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review 2018-04-21 03:17
ARC Review: Somewhere Over Lorain Road by Bud Gundy
Somewhere Over Lorain Road - Bud Gundy
Please don't let the cover confuse you into thinking this is purely an M/M romance. It's not. While there is a love story inside, this book is at its core a mystery with gay characters. It's a book about secrets, and unsolved murders, and old wounds, and family pain. It's about coming home to help your aging mother take care of your father in his last days, it's about giving an old man his dying wish. It's about terrible, horrible secrets kept for 40 years, and confronting the ghosts of your past.

Don Esker has come home to North Homestead, Ohio, where his father lies dying, and his mother and older brothers need help with the palliative care. Don has done well for himself in San Francisco, working in marketing, and is in a position where he can work from anywhere. Coming home isn't easy, as the family name is still talked about in hushed voices in connection to an unsolved crime that happened 40 years ago in 1975, when a little boy, the neighbor's and Sheriff's son, mysteriously disappeared, and two other little boys were found brutally murdered. Don's father was a suspect in the disappearance of the first boy, if only for one evening, and while he was never charged with anything, his good name has never been fully cleared. The suspicion alone shattered Don's family, and when he came out as gay, staying in town became impossible for him. Small towns and small-minded people will not forgive and not forget, and the townsfolk certainly wouldn't accept a gay man. 

In a lucid moment, Don's father asks for just one thing before he dies - to have his name cleared once and for all. Don, obliging son, begins a journey that not only brings him to Bruce, the love interest, but also face to face with his childhood friend, the brother of the missing boy, who still lives with his father, the ex-Sheriff across the street from the Esker home. It forces him to confront things of his past. Thick as thieves when they were young, Don and his friend haven't spoken in many years, longer than Don has been gone from North Homestead. There is history there. And hurt, anger, and hate. 

As the story unfolds, we are given pieces of the past, set in the 70s and 80s. There's an incident with an old fridge. There's the moment in which Mr. Esker is hauled from his home to answer questions about the disappearance of the neighbor's son. There's the moment in which Don's brother... no, I won't spoil this for you. Just do yourself a favor and read this book.

There is a moment when I knew, just KNEW, who the culprit was, thought I knew who had committed these crimes. 

And there is a moment when the truth comes out, and I was proven wrong. Except, not entirely. 

The romance between Don and Bruce doesn't really begin until the 2nd half of this book, and it's never in the forefront of the tale. There are no explicit scenes, and there didn't need to be any. It unfolds quietly, organically, and peacefully, just as it should have. These are grown, mature men, and there are no games to be played. No contrived misunderstandings. A love story. Simple. Quiet. 

Obviously, Don is not a skilled investigator, and it's often just sheer luck that he is able to find a piece he needs to solve the decades-old crime. He fumbles more often than not, which is to be expected, but he does persevere. 

The mystery is eventually solved. The truth comes out, as it always will, no matter how much time passes. I wasn't prepared for this truth. I wasn't expecting this truth. Though, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go that route, and I must applaud the author for taking this road. It humanized the perpetrator, and though it doesn't offer forgiveness, it offers a believable motive. It does also shine a bright light on deep dysfunction within a family, on emotional and psychological and physical abuse. Facades crumble under such light. Cracks appear. Truth will out.

This book, with its tight narration and unexpected turn of events, kept me glued to its pages until the very last one. It's riveting - a page turner, and masterfully written. 

Give this a try, I beg you. This isn't a romance. It's a mystery with a gay MC. It's a story about family. But it is also a love story. Absolutely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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review 2018-04-16 16:21
Officially Over Thrillers With Terrible People-You Cannot Achieve Gone Girl Status! Stop it!
You Were Made for This - Michelle Sacks

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not impact my rating or review.

 

Huge sigh. This book was a mess. At first I was momentarily intrigued because the book seemed to be setting up things with the husband in this story (Sam) to be sinister. All of his rules for mothers/wives seemed to be playing that way. But then you get further into the book, and when Merry's "best friend" Frank comes to visit, the book just goes freaking dark. I just needed something to break up this mess. There was nothing redeeming about a single character. You don't even get a semblance of characters getting their just desserts. Instead you know that it seems that the cycle will continue again in maybe 10 or 20 years. This book gets one star for taking place in Sweden. That's about it. 

 

"You Were Made for This" is about a husband and wife (Sam and Merry) who move to Sweden to live in a house that is left to Sam. There are some allusions to something happening that caused the family to move. But you never get the full details. Just other characters blurting out things later on dozens of pages later. 


Sam is happy in Sweden, but struggling to make ends meet. He used to be a professor at a university in New York. And now is trying to be a filmmaker. 


Merry used to be a set decorator (that sounded cool and wish we had gotten more details about) but is now a full time mother to her son Conor. Merry is not feeling seen anymore as a stay at home mother. Instead she is trying to follow the rules for motherhood that Sam seems to think she needs to do (which includes making homemade baby food and scrubbing the whole house with organic ingredients). Merry I was initially sympathetic to, but Sacks blows that away pretty quickly when you find out about the darkness in Merry. Merry is dreading, but also wants her best friend Frances (known as Frank) to come visit.

 

Frank and Merry have a toxic friendship. There is no other word for it. I just could not with Frank once you saw everything she had done in the past, and what she currently did in this book. Her talking about being the only one to "see" Merry was just head shaking to me. 

 

Merry wants to show off for Frank to show her "that she's won" and Frank is not worth as much since she's not married and has no children. That could have been an interesting dynamic with two women who chose two different paths. Heck even show the dark side of motherhood and talk about post par-tum depression. Instead we don't get that at all.

 

Sam is obviously awful, you don't really get why Merry wants to be with him. You do get why he wants to be with her though. He has someone to mold into whatever he wants. There are some hints there that something dark happened to Sam. Once again though, you don't know since the author doesn't like to spell things out. I for one got really tired of people talking past things. 

The secondary characters that we get (there are barely any) don't figure into this book at all really. We have Merry and Sam's closest neighbors who are there merely to move the plot along. 

 

I really didn't like the writing. The multiple POVs with Merry, Sam, and Frank didn't help. They all started to sound the same after a while (psychopaths with the need for instant gratification). And the book started to feel endless after a while along with being repetitive. 

 

The setting of Sweden was the only reason why I gave this book a star. I was intrigued about the location, the mention of the lakes, the ability to be truly alone if you want to be in the place that Merry and Sam lived. 


The ending was a mess. I think that Sacks should have changed the ending. It felt like such a waste to me to have to wade through this book for no reason in my opinion. I think she was going for a Gone Girl twist, but it didn't work. I just sighed really loudly at this point because you are given enough context clues that it seems the cycle would just continue for all parties. 

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text 2018-04-16 15:20
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
You Were Made for This - Michelle Sacks

A book about terrible people doing terrible things to each other. 

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text 2018-04-16 02:08
Reading progress update: I've read 40%.
You Were Made for This - Michelle Sacks

Everyone is terrible. The husband (Sam) the wife (Merry) and her supposed best friend (Frank). With friends like these, who needs enemies.

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text 2018-04-16 01:11
Reading progress update: I've read 27%.
You Were Made for This - Michelle Sacks

Good grief the wife is just as bad. Literally thought of her best friend as peasant stock and talking about keeping her in her place when she visits.

 

I'm wondering how the wife hasn't murdered hubby yet though?

 

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