DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.
REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.
When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.
I kind of have a love/hate feeling toward this story because I both liked it and was totally and completely frustrated by it. First off, it took until 40% of the way through the story to hook me and to finally figure out what the storyline actually was. Second, this was a slow read. Third, it was written in my least favorite format: 1st person present tense.
Daniel, our protagonist and who is our window into the world of Holiday, is kind of all over the place. His family, well, what a bunch of jerks is all I can say, is one of the reasons he is who he is. While his best friend Ginger and his love interest Rex leapt out of the pages at me, Daniel was a little harder to figure out, which was kind of annoying at first considering he is the one telling the story. However, as ‘who’ he is came out around 40% of the way through, that began to make sense. If a character isn’t even sure of who he is and he is telling the story in 1st person, it makes it hard for the reader to know.
My harshest complaint is that this story left the reader with a huge cliffhanger. If I’m already hooked into a series, then a cliffhanger doesn’t bother me as much, but in the first book which was difficult to get through in the first place? It does not make me want to read on. Instead, it makes me growl. There was no sense of completion, or that the hero and his man may someday ride off into the sunset. Instead, I was left with this feeling of “it’s all gonna go to H*LL about five pages after the book is done”.
However, there is definitely an audience for this book – so if you enjoy 1st person present tense, a character who is all over the place and doesn’t know where he’s at let alone where he’s going, and a slow bleed of a romance which seems the lesser part of the story, then this might be the book for you. Get your own “The Daniel” (a coffee created in our hero’s honor by a local coffee shop), sit down, and prepare to read.