg
Release Date: March 24, 2015