Title ~ Rattlesnake
Author ~ Kim Fielding
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 31st August 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
Jimmy’s been a drifter since he was fourteen years old. Bad decisions, stupid mistakes, no relationships, no loving family or friends, moving from job to job, town to town, never staying more than a few weeks or a season, with never more than a few bucks to his name. It may not be anyone else’s idea of a good life, but Jimmy has no regrets and no plans to change any time soon. Jimmy picks up Tom, a dying man trying to get to Rattlesnake, CA to deliver a letter to his estranged son Shane. Tom doesn’t make it to Rattlesnake, but Jimmy feels the need to deliver his letter whether Shane.
Jimmy finds Shane Little in the old west mining town of Rattlesnake that has managed to retain some of the 1850’s feel from when the town was built. Shane is the bartender at the Rattlesnake Inn, which is owned by his Aunt. He’s lived his whole life there, has a large and loving family and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. He moves slowly, with obvious difficulty, has scars on his face, but is friendly and spends the evening talking with Jimmy at the bar. Jimmy decides not to hand over the letter and possibly disrupt Shane’s life, but to just keep moving on. Too bad his old car has other ideas. The next morning Jimmy finds himself sitting in the diner with a few bucks, no car and a talkative Shane, who is eager to hear Jimmy’s stories of the road and help solve his immediate problems with a job as the Inn’s handyman. Although the itch to leave is always there, one day turns to two and Jimmy finds a new reason to stay each morning, most of which relate back to Shane.
There is beauty in the simplicity of this story, with writing that puts you right there in the town of Rattlesnake. Told from Jimmy’s point of view, the majority of the action takes place in the Inn, revolving around the day-to-day tasks there. As Jimmy and Shane get to know each other better we hear more of his stories from the road, although it’s hard to be sure which are true and which are a bit embellished. While he may tell a tale or two, at the heart of it Jimmy is a good man who has never had anyone on his side and doesn’t think he deserves what Shane has and wants to give. The smallest acts of trust and care are almost enough to bring Jimmy to tears. Shane is sure he has Jimmy figured out and that Jimmy’s love of his drifting lifestyle is only because he never has had any reason to stay somewhere.
Shane is a wonderful character that I couldn’t help but love from the start. He sees himself as broken inside and out, but he is kind, generous and outgoing. His life drastically changed ten years ago and he has most of the town looking out for him and that includes making sure Jimmy knows not to hurt him. Jimmy is almost immediately caught up in Shane’s spell. Watching Jimmy fall for Shane and the town and feel a bit of hope then immediately fear it shows how vulnerable he really is.
“Well, but this was hope, wasn’t it? And Jimmy knew perfectly well what hope became: bitter ashes. Eventually Shane would see Jimmy’s true self and then he’d turn away in anger and disgust. And Jimmy … he couldn’t survive another turning away.”
Kim Fielding’s writing is so easy to read, I was quickly immersed in the small world she created. This is a quietly unfolding love story without epic drama or angst, and Jimmy and Shane are both layered characters with engaging personalities and great chemistry. It was a nice change of pace and I highly recommend it.