Holden tries to resist the attraction. But painfully shy yet definitely interested Adam Morgan has Holden longing to conquer his debilitating anxiety and live again. After a grisly discovery on the grounds of the estate, the town of Smithfield turns a suspicious eye on the reclusive Holden—and the two men must trust in each other to bring the truth out in the open.
The dog gave a miniature bark. “I need to take the dog out,” my brother said as if he owned a dog.
“Holden, I got a dog.”
I suppose that Adam has Aspberger’s syndrome but it isn’t explicitly spelled out. He has difficulty reading social cues and this has made it challenging for him to be openly gay as misunderstandings can lead to fist fights. What it did though, was force Holden to be direct and specific so that Adam clearly understood his message. (I actually heard someone on a podcast recently suggest that all men would benefit in being spoken to as if they had Aspberger’s because it would stop a lot of misunderstandings). Adam wasn’t weak though – it is Holden who can’t leave the house. It made for a nice balance between them and gave an opportunity to show Adam as being strong and smart when he was the younger (by 16 years) and less experience partner. Because both of them had their weaknesses, I found it easier to believe they would also see each other’s strengths and the age difference would therefore not have a huge impact. I think if Holden hadn’t been agoraphobic he could easily have seen Adam as less than equal. As it was, he was forced to acknowledge his own weakness and Adam’s greater ability in that area and that evened things out I think.
I like how the Men of Smithfield series is only loosely linked – you could really read any one of the books out of order and miss nothing of any significance. Trooper Tony Gervase only appears when he has a job to do in the story and there are no cameos without a plot driven reason, which is nice to see.
The mystery made sense and had a satisfying ending and by the end of the book, I was confident that Holden had started to get a handle on his agoraphobia and would eventually be able to enjoy life outside even if I wasn’t convinced he would ever be a world traveller again. The story does take place over only a few days so there is a bit of suspension of disbelief necessary to accept the mutual “I love you” exchanged so early, but I was prepared to go with it.
I don’t quite have a picture in my head of how big Smithfield is but I hope it has a large gay populations because I’d love to read more stories set here.
What else? There was one thing I found a bit difficult to reconcile. Holden describes himself during the course of the book as a gay man who “flames” and also as a “rugged and manly” man. He also doesn’t like gay men who “swish”. I thought flaming and being swishy were version of the same thing but I’m no expert on the subject. I can’t quite get my head around a rugged flamer combo. This made it a little difficult to get a handle on Holden actually. I felt my mental piture of him was unclear. It’s a small niggle really I guess and I did enjoy the book even if the whole romance was tremendously fast.