Erryn and Bethany review the ebook of ‘High Lonesome’ by Tanya Chris. The ebook was published April 3, 2018. Copies were provided in exchange for honest reviews.
Erryn – why I read this book: “Hermit, addict, spy. Three men, one snowstorm, zero reason to trust. And someone’s coming …?” Sign me up!
Bethany – why I read this book: MMM, yes please.
Joe doesn’t live on top of a mountain because he loves people. A late summer snowstorm is the perfect chance to send his customers down to lower altitude and enjoy a few days of solo strolls and fireside naps.
Tanner’s not staying at a high-altitude hut to admire the scenery. He’s got a date to keep with the sort of person you don’t want to disappoint, a date that’ll result in him earning some much-needed cash in exchange for what’s left of his self-respect. But that’s OK. He gave up on self-respect when he picked up the needle anyway.
Pyotr didn’t drop into a blizzard to rescue Tanner or to drag Joe back down to the real world. His mission is a lot colder than that. People are only pawns, and spies are only heroes to those who don’t know them.
Hermit, addict, spy. Three men, one snowstorm, zero reason to trust. And someone’s coming …
Content warning: this book contains on-page heroin use and detox. A brief argument follows the reveal of a character’s HIV status.
Wow, what a book.
I think the tagline summarizes it perfectly: Three men. One snowstorm. Zero trust.
There are certainly elements of a thriller – espionage, isolated location, questionable loyalties, treason, etc. But this book is so much more than that.
This book is about relationships. Familial, authoritative, obligatory, and romantic.
Joe is the mountain man, isolating himself from the certain disaster of civilization. Outhouses, power outages, and lots of physical activity have kept him sane and safe for the past four years. Basically, “if sex was Joe’s addiction, intimacy was its antidote”. He does dabble occasionally, and had even seen Tanner as a potential hook-up, but a real relationship? Never.
Tanner is in trouble. He’s younger than Joe, naïve, almost. He’s a drug addict who thinks he’s found a solution to his problem, but like most addicts gripped in craving, he hasn’t thought the solution through. As he waits to seal the deal, another opportunity presents itself. And who is going to turn down sex with a hot mountain man? Because, “he could still get it up, even come on a good day, but why bother? Well, today he’d bother.”
Pytor is the wildcard. He’s a spy. A Russian spy. Who are all the rage these days, but most of the ones in the news don’t look like Pytor. His arrival on the scene complicates things, but in a good way. “Funny, because Joe’s easy obedience had given him the idea he liked being pushed around a little and he couldn’t imagine Tanner pushing anyone around. He looked fragile, like he’d need to be treasured. And Pytor knew how to do that too.”
Three disparate men, brought together by happenstance, bound by the need to survive in isolation, completely dependent on each other, and all gay (or bi). I have to say, this set-up was believable. I also love that we have a Dominant, a switch, and a submissive, and yet they all defy those labels at different moments.
Ms. Chris has provided a trigger warning and there are often debates around these, but I think she chose the right path. The drug use in the book is pivotal to the plot and not exploitative. It is raw and honest. From the insertion of the needle to the awful effects of detox, there is a grittiness that the reader can’t escape. And appropriately so. With today’s opioid crisis, more people need to be aware of why addicts can’t just ‘quit’. If you’ve had the misfortune to either go through withdrawal or have had to witness a loved one during it, you know how hard it is. The scene where Tanner finally gets a shower spoke to me.
“It felt fantastic, like salvation raining over him. Joe rubbed him down with a soapy washcloth leaving behind clean skin that didn’t ooze sick sweat or feel like the sticky side of Scotch tape.”
As with the on-page drug use, the scene with the HIV-status revelation was powerful. Visceral. Those of us who remember the 1980’s – especially those of us who came of age during them – remember that AIDS was a death sentence. Authorities didn’t know what it was, what caused it, or even how it was transmitted (a la Masters and Johnson saying they didn’t know if toilet seats were safe). Misinformation and mistrust were rife. The vilification of gays was palpable and real.
I still vividly remember attending the viewing of my sister’s brother. A brother I never knew existed. A GAY brother. Who had died of AIDS.
A real eye-opener.
I had been away at university for four months and I felt like the whole world had changed. I needed to change with it.
Educating myself was part of that. An uncle of a good friend of mine was diagnosed in the mid-1980s and he’s still alive. Rare and very lucky. But he’s been on the meds, changing them as new ones came out, doing what it has taken to survive. So I have continued to educate myself – viral load, undetectable, PrEP, and more. HIV is no longer a death sentence, but, as with most chronic conditions, staying healthy is important. Medications and lifestyle choices are important.
So when the character reveals his HIV status, the reactions are predictably generational. Because even if I understand that someone with an undetectable viral load is not contagious and cannot transmit the virus, it would still freak me out just a bit. Safe sex is great, but after watching AIDS ravage the world, there is still that internal terror.
This is a moment when what could tear apart the weird relationship the three men have developed…doesn’t. It has the opposite effect. It opens a dialogue. A painful and necessary conversation.
I read all kind of books, but freely admit romances are my favourite. And I’ve read every heat level from sweet kisses to down’n’dirty taboo erotic. Rarely, though, does the heat level affect how I feel about a book. This book, for the record, is very hot. When the three men are in bed together, well, fun times abound.
That’s what I loved about this book. I loved the rawness. The immediacy. The intimacy. The pain.
All three men have things in their pasts that they regret and it is only through the triad relationship they are able to come to terms and accept those past transgressions. To obtain the absolution they so desperately need.
The book has uneven pacing and that is perfect. When one is isolated, without the pressures of the modern world, time takes on new meaning. The men know their time together will soon end, but how is never clear. Action doesn’t drive this book – emotions and relationships do. That’s why it works and why I want to read it again.
And the epilogue? It left me with a sense of quiet serenity. A belief that love may not vanquish all demons, but those demons can be held at bay. Tucked away in a prison. Locked away by the power of love.
After reading the blurb for this one, my first thought was “heck yea, three men I don’t turn those down.” But after starting it I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. But let me explain why.
I guess when I thought of three men, I assumed the action would start off right away. But it didn’t, it started very slowly easing you into the background of first Joe and Tanner. Joe is closed off, living basically as a hermit, and you just know he is haunted and something that he went through in his past is keeping him from living amongst people. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on with Tanner, but when it became obvious I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep going. But I need to tell you, please stay with it.
Then we meet Pytor, and my first impression of him was spot on as this gruff “I don’t give a care in the world” vibe. But then he starts to reveal more of himself and I fell hard for him. I don’t want to say he was my favorite, cause they each give something very vital to the story, but man he definitely did things for me.
Each separately they are good, but together they were magic. While the start of this did feel slow for me I must say, it is worth it and kind of needed. The author builds their stories separately at first then weaves them together so effortlessly. And that is why I highly recommend this. You learn things about each of them and as they learn things about each other, you can see them building a strong foundation.
Things don’t really wrap up till the very last moment but I think that is why I liked it so much. I was left on the edge of my seat needing to see what was going to happen to all three men. I highly recommend this book if you want a action packed MMM suspenseful romance.
8.5/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
Tanya Chris writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.
Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.