Promises by Marie SextonStars: 4-4.5/5
Jared Thomas has lived his whole life in the small mountain town of Coda, Colorado. He can't imagine living anywhere else. Unfortunately, the only other gay man in town is twice his age and used to be his teacher, so Jared is resigned to spending his life alone.
Until Matt Richards walks into his life, that is. Matt has just been hired by the Coda Police Department, and he and Jared immediately become friends. Matt claims he is straight, but for Jared, having a sexy friend like Matt is way too tempting. Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s co-workers, Jared fears they'll never find a way to be together—if he can even convince Matt to try.
After the first book I read by Sexton (Between Sinners and Saints), I was hesitant to read another Sexton book, for fear it couldn't live up to the previous. However, now that I've read another excellent book by Sexton, I feel like I should tentatively add her to a favorite author's list.
I was not too impressed by the first few chapters; the writing wasn't grabbing me and not much was happening with the characters. But all at once I fell in love with Lizzy (after she says something teasingly to Jared) and everything in the story started to come together and I began to settle into the wonderful journey that Sexton provided. My initial lackluster response was probably due to the style of writing, which I fell is more casual and, while not quite stream-of-conscious, it has a more personality to it. This isn't a negative, and it definitely works as the story progresses, but it kept me from really sinking into the story at the beginning (although I'm not sure why). By the end I was in love with the characters and the storyline.
This is an excellent story, and definitely worth checking out, especially if you're looking for something that is light and romantic without being too over the top, angsty, or dramatic. This is deliciously sweet without causing cavities.
As they say, “It's the journey, not the destination.” The exploration of characters, setting, and the development of Matt and Jared's relationship from friends to lovers is a journey worth taking, since when you reach the destination—the end of the book—you want to be back on the road, experiencing the journey once again.
While obviously the romance takes center stage in this story, it's not the sole focus as the characters struggle against bias, their own hang-ups, and outside forces. The balance between what the world throws at them and their own fears of what the world is going to throw at them, is artistically handled. This is a realistic romance that gives us a long glancing look at Jared's life. It reads true and honest.
In addition to the main two men, there is a cast of other characters who add wonderful dimension to the story. Most of them are lovable, or amusing, although Lizzy is my favorite side character. She's funny, sweet, and really cares about Jared's happiness in a way that made me want to yank her from the book to have as a friend. Plus Jared is kind, if not a little scared, and Matt is strong and stubborn (and a touch manipulative, in a good way).
The beginning of this story didn't really grab me. Although the characters seemed somewhat interesting and I trusted Sexton would get me somewhere worthwhile, it definitely wouldn't have caught my interest if I were just reading the first chapter. However, this could just very much be me, as the second time I read it, I had no problems with the writing or the opening chapters.
What really kept this story from getting a 5 star rating, and probably the only thing, is that I didn't feel emotionally flabbergasted by the anything. It was a good, strong story with good, strong characters and when I'm in the mood for something light and sweet and real feeling, I'll definitely come back to this again and again. But it did nothing to amaze me and nudge it up to 5 stars. Still, an excellent read!
Requested this book for review.