American Road Trip by Sarah Black

American Road Trip by Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (86 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

Easy and James were together in Afghanistan and while nothing turned out the way either one liked, they both moved on with their lives in their own ways. But when Easy’s brother, Austin, needs help Easy comes to collect the debt Jamie owes and the two set off on a bizarre road trip with Jamie’s half-blind tiny dog, Tino. Can they forge something new from the ashes of their past hurts?

Written in the first person I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. While I really would have enjoyed seeing some of the story from Easy’s perspective I do feel that James’ descriptions gave me a decent understanding of the other man. With a lot of water under the bridge, the two men initially only came together for the joint goal of finding Austin – wounded on a mission with Easy and James in Afghanistan – and returning him home. It’s clear there is tension and some chemistry between Easy and James from the moment they meet again, but it takes a while for them to be open about their desire for each other.

I was pleased with the pacing of Easy and James dipping a toe back into their relationship. In that sense the whole road-trip plot was gold – giving them time and space to talk, to hash out both where they were mentally and emotionally, but also to explore where they’d gone wrong in the past and what they’d leant and taken away from it. I’ve not read many stories like this and I found the whole set-up refreshing and interesting – two men with a stormy past travelling on a mission, road-tripping across America in both an adventure and communication experience where they had no distractions, only each other to rely on and talk to.

Readers looking for an intensely erotic or complexly plotted storyline might not feel very satisfied with this book. Personally, I enjoyed the slower pace and conversation-heavy style of story. Easy and James were multi-layered characters with a lot of history and plenty of twists and turns in their characters. Their joint mission – to find Austin and assure themselves of his well-being – was a great goal and kept the story moving at a decent, if slow, pace. I liked watching Easy and James reconnecting and discovering themselves in their new post-Army lives and trying to work out how they could rekindle their romance and build something permanent between them. A good and well-written story I enjoyed reading.

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