Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Love Can't Conquer by Kim Fielding, review, excerpt, giveaway


Love Can't Conquer 

(Love Can't series, Bk #1)
by Kim Fielding

Blurb: 
Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.

Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.

Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.




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Excerpt

Night had fallen some time ago, and the black sky spit cold, stinging raindrops, making Qay shiver as he descended from the loading bay onto the street. He had to walk a couple of blocks to his first bus; he’d be soaked and miserable by then. Wouldn’t it be nice if someday he could afford a car? Although he’d always lusted after muscle cars, he’d be happy with even the most basic little econobox as long as it ran and kept him dry. He certainly didn’t need anything as burly as the dark SUV parked a few yards away.

Just as he realized that he recognized the SUV, the driver’s door opened and a big man in a green uniform slid out. Qay froze in place. The man walked over until he was just out of arm’s reach, and then he stopped.

“You worked late,” Jeremy said.

“What… what are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.”

“But…. Why…. How did you…?” As usual, Qay was eloquent when flustered.

Jeremy’s grin was small and tight, but it was there. “We’re getting soaked. Can we have this conversation in my car? I’ll crank the heat.”

Not trusting himself with words, Qay simply nodded. When Jeremy held the passenger door open, something lively fluttered in Qay’s chest.

They sat silently in the SUV for a long time, fogging the inside of the windshield. The radio was off, but the fan blew full blast. Qay watched rain droplets fall from his hair onto his lap. They left little circles of darker blue on the denim.

“Stuart is an asshole,” Qay finally said.

“Your supervisor?”

“Yeah. That’s why I worked late.” He snuck a peek at Jeremy from the corner of his eye. “Have you been here since five?”

“Four thirty, actually. And I’ve had to pee for at least half an hour.”

“I could probably talk the security guard into letting you into the factory. The bathroom’s pristine. I just cleaned it.”

“I guess I can hold it a little longer.”

Qay nodded. He glanced at Jeremy’s right hand, which lay on the console between them, and saw that the knuckles were scabbed and slightly swollen. “What happened?” Qay asked.

“Stupidity.”

They were quiet again, the pause dragging on long past awkward. Then Jeremy cleared his throat. “How did the exam go?”

Qay couldn’t stop a wide smile. “I aced it. The prof even kept me after class to tell me I’m brilliant.”

Jeremy looked as happy about this news as Qay felt. “Hell yeah, you’re sharp as broken glass.”

“Appropriate comparison.”

“I tried.”

A little of the tension between them eased. Qay picked at a thread on his slightly frayed jeans, then stopped himself and drummed on the armrest instead. “Why are you here?” he asked, looking through his window into blankness. “And how?”

“I used to be a cop, remember? You told me you work at a window factory in Northwest, which narrowed it down. I made some phone calls.” He snorted a laugh. “Didn’t want to get you in trouble or let you know what I was up to, but I remembered Stuart’s name and asked for him. I found him yesterday. Pretended I was a bill collector when he came to the phone. He was just about in tears—kept insisting he’d paid what was due on his credit card.”

The thought of Stuart nearly crying over an imaginary unpaid debt cheered Qay more than it should have. “So that’s the how. What’s the why?”

“I have… questions. And an apology, if I can man up enough to spit it out.”

“Apology? For what?”

Jeremy gave him a long look. “Let’s go somewhere, okay? I can piss and we can eat and… and we can talk.”

Maybe he was courting disaster, but Qay nodded. “All right.”




Review



This isn’t a story of second chances so much as it’s a story of first chances when there was no chance at all the first time around. Jeremy and Qay knew each other back when they were teens trying to survive in the heartless heartland. They’re a long way from Kansas now, but they’ve taken their younger selves along.

Little has been sunlight and roses for them: Jeremy hasn’t found lasting happiness, and Qay’s tried losing himself in all the booze, drugs, and nameless sex that an addict can find. Seven years’ sober when he meets Jeremy again, his demons are held at bay, not conquered, and Jeremy’s honest interest rattles their cages. Qay’s made a new life for himself, finding successes in quarters where he’d only been a failure before. Jeremy scares him and draws him.

Physically, Jeremy’s a long way from the pudgy bookworm on the plains, his kind heart has survived to do the good deeds of an adult while his body transformed into a 6’4” muscular wet dream. Qay calls him Captain Caffeine, a nod at his coffee addiction, physique, and efforts to do the right thing, even with his awful ex who trails disasters in his wake. Awful ex has bought into a peck of trouble, which slops onto Jeremy. While trying to sort the aftermath and nurture a fragile relationship with Qay, Jeremy’s also trying to make sense of everyone’s pasts.

I had to skip over the issue of why Jeremy fell so hard and so fast for someone out of the mists of time, who wasn’t even the person he had been back then. Interest I could see, but not the flop into love after the initial set of misgivings had been dealt with. They weren’t even the right set of misgivings. Qay had been honest. I had to ignore that to go on with the story.

Once I did that, I could follow as they explored each other, with the perspective of men who’d met life head on and occasionally been knocked on their butts. These guys are mid forties, older than the usual romance couple, which showed in their intermittent willingness to let things unfold rather than pushing, and definitely in the amount of baggage and the thought they’d put into dealing with it.

The author doesn’t gloss over or romanticize Qay’s addiction problems, at least as far as Qay’s concerned. Jeremy wears his heart on his sleeve, and for all his street-smarts he doesn’t seem to get that Qay may have a point about life with an addict.

A few very high points—the solution to the problem of the awful ex comes with rational thought and not ludicrous demonstrations of derring do. Both men have to look at their pasts to find the way to a future. Qay's portrayal as an addict working continually on recovery was both brutal and poignant. 

Jeremy lost a lot of points with me regarding his parents: while he certainly had a valid point, he was also self-centered to the point of callousness. Can’t he bring all that wonderful empathy and caring home for a few minutes? Or is it only for the people life has dicked over as long as they aren’t genetically connected to him? Yes, it was a peek into his younger self, no he’s not 13 any more, it’s understandable but not acceptable even in 13 year olds. YMMV. I hope so, it’s a frothing at the mouth issue for me and hurt a read I was enjoying.

That aside, while Jeremy and Qay “can’t go home again”, they can build something new on the bones of the past, and I want them to be happy. Perhaps love alone can’t conquer, but it can make them fight harder for what they want. 3.75 marbles


About The Author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.



You can follow Kim at


         

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