Bethany, Dana and MtSnow review ‘There’s This Guy’ by Rhys Ford. Published by Dreamspinner Press on March 17th, 2017. 200 pgs.
Note: A copy of this book was provided for free in exchange for an honest review.
How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?
Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.
It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued art deco building on WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the sweet, artistic man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.
When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.
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Why Bethany read this book – Rhys is an auto buy for me, is the short version. I’ll get into the long version in my review.
So here is the thing. Rhys is auto buy for me. Anything that woman publishes I am buying. It all started with Sinner’s Gin, many years ago, it was the first book of hers I read and I knew then I had found an author I would follow anywhere. But you see here is the thing, Rhys does murder and mystery. And she does it well. When I read a mystery, I tend to compare it to Rhys’ books. I make no apologies for that. I found a writer that can deliver a mystery that leaves me satisfied and content, then yes, I say try to live up to that.
But contemporary? Um really Rhys? You know that saying “don’t fix what isn’t broke”? Well that was my first thought. Because the first thing in my head was, How is this going to play out? How would she leave me on the edge of my seat? Would it live up to Sinners Gin, or Jae and Cole, or her Fish & Ghosts series? You know what? It did, plus some.
I have my go to authors for contemporary, and I was ok with Rhys not being on that list. Till now. I never should have doubted she would have delivered. From the very first page I was hooked. Like, couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see what was going to happen. Oh. There WAS a dead body, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story. No, this one’s main focus was on Jake and Dallas. God these two men just about broke me in two.
Dallas is more cracked than broken. But Jake? No, Jake is plain, flat out, BROKEN. Oh dear sweet baby Jesus, I absolutely hurt reading his story. I cried at the injustice of it all, how some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have children, when there are loving couples out there that would shower kids with unconditional love.
But Jake and Dallas, well they make you believe that even the broken and bruised can come out on top. Watching them navigate their friendship, then relationship was beautifully heartbreaking. It just goes to show you that despite what you know from this author, it was nice to be given something completely different. Something that makes you stop and feel. It makes you think and cry for those that don’t have support. It makes you want to hug them both.
Yes I was hesitant when I read the blurb for this book. Yes I was afraid Rhys would not be able to pull off something other than murder and mayhem. But you know what? Throw those thoughts out the window, open your mind and let her do what she does best. Give you one hell of a story, one you will take with you for a long time, one you will re-read often, and as soon as the audio comes out you will re-listen to many times.
If this is how Rhys does contemporary, then I say bring it on!
10 of 10 pots of gold = 5 of 5 stars or 100% of 100% recommended
Why Dana read this book – Like my fellow reviewers, I am a big fan of Rhys Ford. I was sucked in by her Cole McGinnis series and have read most of her work. She creates stories in grittier realities than other authors, but writes a love story so sweet, my heart melts for the two main characters.
I was excited to see what Rhys would do with a contemporary romance when I first heard about There’s This Guy. I had confidence that it would be a great novel. There were a few obvious differences between this contemporary and her usual m/m mystery series’, but I don’t think this book was really out of the box from her usual style.
The story still had more grittiness than most contemporaries. Between the events in Jake’s past and present and the discovery made while renovating Dallas’s building there was still Rhys’s usual descriptiveness. It’s there, right in the beginning, in Jake’s sensory experience while wanting to end his own life. Jake is a broken character. There are only a handful of characters that I’ve read that have been as messed up and beaten down by those that should have loved them. I felt for him so much and was so glad when a slight glimmer of hope lit for him when he met Dallas.
Another thing that carried over from Rhys’s other books is family relationships and dynamics, good and bad. Dallas belongs to a warm and loving family that accepts and supports everything about him. Though he had a bad relationship in his past that stirs up guilt from time to time, with the support of said family, he still carries a lot of confidence in himself. He worries, though, when he meets Jake and sees someone who needs help but can’t find it in himself to ask for it. Dallas over analyzes things a bit, and it was something I see in myself at times. It definitely made him relatable to me. Ultimately he is the perfect guy to help Jake help himself with his patience and caring.
The fact that neither Jake or Dallas have someone trying to kill them, or are trying to solve a crime is where this book is different from the author’s other books. It doesn’t mean that it is an easy road for their romance. There is a slow burn to their love as Jake tries to work through everything that has held him back from admitting he was gay. There were also some wonderful side characters in Jake’s boss and Dallas’s best friend Celeste.
Though Rhys Ford was one of the authors that started my love for mysteries, I think her step into contemporary romance was a great success. She really can write anything she puts her mind to, and I look forward to whatever she decides to write next. For those who want to check out her writing, but aren’t a fan of mysteries, it is so awesome that there is this book out for you. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.
9 of 10 pots of gold = 4.5 of 5 stars or 90% of 100% recommended
Why MtSnow read this book – Rhys. Darkness to light. And an experiment on what this writer can do that isn’t her typical mystery-suspense series. Auto-read. Yep.
Well. She’s done it again. A winner. But why am I surprised at all? I recall when I tripped across her Cole McGinnis Asian-American suspense series quite a few years ago. And she was head of the pack, bringing mm romance the diversity that I was not seeing at that time. And I ate it up like, well.. cheesecake.
Rhys is talented. Diverse. Seems a little warped *kidding*. It amazes me how she sees inside the soul of troubled characters SO well! To be honest, she is ALWAYS on my autobuy list. And add to that the fantastic narrators she hand picks? Well, there’s never any doubt we’ll get a quality story from her.
This author is someone that can change hats so easily. And NEVER disappoints. Honestly, it was a surprise to learn this is her first ‘non-mystery-suspense’ novel. AND it was a standalone. I’m so used to series from her!! But this one does not disappoint.
My trepidation with the idea of her writing a standalone non-mystery book was unfounded. I mean, I was fearful for a few minutes. Was I going to be able to tell it was a Rhys Ford book without the dead bodies, blood and gore, and sarcastic wit?
Well duh. She still delivered all of the above signature traits, in good ol’ Rhys fashion. Lol. What was I thinking? She has her own style. And after reading the shocking first few pages, there was no doubt in my mind that it was gonna be one heck of a ride.
Getting to know Dallas and Jake was very easy. Dallas seemed to have no issues whatsoever with himself and being an out and proud successful gay business man.
Jake was another story, and I was sad for him with the struggle he had with himself. Why do people make promises to their dying family members? And the way he takes care of a bitter, nasty, old man that does the awful things he has done in his past made me think ‘wow’. Could I do what Jake did?? I really don’t know if I’d have had it in me…No wonder the opening chapter had such an impact.
The metaphors and descriptions of the welding and metal and the honing of something beautiful out of something that is typically discarded as scrap, it made me think of how Jake was unveiling and becoming someone that could appreciate the beauty in himself after so much ugly up to now. Dallas by just being there for him, without trying to ‘fix’ him was a perfect match to be with Jake.
All in all, this was a beautiful story. Beginning with something so dark and depressing, and ending on a note of such beauty. The cover art was perfect in that it represented a man coming out of the dark into the light, and visualizing life in color after many years of not.
Anyone that is in doubt as to whether Rhys can write a good book that isnt straight up mystery or a series, well, this book was so well contained and compete, that the reader does not miss a single thing. Loved it!
Highly recommended. Do yourself a favor. Purchase this one. It will not disappoint, especially if you are a diehard fan of this author. Now. If it will just be released on audio. *winks*
9 of 10 pots of gold = 4.5 of 5 stars or 90% of 100% recommended
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep of a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.