Quite the emotional ride. Beautiful, erotic, I could not put this book down.
-Review by Kazza K
|A lovely cover.|
Every day I lived a lie, more suffocating than the day before. I was lying to my family, myself and the world. Harvard wasn't for me, the money wasn't me, studying business wasn't me, girls weren't for me. Each night I hoped for a way to escape, and each morning I woke up and faced it all over again.
Summer break is coming and rather than going home to work in the business, as demanded, Elijah sees a chance to find his own path. Fortuitously he notices a red 1965 F-100 for sale and he is smitten. He pictures himself on the highway finally landing somewhere he can be free to do what he wants. No parents demands, no business, no using their money, no annoying room mates, just an escape along the path of his choosing....for Summer break at least. Elijah ends up in Nebraska, a small town called Arthur, to be precise, after his F-100 well and truly breaks down. Mike, the local mechanic, tells Elijah he's looking at a good two weeks to get the truck fixed. Fortunately the McKenzie farm is in need of a ranch hand, board included, and, with no real alternative, Mike drops Elijah off.
Chase McKenzie is something to behold. A cowboy in his prime, sexy, buff, in a way that years of farm work has a habit of doing to a body. He has no shirt on and is working when Mike drops Elijah off and Elijah thinks that Chase is the sexiest thing he has every seen. Right from the get-go Chase is neither approachable nor friendly. Basically he is gruff, abrasive, curt, snarky, intolerant of city boys who'll leave within days. He doesn't speak much, but when he does it's to bark out instructions that need to be understood quickly. Time is money on a farm that is not exactly raking in the big dollars. He is, however, gentle with his horses, which he buys, trains, and on-sells. All except Admiral, who is definitely not for sale and is off limits to Elijah. The only thing that Chase shares with Elijah is that the photos he has around the house are of his partner Owen. And, yes, he is gay, if Elijah has a problem with that he can leave. Elijah confesses to Chase that he is gay, first time he has said this to anyone.
As time passes Elijah works hard and does what is instructed, learns the ropes, but Chase does not let Elijah into his life, apart from his gruff ways he is enigmatic and private. He does, however, cook meals for them both. And every Sunday evening, like clockwork, Chase gets dressed up and rides off on Admiral, not returning until much later. Elijah wonders if there is a lover he visits. Is it something to do with Owen? It is no great secret that something has happened to Owen - he's left or he has died. There is too much anger and sadness around Chase for there be anything else, for the reader it is easy to know which of the two it is. Elijah, however, thinks Owen may be away but as time passes he thinks maybe they have split up.
Five weeks have passed on the ranch, Elijah is still there and Chase is more approachable, less gruff, he is even teaching Elijah to ride one of the horses, Lakota. Then Mike shows up to tell Elijah his car is ready. On the way back to the garage Mike inadvertently lets Elijah know that Owen died in a car crash three years ago and it has all but destroyed Chase, they were devoted to one another, even had a commitment ceremony. Chase reacts oddly to the news Elijah's car is ready. You know he has grown closer to him and he is sure Elijah is going to leave now. When Elijah returns Chase is nowhere to be found, coming home after midnight, drunk -
Unable to stop myself I padded down the hall to his room. Moonlight streamed in, washing over him in a hazy, blue glow. Wearing only briefs, he held a framed picture in his lap, his fingers touching it lovingly as he stared at it, his tears splashing on the glass as they fell. On the table next to him was a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
"I miss you so much." he said, crying softly. Even though I was the only one there, I knew he wasn't talking to me. It was his lover, his husband who he missed so much.
"I wish you were here, babe. This would be so much easier if you were here..." he said in a drunken voice.
"I don't know...what to do. Tell me what to do...," he asked Owen's ghost.
The man sitting there wasn't the one who snarled orders or shouted at me for messing up.
Sitting in the chair was a broken man.
Elijah is this mature, sweet, tolerant, patient, old-before-his-years, yet still innocent character that I couldn't help but love. He reminded me of someone I know and I felt so protective of him as I read. I liked the way he grew and developed over the timeframe of this book. He doesn't want meaningless sex he wants it to be with someone who cares...maybe I was old fashioned, but I didn't want to fuck just anyone. I wanted to be in love: I wanted it to mean something. I was looking for my forever, not just a one-night stand.....
Chase would be in his thirties (based on some clues), although his age is not actually dislcosed, a man who has been hurt deeply and can't let go of someone he loved with all his heart. He has ten foot walls around it and he doesn't want to let them down for anyone. People you love die, he gets that, but his true love dying is something he can't get past, feels guilt over, and he lives every day angry-sad-surviving. Along comes this young, good looking teenager who makes him feel again and his heart doesn't want that, yet paradoxically his body and soul need it. He is feeling things for Elijah he doesn't want to feel and when he succumbs to his need, his passion, it is all too much. At the time they are first intimate it is the most beautiful experience Elijah could have asked for - Chase knows that Elijah is a virgin and he is gentle, caring, loving, an experienced, older, first time lover -
For the first time in my life I felt another man's erection against my own. I searched his eyes that so often carefully veiled his emotions and thoughts, only to find them full of need and want as my own....
"I want you," he rasped seductively in a tone I didn't recognise.
He lowered his mouth to leisurely brush my lips for my first kiss....
I wanted everything right then, I wanted to feel him in me, above me, around me, but his pace was languid, unhurried in his experience.....
When he broke the kiss, I opened my eyes and found him staring at me with a rapt look. I'd never seen anything as beautiful as the way Chase's eyes looked with the moonlight reflection in them.
"Touch me," he pleaded.
I wanted nothing more, but I didn't know how..."I've never...."
"I know," he replied. "Let me show you."......
In the morning, everything changes. Chase is not in bed with him, hasn't slept with him. He's down with Admiral, Owen's horse, pouring out his heart and guilt -
Even without knowing him very well, I knew how he felt about his dead husband. I'd seen the love for a ghost and the mourning for a soul mate every day....
It hurt me that he'd left me in his bed to sleep alone, that he couldn't even remain in the house after fucking me.
Even worse, when they come face to face, with Elijah feeling this meant the world to him, Chase is positively frosty. More than that he is nasty and, quite frankly, abusive towards his young lover because you know he feels like he has cheated on the love of his life, dead though he may be.
At this stage I was ready to hit Chase with a frying pan, or any other nearby object. His behaviour towards Elijah was atrocious. I understood the reasons, but it was poor. Elijah, on the other hand, is understanding, knows it is to do with Owen, but eventually even the patient Elijah decides enough is enough, it's time to leave. On the day he is going, to make matters even worse, Chase decides to flaunt the fact that he knows how much Elijah cares for him - he's older, he knew early on the impact he had on Elijah - he decides to show him his sexual power with a nasty bit of grind in the stables, which confuses Elijah even more - maybe Chase does want him, if he wants him physically then perhaps the heart will follow, right? Pretty standard for a young, inexperienced heart joined with an optimistic mind and a burgeoning love.
There is much that follows but my review is long enough. Basically, Elijah is besotted with Chase and Chase is falling for Elijah, no matter how hard he might try to fight it -
"You're beautiful," he whispered against me.....
What?" I encouraged, leaning closer.
His eyes drifted to mine, and, with fragileness in them, he exposed his thoughts.
"Sometimes I wonder if maybe he sent you to me."
I didn't know how to respond, so I kissed his chest and held him closer.
Only, Chase is always encumbered with guilt, but there is change and Chase and Elijah grow more and more close over the months that Elijah is on his farm, but Harvard looms large for Elijah, whether he wants to admit it or not. Elijah is adamant that he is not going back, he's staying in Nebraska with Chase. He loves the farm lifestyle, the horses, the quiet. He loves Chase. But Chase has decided that is not going to happen. Chase may have had life's circumstances and events set his life's path on his farm in Arthur, Nebraska, but Elijah is young with the world at his feet. Chase wants him to get an education, find his own path, experience and enjoy his life. He believes that he is too young to make a decision to stay, knowing one day he may well resent that decision, resent Chase, no matter what he feels now.
There is much angst in Chase the Storm. It is two protagonists and a lover's (metaphorical) ghost that drive it, there are no antagonists - other than what the heart and mind can do to someone. The writing is lovely, the words strong, harsh, beautiful, evoking a lot of emotions. The sex is deeply erotic, and, barring the one time Chase gets nasty in the stable, it is always meaningful, it is more than just sex. You only get one POV, Elijah's, but it is the look in Chases eyes, his body language, his words, his actions, so descriptively narrated by Elijah, that lets the reader know how Chase is also feeling during their time together. Chase does some things that annoyed me, he closes down when things get tough, but he also does much right by his young lover.
The book takes place just over a three year period. From when Elijah initially works at Chase's farm until the end. Most of it is set on the farm. Elijah's narrative is mature throughout, but I know nineteen + year olds just like this, so I believed it the whole way through; and done any other way would have made the book intolerable given the story being told.
I love a good character driven story. I love angst, and this is certainly angst-filled. I also love psychological reads, plus I love erotic writing - and there is a bit of that. Chase the Storm ticks all those boxes for me. There are no particular secondary characters. Obviously a relationship doesn't exist in a vacuum, but the secondary characters are fleetingly mentioned - a customer, competitor at an auction, Mike the mechanic, someone checking Chase out, Justin, a boyfriend of sorts - but it is Chase, Elijah and Owen's ghost, and for me, the personality of the horses and their relationship to Chase, Elijah and to Owen, who drive this story.
I loved the wonderfully named Chase the Storm. It is now on my list of favourites for 2013. It took me on a ride. I read it in one sitting, staying up until the early hours of the morning because I couldn't, wouldn't put it down. I can't give it any higher praise than that.
I felt strong emotions as I read, I was emotionally engaged - at times I wanted to slap Chase, then hold him near, I wanted to tell Elijah to leave, run far away, then I wanted him to stay. Even though the overriding desire for me was to see Elijah stay with Chase I wanted him to do a bit more with his life...but I wanted him with Chase. By the end of the book I was incredibly happy with the outcome.
5 Beautiful Emotion-Filled Star
"Only yours," I vowed.
Right then, I could never imagine sharing myself with anyone else, but time might allow the piercing pain to morph into a constant dull ache, and if it did, and if I was ever physical with another man, I knew for certain he would merely have my body because my heart would always only belong to Chase.
This book was supplied to me by the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, in return for an honest review.
This book was supplied to me by the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, in return for an honest review.