Old Town New, by B.A. Tortuga
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (3rd Edition)
Release Date: April 20, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Danny is a teacher in small town Colorado, trying to live down his wild teenage years and living his life the only way he knows how; one day at a time. He’s had a tough time of it, but Danny figures he’s managed to become respectable, or at least less than notorious. The last person he expects to ever see back in town is Harlan Quinn, his old best friend and consummate bad boy. And when he finds out Quinn is the new Sheriff it’s even more of a shock.
Quinn knows there’s more to his old hometown than meets the eye. There’s trouble brewing, big enough trouble that he’s willing to go undercover to figure out who’s behind it. Quinn knows there’s more to Danny than old memories and quiet living, too. There was a lot of passion in his old friend once upon a time, and he’s willing to bet it’s still there if he scratches the surface. He sets out to stir things up in more ways than one, pushing Danny to admit that there’s more to life than he has, and that their old town just might manage to be new again.
I did not find Old Town New to be a particularly compelling read. There was nothing wrong with it, but I had a very difficult time immersing myself in the story and connecting with the two main characters.
The author has a very lean writing style that relies on a lot of curt dialog and equally abbreviated inner monologue to tell the story. Since the main characters seem to be men of few words (which makes sense based on their personalities and background), it made it difficult for me to connect with them.
To compound that problem, there was little to no attempt at using imagery or even basic descriptions of the physical surroundings in order to set the scenes throughout the book. It leaves me thinking that the entire story might as well have taken place on an empty stage, or in a vacuum, as opposed to a small town in Colorado. I don’t mean that I expect extensive prose on the color of the sky or a map of the neighborhood, but sometimes basic descriptions go a long way to paint a picture or set the tone to help draw the reader in.
There was however, a lot of description when it came to the sex scenes. And there were many, many sex scenes; it seemed like there was one in every chapter. I’m usually a fan of sex scenes, even if they’re gratuitous (sex doesn’t always have to further the plot or strengthen the MC’s relationship), but the sex in Old Town New got old pretty fast. There was a lot of one-worded panting and moaning (“Babe… want… need… love…” – you get the idea) and I really feel that the author’s perfunctory writing style did not do the two men any favors in the bedroom.
I liked that the two characters were best friends and lovers back in high school. In the story, Quinn returns to his home town as the new sheriff to find his friend Dan much changed due to sustaining severe injuries from an old accident. I liked the instant reconnection and attraction the two men shared, and I appreciated the intimate scenes in which Quinn explores Dan’s scarred body. Although one such scene went a bit sideways for me when Quinn likened his own tattoo to Dan’s scars and referred to them as a “rite of passage.”
Personally, I’m not a fan of the “being gay in a small conservative town” trope, and sure enough, I was frustrated watching Dan meekly accept his lot in life and put up with blatant discrimination and harassment. However, all’s well that ends well for the two men with – you guessed it – another sex scene thrown in for good measure.
I would venture to say this is not B.A. Tortuga’s best work compared to some of the other books in her extensive backlist.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but is feeling the Colorado mountains calling. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.
Buy Old Town New from the publisher.
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.