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A Heatherfield Novel
Two weeks before Christmas, the small town of Osmar is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, but the death of the event’s long-time organizer might mean the end of the festivities. Everyone is turning to her son DJ to save the carnival, but DJ can barely save himself. He’s spinning his wheels in Osmar—working part time at the gas station, living in his parents’ house, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. DJ is caught in a large, loving web of well-meaning family and friends, but they can’t fix his life for him.
Into this mess comes Ransom, a handsome mystery man on a motorcycle. Ransom is traveling around the country, making up for his past sins by doing “good deeds.” He and DJ have a one-night stand that neither can forget, but that’s just the start, because Ransom has a plan to save the carnival, and DJ has a plan to save Ransom… and possibly himself.
I enjoyed this author’s writing style before with Homespun (released 2013) and a couple of short stories in two different anthologies. So when I saw this title being listed on DSP’s coming soon page, I immediately decided to pre-order it. I didn’t even pay attention to the blurb, I just knew I wanted to try her first novel-length story.
I hope I’m not dismissing the merit of this book and reducing the interest for eaders when I say that Held for Ransom is not your traditional M/M romance. It does not contain the typical plots that have been used in M/M romance ad nauseam. Instead Layla M. Wier embroiders dynamic characters along with the allure and eccentricity of a small-town setting.
The result is what I prefer to define as “a light and down-to-earth with romantic MM undertone” fiction. If this was a movie, it would be a small-budget film with competent actors/actresses who win the audience over with their talent instead of their physical appearance. The kind of story that reverberates even after the credit roll.
And, people, this is MY kind of book; definitely one of my favorites of the year.
What I loved the most from this book – besides the writing style that reminded me of Sarah Black, Isabella Rowan, and Julie Bozza – was the characters. Each of them had their own uniqueness that spoke volumes. Ransom, the mysterious young man who was paying penance for his previous life. Amber, the kind-hearted eccentric single mother with a dragon wing tattoo and henna-red curls. Jewel, who lived in a trailer and read tarot cards for a living. In fact, DJ was probably the most straight-laced (no pun intended) compared to others. However, DJ was also the one who flourished the most as the story moved forward as he decided to explore the possibilities that life could offer him.
These details give the novels its verisimilitude and these quirks charmed the hell out of me. And for a novel that offers a story-line that happens only in mere days, everything felt natural and effective. I only wish that I could spend more time in this small town. I wish the story allowed Ransom to have more interaction with the town’s folks, although it would mean a completely different novel.
The ending is also a bit non-traditional in a romance perspective; but the slight twist made it more compelling to me (and definitely more memorable). I definitely loved the ending sentence that was spoken by Amber.
So I hope this review does the story justice. If you are looking for the romance-centric contemporary that has hot man-on-man sex scenes, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you are up for for something different, something that offers a more realistic view of small town people without the customary bigotry, internal homophobia and physically/emotionally abused boys – well, I would definitely say give Held for Ransom a try.