Carrick Francis has spent most of his life jumping into trouble with both feet. The only thing saving him from prison or worse is his absolute devotion to Deacon Winters. Deacon was Crick’s sanity and salvation during a miserable, abusive childhood, and Crick would do anything to stay with him forever. So when Deacon’s father dies, Crick puts his college plans on hold to help Deacon as Deacon has helped him.
Deacon’s greatest wish is to see Crick escape his memories and the town they grew up in so Crick can enjoy a shining future. But after two years of growing feelings and temptation, the painfully shy Deacon finally succumbs to Crick’s determined advances and admits he sees himself as part of Crick’s life.
It nearly destroys Deacon when he discovers Crick has been waiting for him to push him away, just like Crick’s family did in the past. When Crick’s knack for volatile decisions lands him far away from home, Deacon is left, shell-shocked and alone, struggling to reforge his heart in a world where love with Crick is a promise, but by no means a certainty.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
[I love the cover.]
Keeping Promise Rock takes you on an emotional journey. There were several moments when you laugh, cry, and yell at the book and by the end, you’re likely to be thoroughly exhausted but satisfied. The story is very intense and this is the kind of emotional investment that has to have a big happy ending pay off for the drama the characters and reader are inflicted before the end. That’s not to say this is a long book filled with doom and gloom because it’s not. It’s filled with incredible love, happiness, sadness, heart break, and mending old wounds on the way to a satisfying happy ever after. This isn’t a light read but one that will stay with you and completely satisfies.
The blurb is pretty accurate in describing the plot and the essential elements. This is a love story between Crick and Deacon from when they first meet – for 9 y/o Crick, it’s love at first sight – to their final happy ending over a decade later. They move from young friends to lovers to dealing with separation and incredible hardship before being able to finally be together as they’d like. The plot is mostly character driven with a good deal of the action coming from Deacon’s family horse ranch. The story is told from both men’s third person point of view as they struggle with their choices and issues.
Both men are somewhat broken, made more so by their own actions together and apart, so at times the story is heart wrenching to read. Often I found myself tearing up as one or the other’s issues and problems would cause pain or heart break for those around them but the saving grace is not only that these characters finally learn from their mistakes but their honest emotions just suck you into the story and its intensity. I yelled at them when they made mistakes, cried when they were heart broken, laughed when they were happy, and generally rode along side the emotional journey. It’s been a while since I’ve been this invested in a story and the great writing, characters, and angst are the reason.
Crick is a difficult, troubled young man. He comes from an abusive, neglectful home with pretty stereotypical and slightly over the top parents. His abandonment and rejection issues color everything in his youth and his impetuous, often flat out stupid mistakes cause a lot of pain for everyone around him, especially Deacon. Yet the deft touch to the writing never create an unlikable character as Crick is saved both by his eventual, if seriously slow, maturing and by the depth of Deacon’s love. Crick is a great three dimensional character with some serious flaws, hurtful actions, selfish immaturity, and great devotion. Once he realizes the truth, he throws himself full tilt towards that end but it does take him a while to get there.
The other half of the emotional relationship is Deacon. Early on in the story Crick has serious hero worship for Deacon and thus he comes across as too good to be true, as seen through Crick’s eyes. But Deacon’s own abandonment issues and selflessness, to the point of self destruction, create a more complex, compelling man. He comes across as much older than his chronological age and the depth of his emotions are pretty incredible. He feels everything so much more deeply and intensely than even Crick and those around him so when he is in pain that translates incredibly well to the reader. While I loved the character of Deacon for his flawed, complicated personality, he takes the martyr complex too far. He has little motivation and identity away from Crick and this ultimately is hard to read at times.
The cast of secondary characters is a good mix of friends and typical anti-gay sentiments in a small town. These tend to be more stereotypical but nothing bad and they all add to the story with a real purpose. The final resolution to some of the problems feels a bit silly (the horses/faires) but it didn’t take anything away from the book. The pace tends to be a slow build, which I personally didn’t mind since I was so invested from the very beginning, but if you’re not interested in the characters, this could drag slowly for some readers. Additionally I think I’ve made it clear but there is a lot of angst in this book. There are tears but not too many; instead there is quite a bit of emotional pain and angst everyone goes through. The solid ending and happy ever after are equally satisfying for the investment, so don’t be afraid to delve into it. I could go on and on but there are quite a few other reviews about the book as well so I’ll stop here and just say, If you like angsty men and intense stories, Keeping Promise Rock completely delivers.
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