Review: Eli Easton – Tender Mercies (Men of Lancaster County #2)

Author: Eli Easton
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary:

Eddie Graber’s dream of a sanctuary for rescued farm animals was about to come true when his partner backed out at the last minute. Now Eddie risks losing the twenty-five acre property in Lancaster County—and all the hopes he held for it—before the project even gets off the ground. He needs help, he needs money, but most importantly, he needs to rediscover the belief in a higher purpose that brought him here in the first place.

Samuel Miller worked hard to fit into his Amish community despite his club foot. But when his father learns Samuel is gay, he is whipped and shunned. With just a few hundred dollars to his name, Samuel responds to an ad for a farmhand and finds himself employed by a city guy who has strange ideas about animals, no clue how to run his small farm, and a gentle heart.

Samuel isn’t the only lost soul to serendipitously find his way to Meadow Lake Farm. There’s Fred and Ginger, two cows who’d been living in a garage, a gang of sheep, and a little black pig named Benedict who might be the key to life, love, money—and even a happily ever after for two castoffs.

NOTE: This title is set in the same region as book #1 but features a new couple. It can be read as a stand-alone.

Review:

There aren’t words to describe the magnificent goodness of the feels in this story! Those involved in animal rescue: beware—you are going to need to have a box of tissues handy.

When Samuel Miller’s father spots the young Amish man exposing himself in the barn loft as he gazes at a neighboring man in the distance, his anger knows no bounds. After beating his son to within an inch of his life, he gives him some cash, disowns him, and sends Samuel on his way with only the clothes on his back. Naturally, he has no transportation and his walking is impeded by his never-corrected club foot—a definite disability—never mind the wounds on his back from the switch his father used to beat him.

Samuel ends up walking into Lancaster and then across the city to a homeless shelter where he barely arrives in time to spend the night. He’s up and at ’em early the next morning though. He wants—no he needs—to find work and a permanent place to stay. When one of the staff at the shelter show him an ad for a farmhand at a newly established sanctuary, he knows he must convince the man to hire him and he knows with his accent and limited vocabulary he’s going to have to do it in person.

When Eddie Graber bought his farm, he had dreams of making a sanctuary for farm animals. He’d learned about animals raised for food years before and the conditions most of the animals faced turned him off so much that he became vegan. Now he has a chance to take in animals and he’s starting with two cows. The problem is that his long-time partner and lover, Alex, backed out after Eddie signed the mortgage, leaving him to pay for everything himself and he’s not sure he’s going to make it. Add to that the fact that he doesn’t even know what to do with the two cows he has and he’s ready to pull his hair out when Samuel shows up. The young man is stunning, but his foot is so turned Eddie can’t imagine hiring him. Over the course of their meeting, however, Eddie begins to feel sorry for Samuel and ends up offering him the job.

I’m giving all this detail from the beginning of the story to set the scene of what will ultimately become a friendship, a romance, and a partnership between two unlikely people. But what steals the show in this book are the animals—from Fred and Ginger, the cows, to the three sheep that follow soon after, and the star of the show¬—Benedict—Benny the potbelly pig.

Eli Easton weaves a tale of love in her usual inimitable way, however, in this story, the love of one man for another, though strong, takes second place to the love Eddie has for the animals. His heart is bigger than his bank balance, and he’s struggling to make ends meet, fearing that he may have to give up his farm. He’s heartbroken and despondent, but thankfully supported by Samuel, who manages to get Eddie to not only open up about his problems but to let Sam share them. And then there’s Benny, the smartest pig in Pennsylvania. Benny provides the solution, though he also provides a lot of drama and a ton of tears along the way. Get the tissues out for this one.

Honestly, this is an extremely heartwarming story as well as a romance, and includes a brief bonus visit with David and Christie from Second Harvest, though this book can certainly be read as a standalone. If you are looking for feels—lots and lots of feels—by all means get this book.

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