What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more. – Seneca
It’s been said that money is the root of all evil. Whether that’s a true statement or not likely depends on whether you have it or you don’t, and if you don’t have it, what price you’re willing to pay to acquire it. And yes, there seems always to be a price to pay when you’re willing to bargain with the devil, doesn’t there?
Gary Richardson learns that in times of desperation he’s willing to give just about anything to get rich quick, which includes selling off little bits of his character to the highest bidder, and playing it fast and loose with the only thing in his life that’s worth more than a balance in a bank account. When it comes to the truth, it appears that Gary’s more of a lies by omission kind of guy, especially if it means paving the way to a healthy financial future for himself and his partner, Seth Morgan. And you all know where the road that’s paved with good intentions leads to. Sadly, Gary doesn’t learn where that path dead-ends until he finds himself there alone, without the one and only person he’d convinced himself he was doing it all for. But therein laid the problem with Gary’s roadmap to success—he forgot to make sure Seth was along for the ride. He did it all for the love of the man he can’t imagine spending his life without; he just forgot to make sure Seth wanted the same things.
Return to the Mountain is a friends-to-lovers story that begins in Gary and Seth’s high school years, and ends after a rather tough stint in the school of hard knocks that teaches Gary a thing or two about trust and truth and the time value of the things that you can’t put a price on—like love. Gary learns there’s very little in the way of personal ethics when someone is in the pursuit of money. Nor is there much that resembles honor in a man’s avarice to take from others in order to increase his own financial comfort.
I’m not sure what I was more excited about with this book: the fact that it’s a new chapter and new characters in P.D. Singer’s “The Mountain” series, or if it’s the fact that it meshed the series (including Mark and Allan) so seamlessly with one of my favorite books from last year, The Rare Event. Yes, the skeezy Edgar Wolfe is at his dastardly best, dangling the proverbial… ahem… carrot in front of Gary. And if you’ve read “Event”, you know exactly what Edgar does with his carrot. And Ricky Santeramo is there too, as a young upstart at Wolfe Gorman Equities, learning exactly what it is he’ll have to do to get ahead. Jon Hogenboom even makes a brief appearance in the end, which I loved.
Return to the Mountain is a story filled with truths about dishonesty and the damaging consequences of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. It’s not at all an exaggeration to say that I loved it, loved Seth’s simplicity and Gary’s eventual understanding that earning Seth’s respect was the only thing worth working for.
If you haven’t read any of the Mountain books or The Rare Event, for that matter, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up. I think it can easily be read as a stand-alone; though keep in mind that’s coming from someone who’s read the books. At any rate, I thought this one was pretty fantastic.
And as an added bonus, don’t forget to download your free copy of Cross the Mountain too. It’s a sexy little short featuring Allan and Mark, which takes place post-Fall Down the Mountain, and finds Mark encouraging his lover to participate in a little physically therapeutic cross country skiing after Allan’s literal fall down the mountain that brought he and Mark together.