Author: Kim Fielding
Narrator: KC Kelly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars story and narration
Buy Links: DSP
Received from Publisher
Blurb: A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
Review: Wow! All the feels for this truly touching tale. A masterfully woven, character driven story revolving around acceptance, love, and worth; it already has a reservation on my Top Ten list for 2016.
I received the audio version of this story for review – I had not read it first. KC Kelly’s performance is no less than sublime. He had me transfixed with his affable vocal style; a style which perfectly imbued the easy going, unassuming, discomfited Jimmy. This was the perfect fit, as the story is told in third person single (Jimmy’s) POV.
It’s not news to me that Kim Fielding sure knows how to craft a compelling story, and she sure has outdone herself here. The nuanced characters, along with the exploration of the complexity of their emotions, struck a very deep chord. This is the story of a drifter, Jimmy, who discovers reasons to stop running without even realizing he had been. It’s the story of the man and the town who got under his skin – and found a way to his heart. It’s also the story of a character I fell hard for. I fervently wanted Jimmy to find happiness with all the trimmings.
There is a slow, deliberate, build up in this story – which was extremely effective in establishing in my mind what made Jimmy tick. I learned a lot about Jimmy through his musings and interactions as he drove the road to nowhere in his beat up car. Where he had traveled in his over 25 years of drifting; he’d seen nearly every state in the USA. What he had seen; you name it, he’d seen it. What he had done; he had held many and varied jobs. Where he had lived; nowhere was “home”. Who he had cared about; he cared about everyone, yet nobody. Having all of this background info going right from Jimmy’s head to mine served to make his coming actions especially profound. It also had me rooting for him to find that one place, that one person who could get him to still his wandering feet. I also wanted Jimmy to fill in the blanks, the ones regarding his childhood, and his family. Knowing Jimmy so well set the tone for how difficult a time he had recognizing and accepting the kindness he was about to find. In Jimmy’s shoes, it was easy to believe he could be so blind to, so unaccepting of, so downright scared of all the good he became surrounded by in Rattlesnake.
Being the kind and polite person that he is, Jimmy initially goes to Rattlesnake to deliver a note from a man he shared the road with for a brief, tragic while. And hey, he usually went wherever the road took him, so why not Rattlesnake? Plus, his crappy car was about ready to give up the ghost, and it did once he reached town. Karma, I hear you! Little did Jimmy know how much Shane, the intended receiver of that note, was about to change his life. Man walks into a bar and…. This is where I want to be sure to convey how wonderful the author’s writing is. The reader never gets inside Shane’s head, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt how Shane felt about Jimmy, from the moment he first set eyes on him and every page thereafter. Shane to me was quite an open book, but to Jimmy his attention was a puzzlement. To Jimmy, Shane was someone out of his league, someone too good to be interested in the likes of him for long. Well, back to the bar reference. Jimmy walked into the bar which Shane co-owned and tended, and Shane’s interest piqued immediately. Shane was a character who was so very easy to love. He was a gentle, vibrant man who on the surface had an absolutely positive outlook on everything. But, he had scars both visible and invisible. Shane didn’t know Jimmy’s back-story, he only knew the man who walked in, the man in front of him. And, as he patiently got to know Jimmy over the weeks, began to see his layers peel back, he became the man Shane fell in love with. Shane’s demeanor mirrored the easy yet yielding pace of the general story. He was forward with his desires. He pushed Jimmy somewhat out of his comfort zone, but in a gentle and undemanding manner. He was so very awesome at being patient with Jimmy’s reluctance to accept more than what Jimmy considered a temporary arrangement. The sex between the two men started out with what Jimmy figured would be a one- off. It moved to, well, maybe a two-off. As Jimmy stayed in town, the sex became more frequent – and more than mere sex. These moments – the sex scenes – were not main fare in the story, but they were passionate and quite integral in depicting the deeper relationship developing between Shane and Jimmy.
The town of Rattlesnake was an important and compelling character in itself. Shane and Jimmy initially bonded over the excellent fare at Mae’s restaurant, an every morning tradition. The food descriptions sure made my mouth water! Seemed nearly everyone was related to Shane in one way or the other, which was a hoot. Shane’s aunt ran the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bar was located and where Shane lived. As a Western and history buff, I was fascinated by the vivid picture the author painted of the Inn, the town, and the surrounding landscape. Shane’s family was all still nearby, his folks running a ranch outside of town. I appreciated how Shane’s family was understandably cautious and concerned about his attraction to a drifter, but were never overbearing or meddling. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really take issue with manipulative or “I know what’s best for you” characters.
Another aspect I appreciated was Jimmy being a mature man in his early 40’s, and Shane being 30. No kids these. Both men had led vastly different lives, yet both had logged their share of hard knocks. Experiencing their journey as they came to learn of each other’s painful pasts, how it affected the men they were, and how it affected their feelings for one another, made for one of the most heart-aching, beautiful reads I’ve experienced in a long time. Jimmy danced around his true feelings for quite a while. In fact, one of the most moving scenes in the story involved him and Shane slow dancing. Do yourself a favor; if you aren’t familiar with the lyrics to “Crazy” and “I Walk The Line”, look them up when you get to this chapter. This scene exudes romance, with the song’s words depicting feelings Shane wasn’t sure Jimmy was ready to hear him say yet. I swoon. ^_^
I want to go live in Rattlesnake, I need to see how everything, and everyone, is doing. And maybe have a slice of pecan pie at Mae’s. ♥