Love Can’t Conquer, by Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
It’s always a refreshing change to read about MC’s that are a little older and a little wiser than your average twenty-somethings. And if there is one think Kim Fielding does really well, it’s to write about older MC’s. Her men are a little weathered, a little beaten-up by life but they’re survivors. They rely on their wits and their strength of spirit to keep pushing on, never giving up on life despite the obstacles and roadblocks that have been put in their way. Jeremy and Qayin (Hebrew for Cain) are no exception.
Both men are still haunted by the ghosts of their youth, but have handled them in completely different ways. Raised by indifferent parents and bullied by his peers, Jeremy bailed on his hometown as soon as he was able and started a new life for himself in Portland as a Park Ranger. Known as ‘Chief’ to his friends and acquaintances, he has taken it upon himself to ensure that any at-risk youth he comes across are given the chance to access hot meals and a safe place to sleep. Even his drug-addicted ex boyfriend is given assistance when he unexpectedly shows up on Jeremy’s doorstep in need of medical attention and a place to crash for the night.
While Jeremy honed his savior complex, Qay took the route of drugs and alcohol to deal with his childhood demons. After suffering abuse at the hands of his father and being unfairly blamed for his brother’s death, Qay turned an unsuccessful suicide attempt into an opportunity to leave his past behind and become someone new. Sober for a number of years, he lands a menial job at a glass factory in Portland. Grateful for a steady paycheck, he ignores the bullying tactics of his boss and focuses on his sobriety and his community college classes.
When the two men meet, they are encumbered with the kind of baggage you only get with age. But watching them learning to love and trust one another is both difficult and lovely. For me, it’s infinitely satisfying to see two older MC’s finally letting go of all the bad things in their lives and live unencumbered by the low expectations of others.
This isn’t going to be your big, feel good book. There are some dark moments and the Portland rain that pervades throughout the story is reflective of the general mood. But we do get to see two flawed men overcome their pasts, work through their demons and come out of it stronger and united. To me, that’s what a real love story is about. Learning to accept the faults of your partner, being strong when they are weak and trusting one another where trust never existed before. I thought this story was quite beautiful, even in it’s dark moments.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
Find Kim on her website at http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/
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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.