Title ~ In the Middle of Somewhere
Author ~ Roan Parrish
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 10th July 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.
Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.
When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.
Tough, tattooed, city boy Daniel finds himself in the middle of nowhere northern Michigan interviewing for a job as an English professor at small Sleeping Bear liberal arts college. While the interview goes well, the return trip to his hotel does not and he soon finds his car crashing into a tree to avoid hitting a dog. Rex, a shy, carpenter who is built like a god and, according to Daniel may or may not be a serial killer, appears from the woods to offer his assistance and brings both Daniel and the dog to his cabin in the woods. Not the greatest of first meetings, but Daniel is drawn to the intense Rex against his better judgment and spends the evening at the cabin. One thing leads to another, the two men share a kiss, but Daniel wakes up to an empty house. Flash forward six months and Daniel is on his way to start his new job in Michigan and worrying about possibly running into Rex again, but really hoping he does.
Told from Daniel’s POV, this is a sweet, love story with little outside drama. Daniel does not let his guard down easily, having grown up in a house where he was not really accepted by his father and brothers. Always the outsider, he was regularly beaten up and berated by them. He has never had a real relationship and has been hurt by someone he once thought he loved. He is a cynical, Philly fish out of water in a small town where everyone knows your business and sees him as the “angry, gay professor from New York City who uses all the ten-dollar words.” Rex is shy, built like a lumberjack, but incredibly sweet. He has also had a difficult past and has a desire to protect everyone he cares about.
I really enjoyed this novel. It was so well written, with great dialogue, I can’t believe it’s the author’s first book! The relationship between the men starts off slowly, but it is quickly apparent the two opposites are just what the other needs. The sexual chemistry is undeniable, but both men are fumbling when it comes to the other parts of having a relationship. As Daniel is trying to settle into his new life, there is still the possibility that he will be moving on if a job at another school opens up in his area of expertise. Rex is a talented carpenter, with a penchant for old movies, but at times feels like he isn’t good enough to keep up with Daniel’s education and intellect and has a fear of losing yet another person he cares for. As their relationship slowly progresses they deal with jealousies and misunderstandings while trying to navigate the minefields of their pasts, one of which comes to a head when Daniel suddenly needs to return home to Philadelphia and Rex goes with him.
There are some great secondary characters including Daniel’s best friend Ginger, Leo (who is apparently a young Daniel), Rex’s best friend Will and even Daniel’s hateful brothers and apathetic father. I am glad to see this is a first in a planned series of books. There is no cliffhanger here, but there are definitely some story lines that have more to them for both the main and secondary characters. I’m definitely looking to read more from Roan Parrish in the future.
Meet Roan Parrish
ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from moving. A former academic, she’s used to writing things no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting friends’ hair, listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.