Born into a blue-collar family, John Wells beat the odds and came out a winner. As chief of staff to Patrick Donovan, a US senator and aspiring presidential candidate, he enjoys all the power and privilege of a DC insider. But while riding high on a wave of success, he's blindsided by a series of betrayals from the people he trusts the most. In the space of a single day, John's perfect life unexpectedly unravels when his career falters and his marriage implodes. Following a final, devastating blow, John assumes a new identity as "Peter" and flees to Provincetown, where a tight-knit community of eclectic characters slowly transforms him.
Peter finds himself drawn to Danny Cavanaugh, an enigmatic carpenter who is struggling to come to terms with his own troubled past. As they work together to renovate a local landmark, the two men forge an unlikely friendship that blossoms into love and becomes the foundation for a new life they hope to build together. But when a reversal of fortune pulls John back to DC, the treacherous world of politics he thought he'd left behind threatens to destroy his chance at true happiness.
©2014 Will Freshwater (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
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"I just didn't connect with the story"
First, this is tagged in some places as m/m romance. It is not. It's a contemporary fiction novel. Second, my review is entirely subjective based on my emotional response to the story. Obviously, other reader reactions will, and have, vary.
John Peter Wells is the out and proud chief of staff for Senator Patrick Donovan. John enjoys his career success, but his relationship with his boyfriend, David, is a casualty of his career. He and David split, and further shock comes when his career and the life he's built is also ripped away from him within a single day.
Hurting and reeling from everything that happens, John leaves DC and winds up in Provincetown where he transforms himself from career-centric and focused "John" into "Peter" who takes each day as it comes. He lives in the quiet town dealing with his pain and grief, meeting and getting to know the other inhabitants of the town. Peter ends up falling for local carpenter, Danny Cavanaugh, who is dealing with his own loss and past. For six months Peter lives and learns to love, until John's unexpectedly called back to DC to the world of politics he left behind.
The narration is good. Nick J. Russo does a good job with the pacing, the character voices, and the tone.
As for the story, I didn't care for the fact that it is mostly all "tell", with nothing really being "shown". While the prose is gentle and flows well for the most part, the multiple POVs, including the almost split personality of John/Peter was strange to me. I never really got used to it. Additionally, I disliked main character John/Peter quite a lot, and I never warmed up to him. Also, I found quite a few points of the story (i.e.: the letter that isn't read until the very end, the romantic relationship that happens entirely off page, the handling of the politics, and John's ex David) to be frustrating.
Ultimately, I just didn't connect with the story, writing or characters.
I have checked three times, and it seems this book really is published by Dreamspinner. It's hard to believe because it so well written, so mature and intelligent, and features actual gay men.
It's basically story of a grief-stricken man, filled with regret, having a mid-life crisis and reinventing his life. He finds a simpler and more authentic life in a small community, as well as finding new love (eventually).
This is literary fiction featuring gay characters, rather than romance genre writing. If you like a saintly suburban housewife in the guise of a gay man who dreams of little beyond marriage and children, this book isn't for you. If you like realistically flawed and believably gay and male characters, written intelligently and convincingly, then it is.
There is little more to say, without giving more away, than this is an excellent book with excellent narration (apart from a woeful attempt at Scottish accent). I hope to hear many more from this author soon and pre-order anything that he got published.
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