In the Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 10, 2015)
Page Count: 369 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Summary: Daniel has never fit in anywhere; being wiry, tattooed, and gay has made him a target for his mechanic (and homophobic) brothers and father, and growing up poor made him an outcast among his Ivy League classmates. He’s about to receive his PhD, and has finally landed a job interview at a tiny college in middle-of-nowhere, Michigan. Things are finally looking up, until he swerves to avoid a dog on his way home from his interview, running his car into a tree.
Rex is a bit of a hermit, living alone in a cabin outside of the small town of Holiday, Michigan. He’s a shy, quiet carpenter who’s built like a linebacker, but abhors violence of any kind. When he rescues Daniel and an injured dog in the middle of the woods one night, he’s immediately attracted to the man with the gorgeous tattoos.
My Thoughts: This was a really gorgeous romance, with some lovely writing and quirky, interesting characters that really drew me in. I will say that the summary from the publisher’s website doesn’t do the novel justice at all, and actually almost put me off of reading this book. I’m glad that I read reviews on Goodreads and Amazon first, which convinced me to give this a try.
The novel starts out awkwardly, but eventually blooms into a fantastic character study of two men who don’t fit in with the rest of the world. I almost put the book down in disgust when Rex kissed Daniel after only knowing him for a few minutes (this is not a spoiler, it literally happens on page 25 or so), but thankfully the rest of the book improved dramatically. Daniel is almost unlikeable in many ways, because he’s grown up surrounded by people who don’t love him, and has no real understanding of love or trust. With his only friend, Ginger, he’s managed to scrape by and find his way, but it’s obvious that the lack of affection or respect from those around him has affected his ability to interact with other people.
Rex was the winner in this novel, though! He’s a series of contrasts: muscled and intimidating, but incredibly kind and caring; a carpenter and handyman who loves being in the kitchen; and a brilliant man who has been told too many times that he’s not smart enough. Even though the novel is told from Daniel’s POV, it’s Rex that keeps him (and the plot) grounded and cohesive.
There were definitely some writing flaws, which I expect from a new author, although I’m surprised and disappointed that the editor didn’t catch them. Certain words were really over-used (especially during sex scenes), and some of the dialogue was immature and out of character. But as much as I normally hate poor writing in a novel, it didn’t bother me too much here; the plot and characters are solid, even if the prose could be cleaned up considerably.
Overall I would totally recommend this novel, and can’t wait for more books in this series. While the novel did take me a little while to get into, it eventually evened out into a great story from first-time author Roan Parrish. Give it a try, and don’t let the beginning scare you off like it almost did for me; the ride is worth it, I promise!
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