Summary: They say a man can always come home. So after doing hard time, Sage Redding heads to his family’s northeast Texas ranch to help his ailing daddy with the cutting horses. Adam (Win) Winchester is a county deputy and the cousin of one of the men killed in the incident that sent Sage to prison for almost a decade. While Win’s uncles, Jim and Teddy, are determined to make Sage and the entire Redding family pay for their loss, Win just figures Sage has paid his dues and maybe needs a friend. Maybe he needs more than a friend. In fact, Win’s counting on it. No one’s denying Sage is an ex-con who went to prison for manslaughter. Regardless of the love he has for his father, he’s returned knowing things will likely go badly for him. Maybe a man can always come home, but he may not be able to stay
Review: This book has a plot that will be very familiar to anyone who reads gay romance: young gay man returns to small-town south to experience nonstop harassment, beatings, and threat at the hands of the town bullies, also known as the police, the authorities, and the town’s most powerful citizens, who also want to acquire the young man’s family ranch by forcing his feisty, outspoken family to sell. This same plot has been done in countless other books. Here, it gives Sage and his new boyfriend Win/Adam, who is a deputy, plenty of hurt-comfort scenes to go on for pages. Nothing wrong with that unless you are not among those readers who can’t get enough of hurt-comfort scenes.
The Terms of Release has characters you care about even though the well-worn plot and the all the hurt-comfort scenes suggest that this book is more about serving up favorite plot elements than breaking new ground. My problem is that the pacing is so weird. The beginning moves well with Sage returning home to help the family, but the middle of the book turns to mush with long scenes of Sage and Win/Adam dating, calling each other endearments, going to Six Flags, and just chatting aimlessly about things that don’t do anything for the plot. Then near the ending, the plot explodes into action with lots of danger, including a tornado. Then the ending itself drags out several chapters longer than needed past that. This book didn’t quite work for me, but I think it will for a lot of readers including the author’s existing fan base, those who love hurt-comfort, and fans of cowboy romance.