My first and most overriding comment is that I absolutely adore Jay Bell and his writing. The man has a way with words that is truly remarkable. His wMy first and most overriding comment is that I absolutely adore Jay Bell and his writing. The man has a way with words that is truly remarkable. His words can draw me in so totally that hours can pass without me realizing that I really need to put one of his books down and go do something else (like feed the dog or clean the house).
The story he created about Ben and Tim starting in the first book of this series is one of the most endearing stories in the genre. Their relationship is not remotely direct or easy or clear-cut. Their lives do not follow cookie-cutter patterns. So they make their own way, survive the terrible things that come along, and become two of the most memorable characters.
This is the fourth book of the series. I gave it four stars instead of five for one reason -- I think the series has run its course. While I love the characters, this book was a bit too long. The new character introduced in book four is as remarkable as Ben and Tim and has his own terrible struggle, in his case since he has a habit of falling for men who are not available. He, too, survives and thrives and grows into a rich, complex, multi-faceted character. I could have done with a little less of his story with the Hubbards in the beginning because that was tedious and annoying.
But overall, Jay Bell has done it again and has given us a remarkable story. He holds the distinction of being one of the very few people who has written a book that I've read as an e-book, and I have then bought the printed book to put on my shelf. I don't have a lot of shelf space, but his books now have a home on my bookshelf. At some point I will re-read them and I'm sure I will get even more from them on that read. Thank you Mr. Bell....more
Wow. I didn't expect this one to be as good as it turned out to be. My expectation was for a fairly light, fluffy read. But almost everything about thWow. I didn't expect this one to be as good as it turned out to be. My expectation was for a fairly light, fluffy read. But almost everything about this is exceedingly well done. My first reaction was to the cover -- I love the cover art. The brooding teen male is a good representation of the two main lead characters of the story.
The story itself had me engaged from the start, but when it turned about that Jackson had an identical twin brother and that the two of them had been separated nearly ten years earlier as part of their parents nasty separation and divorce, the story suddenly became even more engaging for me. Jackson has his own issues as a closeted gay guy living with and working for his father in the family greenhouse. He's very alone and he's terribly lonely, until he meets Matt and they have a tentative advance/retreat type of relationship. Here is the one place where I fault the author: I cannot picture a teenaged male with buckets of testosterone coursing through his bloodstream refusing sex like Jackson did. That part did not fit the rest of the picture of Jackson.
Benjamin, Jackson's identical twin brother, gets shipped to Minnesota to spend the summer with his father and his long estranged brother, much against his wishes. His mother has to leave on a multi-month business trip and even though he's eighteen, she wants him to have supervision while she's out of the country for such an extended period of time. Ben gets to Minnesota with an attitude, which isn't helped when he finds out that Jackson seems to be mad at him and disdainful of him. He's even more annoyed when he learns that he has to work at the greenhouse doing hard manual labor every day of the week. But its there that he meets a girl he really likes and finally works up the urge to ask out. The problem is that he's so focused on why Jackson is mad at him and the mistakes that he sees Jackson making with Matt, that he isn't able to focus sufficiently on her and they go their separate ways.
At first, Ben seems like a spoiled brat, but I still felt for him and for the situation he'd been dumped in that was completely outside of his control. To go from living in Los Angeles to living in rural Minnesota with next to no warning must have been brutal, and the author conveys this sense of loss, longing, and the fish out of water feeling Ben was experiencing.
Ben increasingly tries to make peace with Jackson because he's really missed the guy who for years was his best friend, the guy who knew him as well as he knew himself. But Jackson is angry. He's angry that Ben and his mom left him years ago with an angry, abusive father who took out his frustrations about his marriage failing on his innocent son. Ben is angry and that anger has built over the nearly ten years they'd been separated. It takes Ben a lot of work to get that from Jackson and to finally persuade him that Ben didn't do it, but the separation was inflicted on them and that neither of them had any control over the situation. They were kids and had no choice.
Things spiral downward for Jackson and I really felt for him as he watched everything fall apart. He's accidentally outed to the entire town when someone overhears a private conversation, the guy he'd been sort of seeing for two summers turns out to be a schmuck who uses him but intends to return to his real boyfriend at the end of summer. But as things go to hell so quickly, it gives Ben the entry into what's been happening to Jackson and why he's so mad.
When Ben sees what Jackson has had to endure, the non-stop psychological torture, the constant belittling his father heaps upon him, the occasional physical abuse, he decides he can't leave Jackson behind and together they take off. If you want to know more, you'll just have to red the book. Trust me, its a good read with great main characters.
I was a little unsure why the author included the little old lady who shopped at the greenhouse, but she appeared numerous times. It wasn't clear what her role was....more