Author ~ Bailey Bradford
Publisher ~ Pride Publishing
Published ~ 29 December 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
When something inside him is shattered by an act of violence, Caleb Tomas doesn’t think he can ever be whole again.
Police Officer Jesse Martin has lived in the small town of El Jardin, New Mexico, for a decade, but he’s never seen anything like the mysterious man who moves in in the middle of the night. The house across the street from Jesse’s trailer is no longer empty. There’s a puzzle waiting to be solved there in the form of one sexy, but decidedly different, man.
Bruised and battered inside and out, Caleb Tomas flees to the town of El Jardin in the hopes of escaping the terror that haunts him. Instead, he becomes more of a recluse, scared of everything, unable to get more than a dozen feet past his porch before he panics. His head’s a mess, and he knows he needs help, but that’s a step he doesn’t want to take. It’s easier, safer to stay hidden away with only his adorable puppy, Loopy, and the bird-murdering cat, Mix, for companionship.
But Caleb can’t help but notice the sexy man across the street, and when Loopy escapes from the back yard, it’s Jesse Martin who comes to the rescue.
And he might save more than one bouncy little poodle, if Caleb and Jesse are willing to take the risk.
Reader Advisory: This book contains references to physical assault.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously released elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.
I always love a good hurt/comfort story. Throw in a cop and that’s a cherry on top. This story was an easy, sexy read, with two very likable main characters in the sexy, closeted police officer Jesse and the mysterious, traumatized Caleb.
Caleb Tomas is new in town, showing up bruised and battered and moving in at 3:00 a.m., immediately grabbing the attention of Jesse Martin. Jesse lives across the street and is a police officer in the small town of El Jardin, New Mexico. He is fascinated by the newcomer who is not only gorgeous, but quite obviously troubled. Everyday Jesse sits in front of his trailer and waits for Caleb to make the obviously difficult trip to his mailbox and back into the house. Jesse’s one attempt at an introduction ended up with his knock on the door being ignored and Caleb placing a “do not disturb sign” on his door. When Caleb’s dog escapes to Jesse’s property it’s the perfect excuse for an introduction. Caleb has noticed the gorgeous police officer, but Caleb knows he is a mess, barely able to leave his house, suffering from panic attacks and hiding away behind a door full of deadbolts with only his dog and visits from his sister and nieces for company. When Jesse returns Caleb’s escaped dog the chemistry is thick and the two begin a ritual of walking to the mailbox that soon has both of the men wanting more and the relationship quickly heating up.
It is quite clear from the start of the story that Caleb has been through something horrible that has completely changed the way he lives. The actual revelation of what happened comes more than halfway through the book, so the reader is kept wondering right along with Jesse. It is a horrible event, but not what I was expecting and did cast a better light on a few of Caleb’s specific issues. Jesse has adopted El Jardin as his home and is aware of the gossip mill and the potential for backlash if the people of the town find out he is gay. Although he attempts to keep his relationship with Caleb quiet, there is the inevitable discovery by the worst possible person. Jesse proves what a loving, strong and loyal person he is when everything he has worked to build is threatened. His character really endeared himself to me with the manner in which he treated Caleb from day one.
There are plenty of sex scenes in the story and it is here where we see the person Caleb probably was before. I really liked seeing the aggressive and demanding side of him that is such a contrast to his mannerisms outside of the bubble he has created with Jesse. The teasing, dirty, flirtatious side of him is the perfect foil for the alpha personality that is Jesse.
I thought the writing was good and the pace of story worked well up until the last part of the book which felt rushed with details of the resolution of a number of issues glossed over. As much as I enjoyed the story and the characters I was disappointed when after reading about Caleb setting up a plan that could help both the main and secondary characters the story abruptly cut to an Epilogue that assured me everything worked out, but without providing any of the details I expected. After enjoying and becoming so invested in the story, it was definitely a let-down. Overall I really liked the story and characters, the sex scenes were both steamy and sweet, and I read through the majority of the book very quickly, but would have liked to see another chapter or some more fleshing out of the resolution in the Epilogue.