3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Isabelle Rowan, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Snowman by Isabelle Rowan

Title: Snowman

Author: Isabelle Rowan

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 276 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable if rather slow paced and unexpected romance between two very different men who each need to break out of the ruts they find themselves in.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: We all find ways to run away. Some do it in seclusion, others in the arms of lovers.

Since the death of his long-time partner, Caleb Maguire lives a quiet life in Australia’s Victorian high country with only his dog and horses for company. Each day is the same. There are no surprises—good or bad—until a major snowstorm hits his mountain and Caleb is called out to rescue a stranded tourist. The late night snow brings with it a lost soul who forces Caleb to reassess his solitary life.

Paul Turner is a barista in the trendy Melbourne suburb of Carlton. He lives life totally in the moment, but a life of no commitments is about to change for this city boy. Three days is all it takes for Paul to fall hard for Caleb, and Paul returns to the city with a promise he’ll be back after turning his life around… but only when all the roads are clear.

Dividers

Review: I requested Snowman for review based on my love for Isabelle Rowan’s story A Note in the Margin, which to this day is one of my very favorite first M/M reads. I see a lot of the same quality of writing in this story, which is also not an easy one for her characters.

In this novel, two vastly different personalities are thrown together for a few days when Paul leaves his friends in a snit and drives off the road in a snowstorm, and Caleb literally rescues him from probable, if not certain, death by hypothermia. Caleb can tell that Paul is much younger than he is, and that he lives a very different lifestyle. He tries not to be too judgmental, but frankly, Paul is a bit of a sullen and spoiled prick who needs to figure out a few things in life. But they are stuck with each other until the weather clears and Paul can get down off the mountain and away from Caleb’s remote spread.

For his part, Paul is not too thrilled to be away from the party lifestyle and most certainly, his roommate and other mates for his weekend away. Caleb expects that Paul will make himself useful, although to be honest, Paul is not sure he is very useful at first. He is a barista and doesn’t really have much experience in life doing much except his job and partying and picking up guys. He does, however, have a dream; although he’s not very confident that he’ll ever achieve it. He really loves to cook and would like to be a chef someday. He determines that he’ll pay Caleb back for his hospitality by cooking for him. Caleb is pretty impressed and encourages Paul to follow his dream.

Paul figures out that Caleb is gay as well, but he sees no evidence of anyone else in Caleb’s life. He also observes a pervading sadness around Caleb. Besides his dog and his horses, Caleb keeps daily interactions with any other people to a minimum. When Paul steps over a line, he must find a way to make amends with Caleb and get him to understand that he meant no harm and really is interested in Caleb.

Eventually the weather clears, and Paul must return to his life down the mountain and back in the city. He vows to be back, though, when he’s gotten his life together. Caleb doesn’t want to dare to hope. He is still reeling from the loss of his partner, and he’s not sure he has the will to go on and get close to anyone else.

The second part of the book is told largely in parallel, with Caleb still on his mountaintop and Paul back at sea level. We learn a great deal about both during these chapters, including Caleb’s epic love story that ended tragically, and Paul’s devotion to his friend and roommate Stewart. Caleb’s family tries to help him move on, but he’s not convinced that Paul is the one. Stewart wants an epic love, and he’s willing to endure almost anything to get it. Paul really wants to try with Caleb, but he’s not sure he’s up to the task.

Several tragedies and missed communications occur that serve to drive a wedge between Paul and Caleb just when it looks like their fledgling relationship might be getting off the ground. It takes the intervention of family and friends to help them both recognize what is going on, and they are each going to have to take a huge leap of faith if they want to try to be together.

All in all, I enjoyed this story. These two guys really had to work for their HEA. I wish the section of the book where Caleb and Paul were separated was a little shorter because it felt like it took forever for them to be back in the same place and the same time. But, I really liked the portrayal of the fear and insecurity of both men. After the loss of an epic love, it’s fitting that Caleb is afraid to try again. Never having experienced a real adult love, it’s also understandable that Paul is a bit lost and nervous about how to proceed.

I loved Caleb’s sister-in-law and family! Sarah totally hits it out of the park. It was really rewarding to see these guys evolve and get past their issues. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a thoughtful and slower paced love story between two very different men.







 

You can buy Snowman here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Isabelle Rowan

The Road to Byron by Isabelle Rowan

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting.” – Buddha

Matthew Kellett is at the crossroads, at that all important summer in his life when every choice he now makes will matter, not as a child but as an adult. It’s the time when a road trip with his best friend Craig, and Craig’s girlfriend Kelly, will mean Matthew will leave behind the boy that has hidden from who he is, and become the man who must face his feelings and desires, even through the near crippling fear of Craig’s reaction to the truth.

The Road to Byron is a story that delicately addresses the issues of coming out, physical and sexual abuse, and Matthew’s sexual awakening with Damien Reeves, a college boy he meets and falls for on his journey. The sweet simplicity and urgency of their attraction is a contrast to the complications that lay within Matthew’s relationship with Craig, one that’s tangled in the painful truths of Craig’s life which have left scars that create a rift between them, and very nearly tear Matthew and Damien apart before they’d even had a chance to begin. But it’s also the beginning of Matthew taking control of the direction his life will go rather than standing back and allowing life to happen to him, and ultimately becomes a story of growth and courage in the face of fear.

If you like realistic literary fiction, stories that don’t erroneously manufacture a happily-ever-after but remain true to the idea that the present and the promise you find there can be every bit as satisfying, The Road to Byron is both of those things, as well as a first-love story that had me rooting for Matthew and Damien to find their road to each other after losing their way.

Isabelle Rowan is a GayRomLit participating author. You can find her blog HERE.

Buy The Road to Byron HERE.

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