Rowan Speedwell is one of my favorite authors in this genre, she is not as prolific as a lot of the M/M authors out there, but what she lacks in volume she more than makes up for with quality. Her previous novels Finding Zach and Kindred Hearts are two of my favorite stories in this genre. She writes beautfully and always has the redemption and new begginings theme that I love. Her characters are often broken and dark, and being the sucker I am for the angst, she usually hits all my buttons. With Love, Like Water, Rowan eased off the heart wrenching angst a bit though. This story was a lot less gut twisting, in part because she focused on both main characters equally, instead of letting us experience the story through the eyes of the more broken character. Still she wrote a very straightforward romance with all the bells and whistles necessary to have readers sighing, aawwing, and cheering for her men to get their happy ending….Now for the wine.
This novel is set in New Mexico one of my FAVORITE places on Earth. I love everything about the plce but that desert can get HOT and it is summer, so I chose a South African white wine from J. Joostenberg Winery, a small family vineyard in the Western Cape of South Africa. This white is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne grapes and the result is delicious fresh wine with hints of peach and berries, that is perfect for hot summer day. For about $11 dollars a bottle right on the cusp of my speding limit the J. Joostenberg Family Blend White is a good one to splurge on.
Now the story.
Joshua Chastain is a Federal agent that has just come out of a three year undercover assigment a completely broken man. He was in deep with one of the Latin gangs in the inner city of Chicago, he did what he was asked, he got the bad guys and enough evidence to put them away forever, but in the process he totally lost himself…At 28 he’s a recovering addict, just getting out of the rehab he had to go through for heroin. The nightmares from the things he had to do on the job are slowly driving him insane. The guilt is almost unbearable. He’s going to succumb to all that despair, all that darkness if something doesn’t change soon. His mother who can see that she’s going to loose her son if she doesn’t do something drastic, calls her brother in New Mexico and asks him take Joshua in he needs to be somewhere different, somewhere new. Tucker Chastain is happy take Joshua in, he’s very proud of his nephew and having no children of his own he’s happy to teach the ins and out of running a horse ranch to Josh so that one day he can continue the family business. So Josh goes West.
There are complications though, the main one being that Eli Kelly the foreman of The Triple C ranch is handsome, too handsome really and kind, and he makes Joshua want things that he knows a man like him with innocent people’s blood on his hands has no business wanting. Eli is a man used to working with broken animals, and he knows despair and a crushed spirit when he sees one. As soon as he lays eyes on Josh he knows that it’ll be his job to make that man feel safe adn whole again. Something about Josh makes Eli want to make him better, to protect him. Show him that he has someone to hold him up, when he can’t do it himself. Josh is so broken, he is skin and bones, and it seems like even making it through the day is a struggle. Ely and Tucker, and the other people on the ranch don’t give up on him though and despite the setbacks and Josh’s stubborness, they are able to make him see that he deserves the love that is being offered to him. That he deserves a home.
This is a pretty simple romance in many ways, which I appreaciated, there is enough angstyness in the story to make the reader savor the happy ending without the wrung out feeling that books with a premise like this one could leave you with. There were some pretty spectacular moments of delicious intimacy between Eli and Josh, those two are sizzling hot when they get in on. There are also beautiful scenes of the New Mexico landscape that really enriched the story. On a personal note I must say that the Spanish was very accurate, bad Spanish is a sticking point with me, and I have very little to complain this time. The use of the expression “mijo” did bother me a bit, but I got past it.
I loved the role the horses had in the story as well as the secondary characters. All and all this was a pretty complete love story, straight up “traditional” romance for those of us who call M/M our romance home. Humor, love, some angst, and hot cowboys having hot sex…What more can you ask for really?
Very nice, for Rowan’s fans a definite and for those who have not read her books for fear that they are too heavy this is a great one to start with.
Love, Like Water is for sale at Dreamspinner Press
That is all from me today, enjoy your book with a chilled glass of wine.
CHEERS AND HAPPY READING!