Author: Ariel Tachna
Publisher: 220 Pages
Pages/Word Count: Dreamspinner Press
At a Glance: A fantastic ending to a wonderfully written and heartfelt series.
Blurb: Seth Simms never wanted to be a cowboy, although to listen to his best friend, Jason Thompson, tell it, he isn’t one. He just happens to have lucked out in coming to live on Lang Downs with his brother ten years ago. He found enough stability to finish high school and go off to university, but he never really believed Lang Downs would be the same haven for him that it had become for so many others. He’s too messed up in the head. No one would accept someone with his issues.
All his life, Jason has had one goal: to come home to Lang Downs as resident veterinarian when they need his skills and jackaroo when they don’t. And it means he gets to spend time with Seth during his occasional visits, even though his dream of going from friends to lovers is hopeless since Seth is straight.
When Seth unexpectedly comes home to stay, Jason takes it as the boon it is. But juggling a relationship with another jackaroo and his friendship with Seth isn’t easy, and that’s before Jason realizes how deep Seth’s issues run and how dangerously Seth chooses to cope with them.
Review: Can I just say that I love Ariel Tachna’s writing? Because I most certainly do. I know when I see her name that I am in for a wonderful read. Almost everything I’ve read by this author has been extremely well written and wonderfully engaging on all levels.
Cherish the Land is just that, too. I didn’t realize when I chose this book that it was the ending of the series, but I soon figured it out after reading the first few pages of the book. As such, I had to start back at the beginning. Although Tachna weaves the backstories of the rest of the books in with a deft hand, I don’t think this book could be read as a standalone.
Just a little background, which, I hope won’t spoil the series too badly. Lang Downs is a sheep station in the Southern Tablelands, New South Wales, Australia. Many people have come to work at Land Downs to find out that Lang Downs is a home that welcomes the right type of people. In this series, it is home to several men who just happen to have a troubled past, and are gay. But, there aren’t only gay couples on Lang Downs, and it is this mixture that adds richness and realism to not only this final chapter but the entire series overall.
Jason grows up on Lang Downs and is in love with his best friend, Seth. He leaves to go to school to become a vet. It is his desire to return to home to Lang Downs and be as happy as possible with or without Seth.
All Seth wants to do is escape—his past, his issues, and the feelings he’s harboring for his best friend. He’s good with machines and leaves Lang Downs after only living there for three years. He goes to Sydney to become an engineer, only to discover he really wants to be back on Lang Downs with Jason. Both boys, individually, decide to return to the sheep station, and their pining begins. With the help of a jilted lover, Jason and Seth come to realize their feelings for one another.
I really liked Jason when he was introduced in the first book of the series, and when Seth was introduced in book two, the boys became fast friends. I could see a love match in the making and was eagerly awaiting their story. Though I really enjoyed how they came together, I felt a bit cheated that the story didn’t focus entirely on Jason and Seth. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book, just that I felt there wasn’t enough about the two of them as adults in this book.
The other thing I liked about the book was how the issues and pasts of the characters fit with their age group. Seth and Jason are the youngest couple on Lang Downs, and the issues they face are normal for young gay couples, especially in a remote area where being gay isn’t always accepted. Once they are out, everything seems to happen very quickly with them. The fast, and permanent, relationship they make have Seth freaking out a bit, and he runs from both Jason and Lang Downs. Jason has no clue why this happens until we learn that despite Seth finding a home on Lang Downs, he still has issues he isn’t ready to face.
The issue kinda comes out of nowhere, but it is deftly explained by Tachna, and I could see how Seth’s characterization fit the issue. Trigger warning and a spoiler: the books all deal with some sort of real life issues, including but not limited to, homophobia, a bashing incident, PTSD, and rape, and this book’s specific issue is the subject of cutting. So, yes, hefty stuff, but all the issues are researched beautifully and wonderfully written so the reader gets both sides of the story with minimal confusion. I ran the gamut of emotions with this series, and this book especially, but I loved it all.
I adored how Jason stands by Seth even when he doesn’t fully understand why Seth does what he does. Seth eventually realizes that facing his problems, with the help of Jason and the family he’s made on Lang Downs, he can have his happily ever after with Jason. The story concludes with a roundup of all the couples on Lang Downs, bringing a happy ending to the series of this ragtag family.
You can buy Cherish the Land here: