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You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.
A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.
Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.
When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.
This book has been previously published.
Okay, first thing, this novella has been previously published with a different publisher about three years ago. I never read the first edition, so I don’t know how expanded or re-edited this version is. I can’t do any comparison. I definitely cannot give clues to those who have read the first edition whether getting this second edition is worth it.
I can, however, write an opinion of this one :)
After reading the genre for almost 6 years, I have grown slightly exhausted with M/M romance that deals with the ‘heavier’ part of the acceptance of homosexuality. Homophobia, bigotry, in addition mentioning characters’ internal conflicts to reach the happy ending… it’s all very realistic. However, these days I personally want my M/M romance to be slightly sweeter, with just a lighter side of angst, and a more positive outlook from the community. It doesn’t mean that external conflict is bad, but when it comes to that, I appreciate more shades of grey rather than black and white hatred.
And this was how “Cherry Pie” won my heart over. Set in Mercury, a fictional town in North Carolina, it has the feel of a small-town romance trope (which is one of my favorite when reading M/F romance), where the community is welcoming the ‘gays’, simply because one of them is the child of the town. The strong sense of support, from friends, the town matriarch – there is even a gay pastor at a local Unitarian church! – for the two main characters, John and Connor, created a story that I enjoyed immensely.
The conflict of this story came mainly from John and Connor and how they finally arrived to their happy end. Both men came to Mercury with a carrying baggage.
John Ford is a mid-thirtys millionaire (so rich he didn’t really have to work anymore) who tries to move on from memories of his deceased partner, Steve. There is a slight mystery to what happened between John and Steve which pushes John to move from California which will be revealed later to readers. Meanwhile Connor (or Conn) is a prodigal son who returns to Mercury after having quite a hard life after he left town, which lands him in jail.
I loved how the romance slowly built between them. I loved that their different backgrounds created the layers of internal struggle that they need to overcome. John wanted to do things differently with Connor (compared to his previous relationship) but sometimes ended up taking the wrong approach. While Connor sometimes didn’t feel that he was worthy enough to speak what he wanted from John, considering his current situation. It was engaging but never went over-the-top dramatic.
So for me, Cherry Pie is a lovely story, even if it is a bit too convenient in the end. Still, it gave me heartfelt satisfaction which it is all that matters. I hope Ms. Kane continues with more characters from the town in the future, while giving updates on John and Connor, because I would love to have more small-town romance with an open and welcoming community in the MM genre.