Friday, June 09, 2017

Pre-Release Review: Back to You by Chris Scully

back to youTitle ~ Back to You 

Author ~ Chris Scully

Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing

Published ~  12th June 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Mystery





Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.


Sally’s Review

This book was such a treat. Partly a romance but much more a psychological drama with aspects of investigation of an old crime, it is peopled by a full cast of truly memorable characters.

It is set in Alton - a small town in British Columbia - a place where everyone knows everyone else's business and dirty laundry has no place else to be aired. Alex Buchanan and his family left when he was a boy but they but couldn't stay away. After the marriage broke down Alex's father and sister returned to the town, leaving Alex's mother and Alex to build lives of their own. Now Alex, with a successful journalistic career on his CV, has returned, reluctantly, in order to help his big sister Janet cope with the slow death of his alcoholic father. Alex expects to stay just a few days, and is shocked at how the sharp and troubling memories of the town and their life there come flooding back and, in particular, his memories of Benji Morning, his best friend, who might have been far more if they had stayed. Meeting Benji again, learning how his life played out after Alex left, and trying to help in resolving some of the anguish left over from twenty years before when Benji's sister, Misty Morning, disappeared, Alex seems to be a good neighbour but is actually gathering material for a story.

Alex is a fascinating character filled with contradictions. I must say that I didn't care for him at all in the first chapters. He is selfish, self-righteous and a user, prepared to insinuate himself into anyone's good graces to get the information he needs. Ben is a troubled but kind man, who has come to terms with his past as best he can and has made a well respected place for himself in the community. The contrast between his predatory and calculating approaches and the open heartedness of Ben Morning couldn't be greater. But they have their shared history to fall back on and  the relationship they build on that foundation is scary but very satisfying to read about.

The secondary characters are also very satisfying. Even bar staff, trailer park managers, chance met strangers, have a sharp presence on the page but Alex's anguished sister, Benji's equally anguished mother, the cheerful nurse at the hospice, Misty's morose ex, are well rounded and important people who one can imagine pursuing interests of their own when the protagonists are not present. One of the most important characters is Alex's father, so sick he can barely speak, whose presence [or lack of it] in Alex's life has severely impacted upon the self-serving way he lives it. Neither of the Buchanan men are attractive personalities - until the story begins to give up some of its secrets.

The setting is lavishly portrayed with moving and understated descriptions. The whole book is pervaded with a sense of melancholic isolation. Alton is so far from where it's at that, as far as Alex is concerned, it seems inexplicable why anyone would stay. That Misty, Ben's sister, upped stakes and left, never to be heard from again, hasn't been a surprise to most of her contemporaries. But the town is close to the Highway of Tears, a section of road in British Columbia where at least 16, possibly 40, young women went missing or were found murdered. The assumption was made that, if she's not whooping it up in a city somewhere, Misty too might have been a victim, many of whom were never found, and one gets the impression that the police may not have looked too hard. The frustration, the anger, the distrust also permeates the writing. It's so well done.

This book is very highly recommended for readers who like Romance Plus and who don't mind the romance to be a very slow build. Believe me the HEA is worth waiting for.

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  1. This sounds like a book that you won't want to put down until you've finished. Perfect for a long, rainy day.

    Thanks for reviewing it.