Author ~ Louise Collins
Published ~ 1st April 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
I blamed my uncharacteristic whisper on the shock of the situation. My usual military calm shattered by the man I was straddling.
I should have got my composure back and said something after, something like 'Are you real?' or 'How is this possible? Instead I gawped, mouth hanging and eyes tracking. Unlike the ghosts in my dreams, I could clutch at his skin, hear his sharp intakes of breath, smell the scent of wood smoke on his clothes.
The man beneath me, the one staring up at me with his dazzling grey irises and black hair fanned out on the floor. He was dead, had died years ago in a tragic accident. A tragic accident that not only robbed him of his young life, but took my mother’s too.
I had wanted to start a new chapter in my life, had a path all set out for me to take. It should have been easy, burying my past, stepping into my future.
Life took an unexpected turn when I found myself pinning Jackson Price to the floor...
This book is different to the ones I’ve been reading lately, more sedate and less high drama. It’s not “fluffy bunny”, I don’t read those, but a little feel-good doesn’t hurt, now and again. Don’t get me wrong, there is drama in here, plenty of it, but it’s not edge-of-your-seat stuff.
Quill has just got out of the army, feeling guilty about having neglected his mother in the years before her death. The reason for this was her second husband, Richard who, it appears, was named well. Hating everything about Dick, Quill also shut out all mention of his stepbrother, Jackson. That is until he travels to the cottage his mother left him, in Scotland, to clear it out for its new owners and found Jackson squatting there.
Without mains supplies, Jackson has survived for seven years by hunting, fishing and living off his wits. He’s content; more than happy with his home in the Scottish wilds. How can Quill tell him the truth – that he is now homeless – especially when Jackson grows on him so fast, Quill can’t envisage life without him?
Quill puts off telling him for so long that when he does spill the beans he finds himself with a Jackson-shaped hole in his life he can’t even conceive of filling.
I loved both these characters, for different reasons. I could empathise with Quill and understand where he was coming from with each decision he makes. That doesn’t mean I agreed with them. He struggles with not telling Jackson about the house sale but what starts as a day or so reprieve to give Jackson a great Christmas, becomes a millstone around Quill’s neck, or maybe the Sword of Damocles would be a better metaphor. The longer it goes on, the more he falls for Jackson, the harder it is to tell the truth and the higher the stakes when he does. I don’t envy him those few days.
What can I say about Jackson? Oh my, I love that boy. It takes a special kind of person to live alone, off grid, for seven years, especially when you’re living with crushing guilt and rejection, and remain sane. Despised and neglected by his father, having lost his mother at birth, Jackson was a mess. When he finally started to open up to his stepmother, she was killed in an accident and he fled to the last place he had been happy – her cottage in Scotland. It was his refuge, yet in some ways his prison. It was utterly cruel how it was taken away from him, but I completely understand why Quill did what he did.
Through the book, Jackson blossoms. Quill grows and heals too, but Jackson opens like a flower and is just as beautiful.
I have a few niggles, for example Quill and Jackson bump into the new owners as they’re leaving the property. Jackson stays in the car and has no idea who they are. Quill tells them the house is ready for them, apart from a few boxes. Now, I’m pretty sure that seven years of living in a house can neither be packed in the backpack Jackson took with him, or “a few boxes” especially as Jackson had no idea when he left the house that he wouldn’t be back. The new owners must have been aware, and I would like to have seen just a glimpse of how Quill explained that away. There were also a few little things with plot and character that weren’t really important.
On the whole, I have only good things to say about this book. It’s a lovely story with vivid characters and a strong plot. The secret causes tension throughout which is wonderfully woven through much lighter moments and a lot of humour. What’s not to like?