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At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.
Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.
Baa-ram-ewe! Baa-ram-ewe! To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true! Sheep be true! Baa-ram-ewe (Sorry folks, I just have to insert this somewhere)
I have started reading MM about 5-6 years ago… and by now, I have read over than 500 contemporary MM stories, since they are my favorite genre (overall, I probably have read more than 1000). What I am trying to say is with so many stories and the small capacity of memory that I have, it is rather difficult for me in the end to remember them all. All those stories become blurred in my head.
Plus I have become pickier and a bit jaded. So many things have become my pet peeves; I’m nitpicky. I dislike instant-love, instant-lust, too many endearments, too many clichés, females as villains, bigotry/homophobic parents, the martyrdom effect, et cetera et cetera. It’s not easy for a story to stand out above the rest and stay in my memory long enough.
So by golly if I say this, The Shearing Gun is so good, it will definitely be one of my memorable reads this year. Sure, if you ask me what is the first thing that comes to mind, I will genuinely say, “That sheep book.” The author might not like it but that is how I will associate this (haha!). Having said that, it’s actually a compliment! Yep, because by making such a unique setting – it has a very lush, very vivid description about living on a farm in small town, Dumbleyung, Western Australia – this story stands above the rest. And THAT, my friend, is something I need in the clutter of contemporary MM romances released every year.
What about the characterizations and the romance? Oh, they’re just as satisfying.
Hank, our narrator slash shearing gun (that is what you call a super-fast shearer) has such an engaging voice that he pulled me right in. Yes, he is – by way of product – thrown out by his father after discovering that Hank is gay, but the story never goes into a “woe-is-me” or “feel sorry for me” territory. Hank might be in the closet, but he also embraces his relationship status with Elliot when he needs to be. Hank is funny, endearing, and loyal. Man, he will defend his Quackle’s honor if he has to (how’s that for endearment!)!
Elliott is also very sweet… he sure blushes a lot! *laugh*. I loved how he is enthusiastic, almost like a little kid, when he needs to learn about the life on the farm. Everything is new and a wonder for him, and that makes him oh, so lovable. But when he is in charge, where Elliot is in his own element, helping other people, my GOD, it is such a turn on!!
Another element that made it a winner for me is the secondary characters. Hank has several close friends and relatives that are colorful in their own way. From Middy, to Neil, to Hank’s own brother, Paul, and his amazing uncle, Murray and Murray’s partner, Jimmy. They give that dash of small-town quirkiness that I love so much and I want more in MM contemporary. Yes, we did have a couple of bitter moments when it came to acceptance to homosexuality, but it never went over the top. It was done in a tasteful and thoughtful way to make a well-rounded story.
Heck, even the sex scenes were pretty good (and this comes from a reader who prefers not to have too many sex scenes in her story!) So that is a big deal, trust me. Oh, except for the phone sex. The phone sex was weird.
The story is romantic with enough balance between humor, romance, drama, internal conflict, and action. Yes, action – what, you don’t think shearing sheep is action? Trust me, it IS!! Especially when the shearers are trying to break records!! Anyway, everything was in the right balance – like perfect ingredients to create the most delicious Pavlova (no, I’ve never tasted Pavlova, but I can imagine it!). Plus the love declaration scene, just made my heart melt and my face lit up with a smile at the same time because it was so deliciously Hank.
“I love you, Elliot. I’ve loved you for ages. Of course my heart is involved. I fuckin’ introduced you to my dad for heaven’s sake! Why would I do that if I didn’t love you? I punched my best friend’s brother for calling you names. I snuck around town like a fuckin’ thief just to hold you at night so you could get some sleep. I got tested and told Doc Larsen I was gay that was not the easiest bloody conversation in the world. I gave you a lamb to name. I’m planning on buying you a couple of fuckin’ chooks so you’ll stay. What part of that doesn’t say I love you?”
In conclusion, this is just one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s THAT good and THAT satisfying for me. Although I have only read two books of hers so far, I guess I can start paying more attention to Renae Kaye when it comes to making my list of ‘best-new-author-of-2014’ list.