Author: Becky Jerams
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: Taylor Raven is starting over.
After a few difficult college years, he has decided to finally move away from Havensdale (and away from his father) to take a tennis coaching course in the tiny village of Westerfield.
The peaceful country life is exactly what Taylor needs to get away from it all. However, it is also incredibly lonely living by himself in the middle of nowhere. And no matter how far he runs, Taylor just can’t seem to escape the mistakes of his past.
As he struggles to find any kind of meaningful connection, he comes across a place on the outskirts of the village that will soon change everything. The Apple Inn – a pub run by a curious, slightly eccentric family who welcome Taylor into their world with open arms.
Soon Taylor finds his guard dropping, particularly around the kind and fun-loving son of the family, Benjamin Apple. But the closer Taylor gets, the more he feels compelled to pull away…
Can Taylor ever fall in love again when the one obstacle in his way… is himself?
Review: Taylor has a rich, controlling father who has an agenda for Taylor, one that Taylor had been on board with until recently. Now, however, he’s moved to a small village and taken a job at the Apple Inn to get away from who he was and maybe head to who he wants to be. Because let’s face it, Taylor was a nasty bully in his past. I didn’t read the book before this to get Taylor in all his horrid glory but enough is told here to understand what he was like.
At the Apple Inn, however, he gets to meet, know and fall for Benjamin Apple, the son of the owners. Benjamin is a ray of sunshine. He’s such an optimist and he thinks the best of people. Including Taylor. I admit, Taylor can be a difficult character to like. He gets angry quickly and sometimes lashes out at the wrong people. He has a reason for it in his abusive father but it’s something that makes him difficult.
Trouble comes in the form of an ex-girlfriend and her friend, who show up at the Apple Inn for the concert Taylor has been planning, a way to revive the Inn. Unfortunately, the girlfriend, Patricia, is also a nasty piece of work and she causes trouble for Taylor. He doesn’t handle it well either. Patricia is an over the top villain and I felt it took away from the fact that Taylor at times really hasn’t progressed much past where he had been when he was bullying Scotty. There are times when Taylor actively seeks out Benjamin in order to inflict emotional pain on him and that made me pause. “Why are you being so pathetic about all this?” is his response when Benjamin has just come face to face with Taylor’s lies about his past. “Everyone I fall in love with seems to h-h-hate me. Is it me, Ash? Do I deserve this?” At times, I thought, yes, yes you do. Change and make it so you don’t.
I also had trouble with the whole scenario with Taylor and his father, because I felt he was being pushed to “make the first move” to reconcile with dear old dad and I didn’t feel that was right. He’s young, only 19, and his father is a homophobic bully who really should have stepped up first.
The secondary characters, especially Scotty and Vincent, provide a glimpse into what Taylor can be, they see it in him. I liked the tight knit circle of friends that Taylor is lucky enough to have. The Apple family themselves are also wonderful, loyal and protective of each other while welcoming Taylor in with open arms. Benjamin deserves the absolute best and I hope, although I’m not positive, that Taylor can be that for him.