We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Review: April Kelley's "Whispers of Home" is a story about a small town boy named Jaron whose home life was not the greatest and being openly gay didn't help matters. He was bullied, his only friend wouldn't stick up for him and his living parent didn't seem to care about him. Jaron runs away soon after high school graduation into the big city. There he makes friends of the unsavory sort and ends up becoming a father to a friend's baby, Bobby. Years later a traumatic event sends him back home to Pickleville.
He reunited with his estranged mother and contact his best friend. Jaron catches the eye of cowboy farmer and ex high school crush, Travis. Travis has a reputation of being a womanizer. But Travis also has a secret, he's bisexual and never explored with a man. Until he sees Jaron, he wants to explore him.
The start of the story is a little weak but I got a sense of Jaron. I felt sorry for the guy. Looking back, the prologue gave a good introduction. Present day Jaron was prickly and somewhat cautious - I enjoy main characters like that. Travis was friendly and wouldn't quit after he saw his man. I also like that. Bobby was a cute kid in the beginning, toward the end he was kind of annoying. He wasn't obnoxious or adult like for the most part. Plus for that. Small town romances can be fun, the story was in the right vein for the first half or so. The back and forth, first gropes of love, etc - it's nice.
There were issues, of course that caused me to lower my rating.
The first one? Bobby's teacher had a "blue tongue ring". Jaron's first thought: "Wow! That was a little lesbian-ish. Totally did not get that vibe from her." I won't argue about people with tongue rings and their sexual orientation. Hopefully just reading that quote alone will point out the error in its way.
Even with that bad quote the story was still swimming in the 3 - 3.5 Hearts range until 83%.
The story nosedived into WTF-ville:
The main couple have sex in front of Jaron's best friend, Brian, to prove their love for one another.
"I'm not going to cheat on you. Whatever we do, we do it together."
Suddenly Jaron understood why Travis was allowing Brian to view their lovemaking. "That's why you're letting him watch. Even though you don't like it. To prove sex is about our connection to each other."
Um...what? *scratches head* I read this bit quite a few times and I'm still lost.
Now I think the intent was to add more heat to the story. But...an unexplained voyeurism scene that comes out of left field when both men clearly stated they wanted to be monogamous in all things and weren't interested in anyone else, being possessive of one another and they automatically figure they'd throw a bone to Jaron's best friend (who has been in love with Jaron BTW and hadn't visited him in years) and "make love" for him to witness. But said best friend better not talk. *smh*
Jaron wasn't into it. Travis wasn't into it. Why would this scene happen? From what was written about both men, this was 1000% out of character for them. Ruined a moment, in my opinion.
The story had potential. It wasn't going to win any awards but it was closer to solid if it stayed on course with Jaron and Travis falling in love, learning how to become a couple and family without trying so had for an erotic edge.
Here are a few examples of areas that needed work:
- Jaron briefly mentioned being a rentboy, he had some PTSD about a couple of bad tricks - not explored.
- Bobby's mother is murdered in front of Bobby - the trauma was not explored. (The son was clingy in the beginning and then he suddenly opens up to strangers)
- The murder case and friendship with the detective? Not explored.
- Travis' feelings and thoughts on being in a relationship with a man rather than other people's reactions. Not explored.
The main characters were okay. Minus the out of character moment of 83% - the theme of a childhood crush finally becoming your partner in the future is a favorite of mine. That theme was decent.
Would I recommend? Proceed with caution.
I'll probably check for the second book in the series because ignoring the sloppy last 20% filled with drama & sugar and missed opportunities, the main idea wasn't bad.