Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.
Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.
Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.
Review: Kim Fielding is my new “go to” author when I need an extraordinary story with moments of angst and with characters so human I want to reach out and hug them.
Jeremy Cox, known as Chief to most people, is the head Park Ranger in the Portand, Oregon area. Having escaped from his Kansas roots where he was chubby and gay and bullied by most of his high school peers, he never looked back. Even his parents, who ostensibly love him, never really accepted him for who he is, so he hasn’t seen them in years and keeps his contact to a minimum. He enjoys his job, and he enjoys the opportunity to spend his spare time looking out for those who need help—mostly homeless adults and teens, finding them shelter or whatever else they may need to get through another day.
His best friend, Rhoda, owns P-Town, a local coffee shop and hangout for students and others who just want a place with good food and good caffeine. There he meets Qayin Hill, a guy who seems familiar, and who is in his mid-forties, around Jeremy’s age. At first Qay denies having met Jeremy, but he enjoys the attention of the big, muscular ranger, until their first kiss when he realizes he has to tell Jeremy he is Keith Moore, the boy who jumped from a bridge in Jeremy’s hometown. Qay’s past is dark, and he’s upfront with Jeremy about being clean from drugs for seven years, but he refuses to go into why he chose to jump from the bridge when he was a teen and disappear from Bailey Falls forever.
Qay attends community college part time, though he’s not sure what he’ll ever do with a degree if he survives long enough to get one. Low man on the totem pole at a window factory, Qay has all he can do to put one foot in front of the other some days. It doesn’t help that his social anxiety and mental health issues have interfered in any relationships he’s ever attempted. But he’s willing to try with Jeremy, and Jeremy welcomes him into his life with open arms.
Unfortunately, Jeremy has his own bad luck with men, and when his former boyfriend, Donny, turns up dead the day after he showed up at Jeremy’s apartment, bleeding and bruised, Jeremy’s life takes a turn for the worse.
What follows is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s also action-packed, heart-stopping drama with kidnapping, breakdowns, and reunions as the author takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride.
These characters are ones I’m not likely to forget. Their stories are realistic, their pain genuine. Apparently, this is book one in a new series, and I hope future stories will either continue this couple’s story or at least feature them as secondary characters so we can watch their progress, even if it’s one step forward and two steps back. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of contemporary MM romance, and if you love stories of hurt-comfort or those that feature men over 40, drug addiction, mental health issues, or social differences, this one will be perfect for you.