Title: Taking the Long Way
Author Name & Publisher: Max MacGowan (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: February 12, 2016 – 234 pgs
Male escort Rye Bellamy is looking for a way out. Any way out. He’s getting older, and clients are getting more dangerous. If he doesn’t find something better, he knows he won’t survive.
He sees his chance in Marcus Townsend, a functionally blind Army veteran. Marcus, who refuses to accept his condition as immutable, has a shot at seeing a specialist who might be able to help him—but that doctor’s based on the other side of the country.
When Rye and Marcus meet, they realize they can help each other. Marcus can’t drive, but Rye can. Marcus knows what Rye is, but he likes him anyway. In fact, he more than likes him. Driving cross-country with a near stranger is a daunting task, but Rye’s biggest risk is falling for the gentle, stubborn-hearted soldier—and it might already be too late to stop that.
They plan to part ways when they reach their destination, but plans change as the affection between them grows. Now neither wants their journey to end, but continuing means finding a way to bridge the distance between who they were and who they’d like to become.
Triggers: Male prostitution, physical beatings
This story is about second chances, love, accepting your past, growing towards your future and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone who loves you.
Marcus is struggling with the turn that his life has taken. Injured and hurting, he is trying to figure out where he goes from here. What he thought was going to be his career turns out to have abandoned him when he needs it most. After his injury that left him legally blind, he moves home with his cousin and niece. I really enjoyed the niece, Jessie. She was spunky and just what Marcus needed in order to get him out of his own head space.
During a walk through a sketchy part of town, Marcus runs in to Rye. Rye sees an innocent when he spots Marcus walking through the icky part of town and wants to help Marcus. I really enjoyed Rye’s character, even if he was somewhat of a push over when it came to his pimp. I did like how eventually, Rye was able to stand up for what he wanted – to take a leap of faith on both himself and Marcus.
The drive was somewhat long and drawn out – I think that the author could have gotten away with less description of their drive, however, I did like that you were able to see Marcus’ feelings grow and watch Rye struggle with his own feelings. It became a real relationship, in that the feelings they thought would never bloom, did and both characters were left floundering with how to handle them.
Marcus and Rye had some chemistry in the story, but it wasn’t one where it jumped off the page. Their chemistry was much more subtle. And, I liked how they were able to find themselves throughout the story.
Overall, this was a sweet story.
Ageing rent boy and blind Army Veteran? Rye and Marcus were always going to be a fantastic couple. Add in a road trip, a touch of humour and thoughtful writing and I really enjoyed this story.
Marcus and Rye are believable, well-crafted characters. Rye, the street rat, is getting too old for his job as a rent boy. At 25, he is lost and more than a little frightened when he considers the future. Marcus has returned home from the army after an injury that blinded him. If Rye is a little bit scared of the future, Marcus is terrified.
While there could have been more chemistry between the two men and the story-arc and the romance weren’t always moving at the same pace, I really enjoyed the trip across America with these two men. Bravery is contagious and Marcus’ determination to fix his head and try to get his sight back prompts Rye to make brave decisions of his own.
This isn’t complicated and despite the topic, it isn’t heavy. This is a coming of age story for two men who have avoided some of the tough growing up decisions. It is also a story of accepting harsh realities while retaining control.
This is a great effort from a new author and I look forward to subsequent stories.
Max MacGowan is a work in progress. They’ve just turned forty, and are determined not to go gently into that good night. They identify as nonbinary genderqueer, and prefer they/them pronouns. While Max lives in North Carolina, they daydream constantly of Seattle and Portland and all other colorful points West. In the meantime, they’ll satisfy themselves with coffee and trying every recipe that piques their interest on the Food Network. While they can be quiet, friends will tell you all that still water can’t quite hide Max’s quirky personality, Or maybe it’s the ever-present puckish twinkle in the eyes that’s really to blame.
Max has a fantastic time writing male/male romance, and is especially fond of polyamory, found families, love in unexpected places, friends who become lovers, and romantic comedies. They’re owned by two rowdy tomcats who take pains to make sure their owner doesn’t ever get the status confused.