Author: Dawn Flemington
Publisher: Loose Id
Rating: 2.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Bruce Deirmann has lost everything. His job, his house, his children and his partner. The holidays are fast approaching and even though he has a well-meaning ex-wife cheer leading him on and his daughter’s wedding in the wings, he still feels hopeless. At the end of his rope, he is challenged to make an early resolution – to start living again.
Jorry Nelson is a quirky dog walker who’s made a few resolutions himself. Alone in the world, he is determined to better his life and get out of the illegal job he is trapped in. A childhood friend of Bruce’s children, he enters Bruce’s life at the right time and the attraction on both parts is immediate.
Love blossoms like May in the cold of December. However, trouble follows Jorry and though he and Bruce are working on a new beginning for the both of them, will Jorry be able to leave his past activities behind? Or will they haunt the couple and tear them away from each other before true love and happiness have a chance to live?
Review: Sometimes I find that a story blurb will lead me to have expectations about a book which ultimately don’t pan out. This was one of those times.
I was drawn in by the Michigan setting (specifically a city I have spent time in), one character being in a dog business, and the enjoyment I generally get in seeing how age gap plots are dealt with by an author. It sounded as if there was much to be explored here. Well, there turned out to be so much going on in these pages, it almost seemed as if I were reading two different books. I also felt at the beginning, the story was going to be of a different tone than it ended up being. I’m not sure if the over the top, campy tone that I eventually registered upon reading this story is exactly what the author was going for.
At the heart of the story was Bruce, a 40 something year old man who was finally coming to terms with the death of his partner of 15 years, his fairly new job, and a move out of his longtime home. Early in the story, Bruce re-connects with Jorry, who was a family friend of his kids, and thus 20+ years younger than he. They started seeing each other casually, which led to dating. I found their romance never gelled… Bruce’s hesitancy at getting involved with someone near half his age was convincing, but I didn’t buy that Bruce wasn’t more aware of Jorry’s situation before they got deeply involved. I did feel Jorry – given his history of abuse – would have shown much more emotional turmoil at the prospect of becoming intimate with Bruce, someone who truly cared for him. Instead that aspect of the relationship was left vastly unexplored.
Some plot threads were fuzzy… If Jorry was such a fixture in Bruce’s home alongside his kids as teens, how exactly did he just drop out of their lives seemingly without being missed – even though he and Bruce stayed living in same small city? I don’t remember reading a solid explanation for this, but truth be told, I didn’t go back and look for it either. Jorry’s care giver died when he was 18, but still, it came across as him not exploring any legitimate options for help. Jorry’s handy BFF pretty much disappeared at one point in the story… The blurb says Bruce “lost his kids” yet he and the whole family was planning the daughter’s wedding and Skyping from the get go. These plot inconsistencies and questions had me scratching my head. The villain in this story presented as a caricature to me, and I was really surprised at how gratuitously violent some scenes were when put in context with the entire story.
The story utilizes so many genre tropes and clichés my head was spinning: Someone’s lover died, May/December romance, I knew my new lover when he was 16, meddling ever present ex-wife, man working for his ex, bratty kid, cute dogs, evil villain with political aspirations, down on luck kid getting caught up in a life of crime, blackmail, family barging into homes unannounced, condoms or bare scenario, etc. Add to that a conglomeration of kidnapping, human trafficking, drug dealing, dog fighting, illegal fighting rings—-complete with on page fights with sounds of “flesh ripping” and vivid descriptions of blood and brain gore as well. Jorry was a likeable character, but oh my…too much going on here for me.
In conclusion, compelling basic plot possibilities, but the author’s execution of it did not work for me.