Book Reviews

There's This Guy by Rhys Ford at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 17-March-2017

Book Blurb

How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

 

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

 

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued art deco building on WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the sweet, artistic man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

 

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

 

Book Review

Let me warn you: this book starts with an emotional punch to the gut that almost knocked me out, and it gets worse from there. Much worse. Jake has to go through hell dealing with physical and emotional abuse, a tyrannical, abusive, dying father, flashbacks, suicidal tendencies… But as painful as it was to see him struggle, I loved watching him slowly, slowly pick up the pieces and change from a suicidal wreck to a man who can be honest with himself about who he is, one who accepts and even likes himself, and who finds a partner who is everything Jake never admitted he wants. It is an emotional journey of epic proportions and while it left me emotionally drained like few novels do, I also think it is one of the most rewarding books I have read in a long time. Well worth the “effort” of dealing with my own reactions – close to tears as I came on more than one occasion.

Jake has more baggage than one man should have to carry. Fear and angst define and limit him despite the fact his heart yearns to be free. His mother, while helping him deal with his father’s abuse when Jake was a child, made it clear that being gay is an abomination. Jake’s father – where do I even start? He is a selfish, tyrannical piece of work who doesn’t even deserve to be called human, as far as I am concerned. Jake is gay, but due to his parents’ indoctrination, he feels guilty, unworthy, and immoral about it to the point of rejecting himself. And as if all of this is not bad enough, Jake also struggles financially (much of it due to the fact that he feels he has to pay for his father’s care in a hospice). No wonder Jake is ready to end it all! Jake is attracted to Dallas as soon as he sees him, then works with him on the restoration, but his initial reaction sums up the issue in a nutshell: “Dallas Yates was everything Jake needed to deny himself.” Talk about a challenge!

Dallas comes from a very different background. He has a family who loves him, is well-off financially, and he specializes in challenging projects. When Dallas is looking for a place to restore and turn into a club for his best friend’s drag show, he ends up buying a dilapidated Art Deco building close to where Jake works. At first it is Jake’s physique that attracts Dallas, but as they bond over restoring the building to its former glory, then become friends, Dallas begins to fall in love and want more than a physical relationship. It is slow going mostly due to Jake’s issues, but Dallas never gives up and I admired him for his perseverance and insistence on therapy for Jake, as much as for the loving way in which he helps Jake deal with his issues.

Jake and Dallas could be poster children for what a slow burn romance looks like. And this is exactly as it should be because Jake has so many emotional barriers to work through before he can accept himself, never mind a relationship with a man – something he has grown up to believe is unacceptable and depraved. Dallas is amazingly patient and supportive, but he has glimpsed the man, the artist, Jake could be once he frees himself from others’ opinions of how he should lead his life. And Dallas is determined to help Jake be everything he can be. In that sense, Dallas is like a sculptor who helps free Jake’s soul from all the debris stopping Jake from being a happy, productive guy.

If you’re ready for an emotional roller coaster that will leave you wrung out but feeling uplifted with a sense of great hope, if you think that men who are their own worst enemies deserve help and support when digging themselves out of mental and emotional hell, and if you’re looking for a read that is honest about the issues and the struggle some gay men face when they strive to overcome the damage abusive parents and a lifetime of suppressed feelings have done, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel. It’s well written, emotionally powerful, and an extraordinary story all rolled up in one breathtaking experience. And the ending couldn’t be more perfect and made it all more than worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

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, 200 pages/71030 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-March-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
Buy Link https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/theres-this-guy-by-rhys-ford-8288-b