Jonathan’s Hope by Hans M. Hirschi

18212537 Title: Jonathan’s Hope
Author: Hans M. Hirschi
Published: July 17th 2013
Publisher: Yaree AB (first published July 16th 2013)
Rating: 4 stars
Blurb:

Abandoned to freeze to death in a winter forest by his father because of his homosexuality, Jonathan desperately struggles to survive, until he accidentally stumbles upon Dan, who owns a cabin in the woods.
Dan has been fighting his own demons since the death of his lover Sean. Having retreated from big city life, he is content to live in solitude, but he never counted on meeting Jonathan.
Given the dire circumstances, Dan must set his own needs aside to help Jonathan reclaim his life, but he soon finds that the ghosts of both their pasts won’t die so easily.
Review:
This is my first Hans Hirschi book. I chose Jonathan’s Hope as the first of his books to read because when I met the author at GRL and we were discussing my need for happy endings, this one sounded like it would be a fit for me. I am happy to say it was, but I will also say there is quite a bit of angst.

We first meet Dan who is struggling with his grief on the day that marks the one-year anniversary since his life partner, Sean, died. Dan has chosen to live in the cabin that they had remodeled together at the edge of the Great Forest. It holds many memories of Sean and is close to where Dan has buried his ashes. Withdrawn from the world as much as he can be, he does not expect to hear a knock on his door on a cold winter evening.

He opens the door to find a disheveled and obviously freezing, young man and invites him in without thinking. The young man’s name is Jonathan, and we find that his parents have abandoned him in the forest to die of exposure, because he was gay. As the story progresses, we learn that the abandonment is the least of the cruelties that Jonathan has suffered in his short seventeen years.

Jonathan brings out a protective instinct in Dan. He finds that he is drawn to him, but Jonathan is seventeen (turning eighteen in one week) and the fact that he is a minor and also thirteen years younger than Dan is an obstacle. Not to mention that he feels guilty for having these feelings because he is still grieving for Sean.

The author weaves the story with varying points of view: Jonathan’s, Dan’s, Dan’s dog Rascal (really fun way to give another perspective), Jonathan’s parents and other characters. It has an interesting writing style that changes within the story and between characters. There are things we as readers will know that the characters themselves will not. This was a different style for me but it worked and I enjoyed it.

There are many tragic events in this book: child and spousal abuse, violence, rape, and homophobia. These events touched so many lives in varied and devastating ways. It was difficult feeling sympathy for one of the perpetrators even though he had himself been a victim at one time

I must add that there are also moments of love, tenderness, passion and, above all, hope. I thought it was lovely how the author wrote the scene that gives us the title of the book. Very sweet. I typically like older man/younger man dynamics in a story and Dan, and Jonathan’s misgivings as the relationship developed were expected.

The author did promise a happy ending and he delivered, although the epilogue made me cry. Lovely, slightly bittersweet, but happy.

Wonderful, new to me, author. I will definitely be reading more of his work.
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Happy Reading,
Melyna

Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt

Then the Stars FallTitle: Then the Stars Fall
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m, contemporary
Published: September 29th 2014
Rating: Five Stars
Blurb:
The death of his wife four years earlier left Travis Bennett a shell of the man he used to be. With his dog by his side, Travis raises his three children, manages his business, and works as a ranch hand. But every day, every minute, is an aching emptiness.
Wesley Ryan has fond memories of the small Ozark town of El Dorado. Seeing it as a safe place to put his failed relationships behind him, Wesley moves into his grandparents’ old home and takes over the local veterinary clinic. An early morning visit from Travis and his dog stirs feelings that Wesley seeks to push away—the last thing he needs is to fall for a man with baggage and three kids as part of the package.
Life, it seems, has other plans.
Review:
I had never heard of Brandon Witt. I knew nothing about him or his writing. Then I went to GRL 2014. One of my favorite events is the author readings. During my first GRL, last year, I found some wonderful authors through this event, and this is how I found Brandon Witt this year. I listened to him read from Then the Stars Fall.  I cried. Then I bought the book.

I was not disappointed.

The story is set in El Dorado, Missouri, a small town which the author describes with such detail and richness that it is like being there with the characters. His characters feel real. Whether they were ones that I liked or not (and there are some that were very unlikeable), they were well developed and I felt invested in their stories.

The main character, Travis Bennett – widower, father of three, still grieving four years after losing his wife and best friend, Shannon – is a character that I did not immediately connect with. He is conflicted, angry, confused and at times abrasive. He is trying to navigate a life that he had never planned for, and he is not sure how to keep the promises he made to Shannon before she died.

When his dog, Dunkyn, needs medical attention, he meets Wesley Ryan, the new veterinarian in town. It is definitely not the best way for these men to meet. Wesley stirs feelings that Travis has been pushing aside for years, which just adds to his surliness. Wesley, knowing nothing about Travis or his past, is confused by his attitude and yet sees there is more there, an underlying story, a pain beyond his fear for his dog.

When Wesley becomes friends with Wendy Bennett, Travis’s sister, it brings the men together again for dinner at the Bennett’s house. Travis cannot deny his attraction to Wesley and while he feels guilt over his attraction to Wesley, he also has promises to keep to Shannon.

The excerpt the author read at GRL was from this scene and it was so incredibly beautiful.
IMG_2977
They kissed.
Animals slept.
They kissed.
The barn continued to stand.
They kissed.
Maybe a few stars fell.

(From Then the Stars Fall, by Brandon Witt.)

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Herbert, GRL 2014.

I enjoyed the way the author gradually develops the relationship between Wesley and Travis. It is slow and realistic, with misunderstandings as well as humorous moments. I loved the way we meet the family and people in the town as they interact with both men. The details and events give the story such depth; I felt the pain, the anger, the frustration, the grief, the sense of betrayal, the laughter, the love and the hope as the story unfolds.

The book is divided into seasonal sections beginning with autumn and ending with spring and an epilogue. The chapters are written from particular characters POV, not always Travis and Wesley. I thought it was a great way to get to know the characters better and how they perceived what was happening in the story.

This book can be read as a stand-alone book although I understand that the book The Shattered Door is actually the first book written in this world and contains back-story and more detail about some of the characters in this book.

Then the Stars Fall is beautifully written and one I happily recommend.

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Happy Reading,

Melyna

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The Shearing Gun

Great review. One more must read book. 🙂

It's About The Book

     Author: Renae Kaye

     Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

     Rating: 5 stars

     Buy Links: DSP and Amazon

     Type: Standalone Novel

     Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.

Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for…

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