Title: True North
Authors: Bethany Brown & Ashlyn Kane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: GLBT (M/M) Contemporary
Novel (77,317 words)
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Guest Reviewer: Kris
Small-town engineer Jackson Strange has been clumsy his whole life, so when an accident at work sends him to the local clinic, it’s no big shock. The surprise is the magnetic, heated attraction to the enigmatic Julian Piet, a charming doctor with killer good looks that appears to treat him, sending Jack off his lonely course.
Now that their paths have crossed, Jack and Julian head off in a new direction – but between Jack’s reluctance to be open about his sexuality and Julian’s shattered self-confidence, they can’t seem to decide what direction that is. It takes a push from Julian’s meddlesome sister to send them stumbling headfirst into romance.
Happily wrapped up in their fledgling relationship, Jack and Julian think they may have found their way until unexpected roadblocks appear on their path to forever. Wrathful storms, dangerous illness, family connections, and broken hearts threaten their tenuous balance and will send them spinning apart – their love scattered to the four winds – if they cannot believe and trust that together, they can find true north.
Honesty from the outset~
Some of my thoughts about True North came together as a result of a discussion about the book I had with my English pal Jenre. (Hey, it’s one of my first reviews for the blog. Cut me some slack. *g*)
First things first~
I know I’ve connected with a story when, after reading a particular scene, I find myself saying “Oh, you cow. Tell me that doesn’t hurt them later.” (you’ll know exactly the one I’m talking about when you come across it) and then eagerly continuing to read to find out what DOES happen.
This has to be one of my favourite things about reading; when you feel like you are a participant in the characters’ journey. You share their highs and lows and are genuinely happy for them as they head towards a future together.
This was definitely the case for me with True North and, I think, reflects the fact that this book is not only character-driven, but the characters are well written and developed (let’s face it, this doesn’t always happen) as well as being appealing to the reader.
A couple of issues~
The secondary characters; Julian’s cousin and Jack’s Mum, play important roles in moving this story forward. There were a few times when Julian’s cousin especially annoyed the crap out of me, although I’m still trying to work out whether it may have been because Jack and Julian were angry with her or whether I just wanted her to go get her own life and leave them alone. Good characterisation = connection = reader’s joy.
The flow of time in this book is handled extraordinarily well. The reader gets the sense of time passing as the relationship develops, but without the stop/start you can sometimes get in novels, which can be really jarring.
The only negative about this aspect was that, towards the end, I did vaguely (and this is a key word) feel I might have missed some pivotal moments in the relationship. It was through a conversation with Jen that I realised it was not so much something was ‘missing’, rather that I, as a reader, wanted a few extra steps/scenes showing the progress of the main characters’ relationship. In particular, I would have liked to find out more about Jack’s increasing comfort and confidence in having a ‘real’ – and public – relationship with Julian.
The last (very minor) issue I had with True North was Jack’s clumsiness seemed to disappear when much was made of it at the beginning of the book. Maybe I just didn’t notice it as much as the story progressed?? *shrugs*
This is a good, solid romance, which I think those who prefer a more ‘real’ m/m contemporary romance will truly enjoy.
It is a terrific first novel from this writing team and I’ll look out for them in the future.