Title ~ The House on Hancock Hill
Author ~ Indra Vaughn
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date ~ 7th February 2014
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Pastry chef and bakery owner Jason Wood bakes a mean chocolate soufflé, yet his love life keeps falling flat. He’d blame his past if he wasn’t trying so hard to avoid it.
When his family’s farmhouse burns to the ground, he’s summoned to identify a body found in the ashes. Jason returns to Hancock, Michigan, and reunites with a childhood friend, small town vet Henry McCavanaugh. After fifteen years apart, their rekindled friendship soon develops into much more. But Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance, and he leaves town unannounced to escape his feelings—and Henry’s feelings for him. He has learned the hard way if something seems too good to be true, it’s best to run for the hills. Jason stress-bakes more confections than he knows what to do with before wondering if he’s running in the wrong direction.
I have to admit the thing that first attracted me to this story was the exceptional cover. It’s refreshingly different from the usual half naked men on most of the book covers in this genre. Don’t get me wrong, many of those covers are great, but I love it when authors have the guts to go an entirely different way. The premise was the second thing that attracted my attention. I’m a sucker for hurt/comfort romances with a nice portion of angst, so when my GR friend Katharina (Thx again, sweetie) recommended the story to me I had to read it. Pronto! So I picked up the book and within the first pages it just clicked with me and I couldn’t put it down!
The House on Hancock Hill is about Pastry Chef Jason, who owns a bakery in Traverse City and bakes a mean chocolate cookie. His love life is anything but ‘mean’ though. Disillusioned after his boyfriend Tom cheated on him ten years ago, Jason no longer bothers with commitments, preferring the friends with benefits and no-strings lovers alterative. When his family’s farmhouse in Hancock, Michigan burns to the ground he heads back to the memories of his past, to Henry, ‘Mac’, a childhood friend he hasn’t seen for so long, he doesn’t even recognise him straightaway.
“Careful,” Henry said, steadying me with an equally tight hold on my arm, and he laughed at the nickname. “No one calls me that anymore. Let me get in the car before you freeze. Again.”
“You did look familiar,” I said as he buckled himself in beside me. “I just can’t believe it’s you.” It wasn’t hyperbole. I really couldn’t believe it…
Henry, a vet with passion for his job lives a lonely life, his only company is his old Irish Wolfhound and his love for animals and in particular for his dog is so heart-warming to see. It’s been fifteen years since Henry fell in love with his childhood friend Jason, having never gotten over him, and with Jason suddenly turning up, Henry is determined to make the best of it.
“Only, you know in a few days I’ll be gone, and I’d never… I’d hate for you to do something you’ll regret.”
“I know that,” he whispered. “And I won’t.” He reached for me and stroked my bottom lip with his thumb, catching a little on the moisture, dragging it down…“When we kiss, I feel it right here….” Henry slipped a hand under my T-shirt and touched me below the ribs. His hand was warm, his touch scorching. “And even if it’s only for a few days, I’ll take it. After that, I’ll let you go. I promise.”
Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance and he leaves again. Back to his normal life, only to find out quickly that stress-baking the sweetest confections and running for the hills isn’t the right way. He knows the time has come to man up and face his inner conflicts.
Oh, Jason’s long journey of making peace with his painful past and present isn’t an easy one. His self-pity and passivity drove me crazy. There was something about him though that attracted my motherly instincts, I couldn’t decide either to slap him or hug the living daylights out of him. But when the guy was absorbed in baking and making truffles, omg… I went with him to chocolate heaven.
Indra has taken two gorgeous, endearing and complex characters and woven a story around them that has made me smile, cry and shake my head. At some point I even felt the temptation to grab Jason and drown him in his damn cookie dough. But only characters you developed deep feelings for can carry you that far, right?
The story is full of everything that makes up a great romance. Friendship, sacrifice, unrequited love, sexual tension and obscure history. The twists and turns are turbulent, and sometimes Henry and Jason’s misunderstandings annoyed the hell out of me, but their love for each other smoothed my ruffled feelings again… and again… and again. *sigh* What a bumpy road that journey was.
The supporting characters are just as lovable as the main couple. Caleb, the nurse and Deputy Ron, Jason’s landlady Annie, his employee Alice, his business partner Denny, his friend with benefits Daniel, even at the end Johnny and Tom… And not forgetting the adorable Great Danes we get to know at the end of the book. If you’ve read Indra’s wonderful blog post you know that those dogs are real…
I really have no words to describe how much I enjoyed this book, I loved everything about it. It’s hard to believe that this is Indra Vaughn’s first novel. The writing is exceptionally good… Each scene is carefully worded to bring every emotion to life, the happiness, the loneliness, the humour and the heartbreak. Jason and Henry’s story is simply amazing! I pushed with them through their struggles, I laughed and cried with them.
Overall, The House of Hancock Hill is definitely a book that has already gone in my favourite reads of 2014. I can’t wait to read more from Indra. I hope asking for a follow-up Indra isn’t too presumptuous? We need to know how the Great Danes are doing… and Caleb needs his own story, right? And Daniel…:D Just saying. :D
5 heavenly, chocolate covered stars…
Let me finish my review with the recipe of Jason’s chocolate fudge. Thx to lovely Indra for sharing it with us. I will try it out and seduce hubs with its heavenly taste. I swear… <3 <3 <3
The Fudge that brings all the boys to the yard
What you will need:
• Dark chocolate - 12 oz/350 gr. Go as dark as possible, I use Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips.
• Condensed milk - 14 oz/400 gr.
• Unsalted butter - 1 oz/30 gr.
• Pinch of salt
• Unsalted pistachios - 5 oz/150 gr. (You can replace this with any kind of nut you want, or even mini-marshmallows if you want to avoid nuts altogether.)
Now the incredibly complicated process of making the Fudge:
1. Throw everything apart from the nuts/marshmallows into a heavy-based pan. Melt slowly until everything is combined.
2. Tenderly gather your nuts in the palm of your ha— uh,
I mean, put the nuts in a ziplock baggie and whack the hell out of them until you have a variety of pieces. (Not until it’s all turned to sawdust. Control your nut-whacking urges, please.)
3. Add the nuts (or the marshmallows) to the melted mixture and stir carefully.
4. Pour the mix into a tray. This can be any kind of tray depending on how you want the Fudge to look. I tend to buy small aluminum disposable trays, because I can easily remove the Fudge by stretching the sides.
5. Let the Fudge cool, then refrigerate until it’s set. I usually leave it overnight.
6. Cut into desired pieces and devour, refrigerate, or freeze!
A Word from Indra Vaughn
Hello everyone, and thank you Tina for inviting me to Sinfully Sexy Books. I love this blog and I’ve been following it for a long time, so it truly is an honor to be here.
The book I am talking about today is The House on Hancock Hill, which happens to be my debut full-length novel. It’s about Jason Wood, a pastry chef with his own bakery, and his long journey of making peace with his past and present, so he stands a chance at a happy ending in the future with his childhood friend, Henry McCavanaugh. Of course, by the time Jason is ready, Henry seems to have moved on, because life is never easy, is it?
But what I would like to talk about today is doggies! There are quite a few dogs in this book, and two of them are actually based on a photograph I came across online that I found really touching. I didn’t use their real names, because that wouldn’t be polite now, would it? I did, however, use the name of one real dog. His name was Jupiter, and he was the dog of my beloved beta reader, Olivia. This book wouldn’t have existed without her, and when Jupiter passed away shortly after The House on Hancock Hill was contracted by Dreamspinner Press, I decided to give him a little immortality in the book. RIP Jupiter, your family still misses you every day!
I have a dog too. His name is Neo, and when we rescued him he was 20 pounds underweight, had bad broken teeth, and heart worm. They were actually going to put him down because he was in such a terrible shape, but he was an absolute sweetheart, and they couldn’t do it. (Lucky us!) He’s been with us for five years now, which makes him eleven, and he’s given us so much joy I couldn’t imagine life without him. A few years ago I had to have surgery and had to rest a lot, and he stayed with me in the bed the entire time. Such a beautiful dog, it breaks my heart someone would hurt him. (He was treated very badly, I don’t want to go into it because it’s very upsetting.)
But he’s making up for lost time by being pampered to his floppy ears. He sleeps on an orthopedic dog bed, goes to the dog park and on regular walks in the woods. At least when it’s not below zero… If I try to walk him now, he just gives me the stink-eye and trots back inside.
If you read the book, I sincerely hope you enjoy it, and please don’t hesitate to contact me any time. You can find me:
Thank you for hanging out with me and happy reading!
About Indra Vaughn
In 2008 Indra Vaughn packed up everything but the kitchen sink... no, that’s a lie. She left everything behind apart from her books and moved from Belgium to Michigan.
She now lives in the suburbs of Detroit with her dog who thinks he's a toddler. Indra’s professional background is in Nursing and Chinese Medicine, but she prefers to spend time making up stories about mysterious men and their unrequited love.
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* A signed copy of The House on Hancock Hill, a choice of books from my backlist, a $25 Amazon gift card, and a selection of swag
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If you go snoop around the excerpt of the book on my blog here, and comment telling me Henry’s Irish Wolfhound’s name! I’ll put your names in the hat and pull out a winner for an ebook of The House on Hancock Hill.