Erryn reviews ”Concealed Hearts (A Hometown Jasper Novel)’ by Nicky James. This book was released by the author on October 22, 2020, and is 236 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Nick J. Russo. It was released on May 10, 2021, and is 8 hrs and 32 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I wanted to see Windsor and Tomi find their happy ending.
Two closeted men in one rumor-hungry small town have no chance of keeping their love a secret.
Chief of Police Windsor Elkhart is a master deceiver. Not a single person in Jasper has a clue he’s gay, which explains the endless suitors all vying for his attention. Happily married to his job, he’s convinced life is good enough. Twenty years of abstinence is the price he chose to pay, all because of a secret he’s too ashamed to reveal.
Until Tomi Lee returns to town after a two-decade-long absence.
Shame and self-loathing have kept Tomi away from his home town, but can a simple message from a lonely police officer bring him back for good?
The people of Jasper prey on gossip. Everyone is watching everyone. No one is exempt. Falling in love is easy, but do two closeted men have any chance of building a sustainable relationship when they’re always trying to hide?
Concealed Hearts is a low/medium angst MM romance novel with two severely closeted main characters. It is part of the Hometown Jasper Series but can be listened to as a stand-alone.
Tomi Lee left his hometown Jasper, Alberta with dust flying as he headed to British Columbia after high school to start a new life. Despite pleadings from his younger brother Shay, and their parents, he never finds the time to come home. He does when Shay is badly injured, but he barely sticks around. Well, he meets Sheriff Windsor, but that’s about it. Tomi was accidentally outed in high school. He denied it vehemently, even shoving his best friend/secret boyfriend under the bus. That boyfriend ends up falling in love with Shay, further complicating things. If Tomi wants a relationship with his brother, he’s got some atoning to do.
He’s obsessed with small town gossip. He’s convinced everyone is still talking about him, even twenty years after he left town. He dreads coming back because he’s sure the old gossip will be revived. I found the obsession bordering on manic. Things are far more progressive than they were twenty years ago. His younger brother is out, and their parents love him. But those fears are so deep-rooted, it’s doubtful he’ll ever come out.
Then there’s Windsor. He tried coming out before going to the RCMP academy. Things were not progressive there either, and he quickly learned it was safer hide his authentic self. His desire to be a cop overrode his desire to live out of the closet. So he’s stayed there all this time – alone. Everyone in town wants him to hook up with some nice woman, but he’s adamant he’s better off alone. No one knows why as he shares this secret with no one – until he meets Tomi and everything changes.
So how is this supposed to work? One lives in BC, one lives in Alberta. Both are in the closet. Not exactly the recipe for a successful relationship. Except they do find a way to be together – for the present time, anyway. But as summer passes and the crunch of September looms, the men are facing some tough decisions.
Underlying this angst is a young man who is constantly getting into scrapes. I suspected the reason for this, and it was quickly made clear. Of course, his life runs parallel to Tomi’s and while Windsor winds up getting involved, there don’t appear to be easy solutions there either. Seems not all of Jasper is progressive. Homophobia runs deep, and it’s going to take something pretty important to convince the men to expose themselves.
Now, this is a Nicky James book, so I knew there’d be a happy ending and I suspected it involved the men stepping out of those deep closets – being true to themselves and to others. I also knew they’d find a way to bridge the distance of a thousand miles – which they did. I got my happy ending.
I’m sorry to see the series end – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all four books. And Nick J. Russo has been a great narrator for all of them. I recommend this series!
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I live in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada and I am a mother to a wonderful teenage boy (didn’t think those words could be typed together…surprise) and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband, who thankfully doesn’t think I’m crazy.
I have always had two profound dreams in life. To fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world, not bogged down by technology and to write novels. Since only one of these was a possibility I decided to make the other come alive on paper.
I write mm romance novels that take place in fantastical medieval-type settings and love to use the challenges of the times to give my stories and characters life.