Hard Fall by James Buchanan
Series: Deputy Joe, Book 1
Published by: MLR Press on February 13, 2009
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Joe Peterson is a dedicated and respected sheriff’s deputy. He’s active in the Mormon church. He’s also gay and in the closet. But he figures it’s a secret he can keep. It’s never gotten in the way of his work or his life. But when Kabe Varghese shows up in the area, Joe’s not quite sure what to do. Kabe pushes every one of Joe’s buttons. And Kabe is also an ex-con, recently released on parole. When a mysterious death occurs on the ranch where Kabe is staying, Joe asks him to help investigate. He needs someone who can climb with him without risking a fall. But it may just be the one at risk of falling is Joe. And if he falls for Kabe, can he live with the consequences?
I’ve heard people say that coming out stories have lost their relevance. They reason that society is accepting now. They argue that people need not fear being out. And I can agree with wanting the world of “the closet” to be in the past. But the truth is that it’s not. For many people, and for many reasons, it’s still not safe to live out loud. Some communities just aren’t there yet. And many professions remain conservative. For Joe, as a Mormon and law enforcement officer, his sexuality isn’t going to go over with everyone. And even when one wants to live openly, you have to consider those outside influences.
Of course, there are characters in this book that I dislike. But I understand why they’re there. And even though this book is from a few years ago, I think the story’s still rather relevant. I plan to pick up the next book in the series when I get a chance.
Hard Fall at the MLR Press website
Title: By Chance (Courtland Chronicles, Book 1)
Author: Cat Grant
Published: February 2, 2009 (Republished 2012)
Publisher: Cat Grant
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Many would think Eric Courtland has led a charmed life. After all, his family’s wealth has helped him to eliminate obstacles and get the things he wants (including a single room even though it’s not entirely in line with policy). But getting the things you want doesn’t mean you’ll be happy as he can see firsthand in his mother and the way she is treated by his father. And he prefers to keep people at arm’s length for that very reason. But everything changes when he has a roommate forced upon him despite his objections. And to make it worse, the new roommate just happens to be attractive (albeit straight) athlete, Nick. But just as Eric is forced out of his comfort zone by having to share his living space with someone, the arrangement serves to force Nick to examine himself and who he is at the same time.
This is the first novel by Cat Grant that I’ve read, and I’m really quite impressed with her storytelling. The way she developed these two characters and their journey through this book was both realistic and interesting. I certainly look forward to reading more of this series and more from this author.
Title: Dumb Jock
Author: Jeff Erno
Publication Date: February 21, 2009
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review: It’s really difficult to find a ‘gay geek meets straight jock’ story that doesn’t just seem rife with cliches. And thankfully, I didn’t feel like Jeff Erno’s Dumb Jock is one of those stories.
When Jeff Irwin is given an ultimatum and forced to tutor Brett Willson, he is not excited to have to spend time with someone he sees as just another ‘dumb jock’ (even if he is extremely attractive). But when Brett makes some hints that he might be similarly inclined, Jeff isn’t even close to prepared for what is yet to come…
The character dynamics in this one are pretty great. The way the relationship builds, the interactions with the side characters, etc. are all spot on and I really enjoyed reading this. The main detractor for me was at a point early on in the book when Brett refers to Jeff as being like a puppy and says that no matter what he does to Jeff he knows he’ll always be loyal to him. For a YA book to seem (even in a small way) to glorify that kind of approach to relationships left me a bit uncomfortable. Even though that relationship isn’t what remains for either of the characters later in the book, there isn’t really much of a real transition away from that viewpoint. But I’m definitely interested in reading the next book in the series.
Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review: It’s often said that “the book is always better than the movie”. In every case where I’ve experienced both, I’d have to agree, making The Help no exception. I worked through this book quickly, but I found myself easily immersed into the world and lives of the characters.
One thing that differs greatly from the film is that Stockett tells the story using first-person narration from three separate points of view – Aibilene, Skeeter, and Minny. Each has a distinct voice – not only in the way they speak but also the way they see the world. There is a depth and richness to this story that goes well above the film (which I also enjoyed). The writing is very well done and I definitely look forward to another novel from Kathryn Stockett.