We were sent an ARC of this book. The author wrote, and I quote:
Well, keep in mind, another author said “Well, this is sweet for YOU.”
Cool! How bad could it be?
Patty: So, there’s this author… she loves to give her characters a HEA but not before she skins them alive, pours gasoline on them, and reaches into her pocket for a lighter.
Katie: I’m not sure how, exactly, but at some point Rhys Ford added PattyKates to her list of ARC recipients. I’m extremely grateful that such a gifted author has seen fit to do so, even if this book has had a contemplated suicide, a hero’s journey cross country featuring a transgender sidekick (and Celeste is FABULOUS), and a meet cute involving a rotting body that smells like a combination of puke, cat piss, and ass. Y’all I’m only up to chapter three. I may get whiplash if she continues at this pace with plot development. (NOT A BAD THING AT ALL. I’m looking at you, Marian Zapata and Kristen Ashley.)
There’s This Guy is a sweet m/m romance between two truly decent guys, one of whom comes from an incredibly loving, supportive family. The other comes from a family so toxic and abusive that he’s incredibly damaged and deeply, deeply closeted. This book is about their journey together, with a special focus on the steps necessary to improve Jake’s mental well-being. Oh, and there’s the mystery of the odiferous body thrown in.
Dallas Yates is our prince charming. Fun, smart, kind to strangers and just the perfect guy.
Except, you know, gay, so he can’t be my book boyfriend.
Jake is our gentle giant. A victim of just about THE WORST parents ever, he believes he’s destined and deserving to die alone in a swamp; so, he’s got that whole misunderstood ogre thing going on.
Jake’s father is… no… he’s just such a horrible person, he gets no meme. NO MEME.
Patty: Like all of RFord’s books, she doesn’t so much start off by telling you a story so much as she she just drops you smack dab in the middle of someone’s reality. The first few pages are gut-wrenching and I’ll admit I almost didn’t read the book because I knew it would trigger emotional pain by proxy.
Katie: I appreciated that Ford was so open about mental health, and how it can be critical to the success of your relationships. The way she had Jake keep trying new therapists until he found the right one for him his critical. How can your therapist help you be your best self if you don’t feel comfortable enough with them to build a rapport?
I’d also like to note that Celeste was a fully drawn character. More than a collection of stereotypes, she was instead a fairly gentle way of educating cis readers about many issues related to being transgender.
Patty: There is a mystery (see rotting corpse reference) that just kind of simmers on a back burner since it obviously doesn’t directly involve either one of our heros. It gets resolved via third parties and anecdotal evidence and I think it’s supposed to be all reflective of Then vs Now but mostly I was just:
Also, I don’t think I have ever actively celebrated the death of a character before. (There are a few corpses in this one but there is one in particular that was LONG overdue). When it came to pass, I *may* have danced a jig. That might make me a terrible person, but…
Katie: This book is fine. I appreciated the attention to issues so relevant to our society today, especially as it relates to the LGBTQIA Community. That said, I’m kind of meh about this effort from Rhys Ford. I didn’t connect with it that much emotionally. Indeed, I even felt like she was trying a bit too hard to be emotionally manipulative – I was going to say like Steel Magnolias, but with the problems with Jake’s family, Fried Green Tomatoes is probably a better comparison.
Patty: I know what you mean. It borders on gratuitous suffering but then I think that a) it’s fiction but b) the theme is very real for some people. Perspective is a bitch and can make one very uncomfortable. I HATE pain and suffering; I’m a total wuss when it comes to reading or watching undeserving people struggle physically or emotionally. The advantage here was in trusting the author do right by her boys – she always does – and there were some funny moments that offset the heavy.
Katie: If you like gentle, sexy m/m romance between two genuinely nice people written by an author who uses words and language like an artiste, this will probably be your cup of tea. (She obviously uses an editor. Hint, hint certain authors who have already been mentioned earlier in the review.) 7.5/10, would recommend.