Love Means….No Shame by Andrew Grey
Geoff is in the city, living the gay life to the hilt, when his father’s death convinces him to return to the family farm. Discovering a young Amish man asleep in his barn, Geoff learns that Eli is spending a year away from the community before accepting baptism into the church. Despite their mutual attraction, Geoff is determined not to become involved with him, but Eli has discovered that Geoff shares his feelings and begins to court him, neatly capturing first Geoff’s attention and then his heart. Their budding relationship is threatened by closed-minded, gossipy relatives and the society at large, a whole new world to Eli, and he must decide whether to return to the community, his family, and the world and future he knows or to stay with Geoff and have faith in the power of love.
Parts of this book are interesting with a deep emotional connection but unfortunately the very uneven pacing drags the action and length of the book out. Also most of the conflict is resolved and told off page so the reader is unable to experience some of the problems and emotions as the characters do. Mostly this is a sweet, easy romance that throws a little texture in by way of bigoted attitudes but really those attitudes impact very little in the main relationship. The writing is average with some painful editing mistakes and awkward prose choices, but the strong relationship may draw some readers in enough to ignore those problems.
Geoff returns to his family home after his father dies from cancer. Geoff must now run the farm and in doing so, he discovers a local Amish man sleeping in the barn. The young man, Eli, is on a year away from his community and accepts Geoff’s offer to work and live at the farm. Eli and Geoff have a strong attraction that neither fights too hard but soon Eli realizes his actions may have deep ramifications on his Amish family.
The story is decent enough but there is very little actual action. Geoff returns to the farm and he and Eli date rather quickly. They’re together for a short time before Eli realizes that his Amish family may be affected by his actions and chooses to return to the community. Once there, though, Eli is unhappy and does return to Geoff. Unfortunately the story is told in third person POV from Geoff’s perspective which greatly limits the potential of the book. What motivates Eli, how he deals with the new culture, community, his sexuality, and the problems inherent against his upbringing is never brought into the story at all. Instead Eli is very easy going, loving, and accepting of everything. His reasons for returning to Geoff and how he can reconcile the potential problems to his family – the very reason he left in the first place – is never resolved. Instead there is a vague statement that Eli will deal with that if it happens. Considering the concerns were enough to leave the love of his life, Geoff, this weak rationalization felt ineffectual and unsatisfying.
Furthermore, the emotional and intense scenes seemed to be brushed over quickly while day to day activities are drawn out almost to the point of boring. The prose is made up of short, quick sentences lacking description but stating action. Such as “Geoff walked to the door. He looked outside.” This is punctuated with often awkward prose and dialogue which contradicts with word choices.
There are also several conflicts brought up that aren’t resolved such as the aunt’s damaging gossip. This is mentioned several times and even alluded to the reason that Geoff, Raine, and Eli are attacked in town yet other than Geoff’s decision to cut the aunt out of his life, no action is taken or mentioned. Clearly if this gossip is enough to provoke violence and potentially affect Geoff’s farm, then something else must be done. However, nothing is mentioned and if action occurs it is off page. Other examples such as this create the feel of unimportant details added in for texture and mild conflict. The relationship between Eli and Geoff is mostly conflict free and easy as they slowly and gradually explore the physical side of their relationship while going about their lives. There is the small problem of Eli leaving, which while an emotional scene, is muted by the lack of intensity and the easy, off page resolution.
Overall I was mostly bored reading this story and felt the writing didn’t help much unfortunately. The pacing is inconsistent with extended scenes of mundane detail and often barely skimming by any emotional tension. The ending, while sweet, is completely unsatisfying with an off page resolution and no additional insight into the characters choices and thoughts. The majority of any action is told rather than shown and thus the reader is presented with a story that holds no connection and no energy. As a sweet, bland romance, perhaps this will appeal to some fans but the lack of tight writing and interesting dialogue is enough to recommend better choices.
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