As I’m a somewhat firm believer in the happy ending of romances, I shocked I didn’t mind the ending. Instead the characters and their internal monologue left me bored silly and I didn’t care for any of them. I think the story is trying something interesting, giving a definite not happy ending but trying to show that there is more than one potential mate for people. Perhaps not the perfect mate but a good person that can develop into a good relationship. I like that concept a lot, even if some die hard romantics aren’t going to, but the writing is bulky and filled with unnecessary details. Then whatever potential the story has is killed by the weak characterization and ultimately while I give credit to the author for trying something different, the execution isn’t good enough to pull it off.
Lorcan is a young, naïve virgin who may look effeminate but isn’t afraid to fight if anyone assumes he’s gay. He left a comfortable home and family to look for an adventure and found himself broke and homeless on the verge of giving up. He lands on the Whispering Pines Ranch and immediately forms a connection with the owner, Quinn. Quinn is struggling against the town’s homophobe and isn’t quick to give into his feelings. When he finally does his fears about being exposed to the community push Lorcan into the arms of another man.
The main relationship is clearly between Lorcan and Quinn, who establish a strong and dynamic connection. Unfortunately this relationship never really solidifies over the course of the book. First Quinn pulls the classic romance hero move of ignoring and scowling at Lorcan all the time because Quinn can’t control his desire for Lorcan. I find this kind of tension and deliberate misunderstanding very silly and clumsy. It’s not well executed and feels like so many other bad romance books. When Quinn finally gives into his feelings for Lorcan, their passion is short lived with a dramatic event and then of course Quinn fears coming out.
Lorcan and Quinn spend much of the book mooning over each other from a far but only get together once. After they finally sleep together, Quinn then spends the rest of the book alternatively avoiding Lorcan in public and apologizing the rest of the time. It’s very tedious and not interesting. Quinn is supposed to be this strong, quiet cowboy type that struggles with his feelings but he comes across needy, clingy, and indecisive. He frequently lets obvious misunderstandings stand because he’d seemingly rather angst over the situation than clear it up.
Likewise Lorcan is a brat. He’s spoiled from a good home life, that he left for no particular reason than teenage angst, and has no compassion for Quinn. Not that Quinn deserves much but Lorcan quickly falls into a relationship with another man even while in love with Quinn. The other man is frustrating because he’s so insecure and weak that he accepts “scraps” of affection from Lorcan. This lets all the men in the book act like immature, whiny men instead of the strong cowboys they’re supposed to be.
At the same time the writing is very clumsy. The novel is littered with rhetorical questions, lazy descriptions, a very predictable plot, and weak characterization. The main relationship between Lorcan and Quinn basically doesn’t exist so it’s hard to invest in it. Lorcan’s secondary relationship is actually shown to have more depth and potential leading me to think they are better suited to each other than Lorcan and Quinn. This of course makes me wonder why I’m reading this book at all. I didn’t find it romantic, interesting, or clever. I think the idea is still good – showing that the “true love” concept can be turned on its head if a suitable person is also there – but the execution never pulls it off. I don’t believe Quinn and Lorcan have some great love; I think they want to sleep together.
Overall I found this book difficult to get through because it drove me nuts for all the above reasons. It’s not the non-happy ending that bothers me but the fact that the writing couldn’t convince me the characters are interesting or worthwhile. The main relationship is practically non-existent so I can’t imagine I’d want to read either of the two additional sequels. No doubt it’ll work out somehow but not sure they deserve it or I care about them.