A guest review by Jenre
This long awaited follow up to A Red Tainted Silence showed flashes of the brillance of that first book but failed to completely deliver for me.
Musician Lee Nelson is determinedly single. His bandmates don’t even know he is gay. He’s managed to keep that important fact about himself, as well as any details of his painful past, out of conversation. But the past starts to catch up with him when the band travels to Dallas, Texas, and an anonymous gift of ballet tickets leads him to ballet dancer Gevan Sinclair–his first love’s brother.
Gev is a professional ballet dancer, but just as the past has its grip on Lee Nelson, so too does Gev struggle–namely, with the disappearance of his brother, Stefan. Gev had always had a crush on Lee Nelson, but crushes are for kids and he’d forgotten all about Lee until the day he looked up after a performance and saw him in the balcony, hungrily watching his every move.
Gev and Lee are drawn together when Gev’s roommate is killed, and they must face their fears and escape the stranglehold of the past to solve the mystery that keeps them apart…and make a long journey home.
Long Way Home is a sort of follow on story to the tremendously popular A Red Tainted Silence which I reviewed here. Fans of that book have been waiting years for more from this author and so there’s a certain amount of expectation behind this book. For me, having only read A Red Tainted Silence last year, the wait has not been too long and whilst I was looking forward to this book, I didn’t come to it with the fervour that some readers have. Perhaps that is why, whilst some of the book absolutely shone for me, for the most part I felt it to be a little unrealistic and overblown.
The story continues almost directly from the previous book, although I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have read the previous book to understand this one. Here the focus is on Lee, the bass player of Nick and Brandon’s band, Dream. The story begins as the band is winding up its very successful tour. Nick is puzzled when he receives anonymous tickets for the ballet at their final tour destination of Dallas, and persuades Lee to come with him. In fact the tickets were for Lee, and when they watch the ballet, Lee is shocked to discover that one of the dancers is Gev, who is the brother of Lee’s best friend from childhood, Stefan. Stefan was snatched from the park as a young teen and never seen again, and Lee has carried the guilt of this around for years. The pair get together after the show and it’s at that point that life begins to change for both of them, starting with a grizzly murder.
I’m going to start with what didn’t work for me. The story is pretty much a roller-coaster ride all centred around a series of terrible events, murder, attempted murder, bombings, violent acts, and a final dramatic showdown. Listed this way, it makes the story sound very exciting, and taken at a basic level it was. However, it also had the effect of making it all a bit too busy, especially when there are so many secondary characters fitted into the story. What I also found, much to my annoyance, was that each time something dramatic happened it was never dealt with in a realistic fashion or it was dismissed. After the initial murder and the investigation, which was done in a realistic way, every time something happened to Lee or Gev, they just seemed to walk away from it without dealing with it properly. By rights the two men should spent most of the time at the police station either reporting incidents or answering questions, but that never happened. In a way I can understand, it would be a dull book indeed if they had done that, but I spent far too much time whilst reading thinking that you just wouldn’t act in that way. Another reason I found it overblown was because the bad guy was far too much the cartoon villain. Even when all was revealed I thought that the whole thing that happened 15 years before could have been avoided with a call to the police and a restraining order. It just added to the lack of realism.
One final, and more minor niggle was that there was a continuity error in regard to Gev’s dancing job. At the beginning of the story Gev tells us that he now doesn’t have any rehearsals because they are going to be rehearsing something new soon and so are taking a break. Then, almost the next day he has to go into work because of a scheduled rehearsal. we are also told during the book that Gev could take two weeks off dancing but towards the end of the book he says he needs to go back to the studio because he is tightening up after two days. This error, plus a name switch during the book is very unusual for this publisher, and pulled me out of the story a little.
Having said that, one of the plus points for me with this book was Gev’s career as a dancer. In fact one of my favourite scenes is when Gev is dancing with a ballerina and we see how much he loves dancing. The scene then switches to Lee who is watching Gev, aroused by the display of talent. It was a pivotal moment in their relationship and one which sent shivers down my spine. In general I liked the romance part between Lee and Gev, especially in the pull and push between them. This author writes very convincing emotional scenes, and it was when the story focused on the development of the romance, or the emotional impact of the events in the book that was when the story really shone for me. This was particularly true in the loving relationship that Gev has with his sister and nephew. Gev grows a lot in this story and his sister is a support for him the whole time. I liked the way that family was used in this way, especially as it contrasted with Lee’s loner status.
So, overall, whilst I enjoyed parts of this book, I also found that the sheer amount of plot, character and action scenes muddied the waters and that the lack of realism left me a little unconvinced by the story. I’m not giving up on this author though and hope that there won’t be such a long gap until the next book.