Northwest of Normal

Author: Laura Gomez

Publisher: Loose Id

Rating: 3.5 stars

Buy Links: LId and Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher


Blurb:  On a solo road trip home from college, Ben wakes up to find his car stolen, with him still lying in the backseat. Driving his car are two redneck brothers on the run from the police; Randall – a terrifying thug with a gun, and his little brother Murphy – a sinfully beautiful man with the bluest eyes Ben’s ever seen.

Being captured by a killer wasn’t part of Ben’s plan. Nor was falling for Murphy. His tough exterior hides someone sweet, vulnerable, and dangerously sexy. But this redneck can’t be gay, can he?

Tied to Murphy with his wrists bound, forced to share a motel room and even a bed night after night, Ben’s not sure he wants to escape anymore. He and Murphy slowly turn from enemies to secret lovers. Secret being the operative word. If Randall finds out he’ll kill them both.

But it’s hard for Ben to keep quiet when he’s having the most amazing sex of his life with the man who might just be his one true love.

Review:  To enjoy this book I’d say you have to accept it’s a work of fiction and that not every little detail is realistic. The characters don’t always react how you think they should. This book is about a captive falling in love with his captor. So if that’s a no no for you I’d just step away now. It’s maybe not my favorite trope but I thought this one was pretty well done. I understood how Ben could fall for Murphy. I thought there was plenty of redemption for Murphy and his back story is really heartbreaking. So of course I wanted him to find some happiness. Murphy grew up poor in Georgia. After his mother died, he was raised by his abusive alcoholic father and at times his less than scrupulous brother. Both had very specific ideas about what “man” should be. He really knew no kindness beyond his brother taking beatings for him sometimes. He doesn’t even really like his brother Randall because he’s a homophobic opportunistic maniac, but feels compelled to be loyal to him because he’s all he has.

Ben is kidnapped when Murphy and Randall steal his car with him sleeping in the back seat. Randall treats him very poorly and Murphy is too scared of his brother do anything about it. Randall takes off frequently to get laid and scam some money leaving Murphy and Ben alone together. Ben is kind to Murphy despite his situation. They become friendly and then more than friends in secret. Murphy has only ever slept with women and that was at his brother’s insistence. So being with Ben is new but feels right. Ben also just talks to him. Flirts with him. Makes him feel like more than just a poor hick on the run from the law. Murphy thinks someone like Ben could never be serious with someone like him. Ben sees something in Murphy that makes him want to help him. Even if that means not escaping when he can because there’s no telling what Randall will do to Murphy if Ben gets away. Ben is also very attracted to Murphy and falls for him pretty quickly.

There were a few niggles in this book. Like when they wreck the car and just leave it thinking nobody will every find it and they’ll have to explain it. How will Murphy find Randall? Why there’s never any mention of the fact the cops are going to come calling one day. Just a lot of things like that. They don’t ruin the story by any means but I did question why it wasn’t addressed. Ben was pretty naive and overly sweet at times but he was likable. The story really relied on his kindness. Murphy was the character that interested me the most however. He’s one of those guys who given the opportunity would have been amazing but was dealt a crap hand in life. Once free from his horrendous family, Murphy finally gets to be the man he is. Not afraid. Or fake being straight. Not a piece of trash. Ben loves him and that’s enough to give him the confidence he needed to break away.

I think I could have hated Randall if the author didn’t throw in a little of his sob story and what taking care of Murphy cost him. I don’t think he was ever going to be the good guy Murphy is but he did whatever had to be done to survive. This was a pretty good love story. I liked how it made me think. Ben should hate them but I understood why he didn’t. Murphy was so lost before he found Ben. I think that’s why I finished this book feeling so good about. Together he and Ben found love and happiness. Something Murphy had never had.


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