Book Reviews

Promises (Coda 1) by Marie Sexton at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Officers of the Law / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 15-May-2019

Book Blurb

Can a man who loves his small hometown trust it to love him back?


Jared Thomas has lived in the mountain town of Coda, Colorado, his whole life. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. But Jared’s opportunities are limited—the only other gay man in town is twice his age, and although Jared originally planned to be a teacher, the backlash that might accompany the gig keeps him working at his family’s store instead.


Then Matt Richards moves to town.


Matt may not be into guys, but he doesn’t care that Jared is. A summer camping and mountain biking together cements their friendship, but when Matt realizes he’s attracted to Jared, he panics and withdraws, leaving Jared all too aware of what he’s missing.


Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s coworkers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together. But for the first time, he has the courage to try… if he can only convince Matt.



Includes the Coda series prequel novella, Meant to Be

Jared has simple goals for his freshman year of college: make friends, lose his virginity, come out, and maybe fall in love. He doesn’t anticipate getting caught between his friend Bryan and Bryan’s flamboyant ex. Through the awkwardness, Jared learns love doesn’t always mean sex and the most meaningful connections might have nothing to do with romance.



First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, January, 2010.

Book Review

I originally read this book quite a few years ago and immediately fell for the small town of Coda, the characters, and the author. Having it rerelease with a stunning new cover is kind of like revisiting a beloved friend for a glass of wine, a lot of laughs, some incredible memories, and a lot of sentimentality. In other words, a really fantastic time.

I had almost forgotten how much I adore Jared although I don’t really understand him, to be honest. Then again, I’ve never lived in one place my whole life, much less a small town, so I suppose I don’t relate to the concept of loving a geographical place so much that I would willingly sacrifice some of the things that make me happy. I definitely love and appreciate his relationship with his mom, brother, and sister-in-law, but not feeling comfortable enough with his neighbors, so to speak, to be able to teach at the high school for fear of repercussions would have had me living my life somewhere else and coming to visit my family. And that doesn’t even include Jared being alone with no potential prospects for a love life.

I felt horrible watching Matt struggle with his emotions, trying to comprehend how he could feel this way about a man, and attempting to be the best human being he could be with all the different expectations placed on him. But he really hurt Jared in the process and I wasn’t happy about that. I recognize that love takes work, and certainly in this instance where one man truly doesn’t understand his own self, but Matt seemed to make this even more difficult than I felt it needed to be. Jared was very understanding of Matt’s feelings, and I was happy to see that once Matt accepted who he is and what he wanted, his resolve didn’t waver, nor did his love for Jared.

‘Promises’ could easily have been a lovely story with a familiar trope but Marie Sexton made it so much more with her writing style, the complexity of her characters, and the very real-life conflicts that Matt and Jared struggled with. Both men had to take long, hard looks at themselves and realize that maybe, just maybe, some of their life choices were based more on fear than reality.

This is an amazing read and I look forward to the rereleases of the next books in the series. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the prequel short-story bonus ‘Meant to Be’ that takes place fifteen years before Matt and Jared meet. This gave me a wonderful look at Jared during his college years before he returned home and shelved all of his wants and needs. A great little addition!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 224 pages/79621 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 14-May-2019
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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