Title: The House on Hancock Hill
Author: Indra Vaughn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 220 pages
Rating: B List
Blurb: Pastry chef and bakery owner Jason Wood bakes a mean chocolate soufflé, yet his love life keeps falling flat. He’d blame his past if he wasn’t trying so hard to avoid it.
When his family’s farmhouse burns to the ground, he’s summoned to identify a body found in the ashes. Jason returns to Hancock, Michigan, and reunites with a childhood friend, small town vet Henry McCavanaugh. After fifteen years apart, their rekindled friendship soon develops into much more. But Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance, and he leaves town unannounced to escape his feelings—and Henry’s feelings for him. He has learned the hard way if something seems too good to be true, it’s best to run for the hills. Jason stress-bakes more confections than he knows what to do with before wondering if he’s running in the wrong direction.
Review: This is a story to be savored, There is a lot of heart and emotion and growth that happens with these men. They both have some serious maturing to do before they can see past all the things that they didn’t say to each other which led to misunderstanding, confusion and heartbreak. They both undervalue themselves and assume the worst at the most destructive times. I was rooting for them from the very beginning and even though they made me wait for it, I found that in some ways their happy ending was richer and more secure for them making so many wrong turns before they finally found it.
Luke is an emotional mess. He has good reason to be. He suffered a tremendous amount of loss from his childhood to his barely adulthood and it shows. In panic attacks, stress induced asthma and self destructing any emotional ties with anyone who could touch him on more than a surface level. His one real friend was made before the final losses occurred and stuck with him through that time and tied their lives together professionally. He has some serious issues that he has to work through before he can feel like he deserves to be with Jason. I think we can all relate on some level to the fears that plague him.
Jason is his own brand of mess. He is all that is sweet and sexy. He is almost too good to be true. He has been in love with Luke for so long and has suffered silently and to his detriment. When the time comes for him to say what he feels and take the love that Luke has for him he falters and sees things through the wrong lens. He has his own issues with self worth and expectations. He has more layers than Luke, or we as the readers following along with Luke’s narrative, are able to discern at first. As his story unfolds and Luke has more pieces to the Jason puzzle he becomes even more beautiful, loving, and forgiving than we could have understood before. I think we only grow to love Jason more as time and the story move forward.
Luke does the “worst” thing he could do and falls in love with his childhood best friend when they meet again years later. He is beyond attracted to the sweet, kind, generous, helpful, sexy and amazing Jason. They have an intense and all too brief time together and there is so much that they don’t tell each other. Which leads to all the ugly misunderstandings, rush to (mis)judgments, and agonizing time apart. Luke acts like an admitted coward and Jason like an idiot, both have blame, and we start to get worried. Things get worse and we are like seriously? When are they going to just talk to each other?
People who have issues with mc’s who are with other people while they are not together are going to have to suck it up. Because let’s be real here. It is a romantic ideal that the character is going to pine in lonesome solitude while they are NOT in a relationship with the one they love. I am not sure why, other than an adolescence spent reading pulp romances, we would feel the need to be so cruel to our already suffering mc. But they are not together, they are not in a committed relationship, they are not in a monogamous relationship, mostly because at the time they are not in any kind of relationship at all. If the idea that they are not chaste virgins upon reuniting as adults and then remain chaste until they work all their ugly problems out and are able to be in that committed and monogamous relationship, well maybe this isn’t the book for you. If you are able to allow your fictional characters to be flawed, needy, raw, lonely, broken, loving, lost, searching, fallible, stupid, silly, creative, wonderful, foolish, doubting, sexual, brave, scared, and most of all human, then I think you may just find that you love this book.
This story is complicated and it has places where things go in a direction that you are not expecting. Some readers are going to want to smack both characters at different times throughout. All readers will want to eat some of Luke’s creations, there will be cravings and probably some drool. I had a few moments where I was wondering how they were going to bring things back to where we need to be with them happy and together and in love. I greatly enjoyed the journey to get there.
Reviewed by Nina