Book, Line And Sinker by L.J. LaBarthe

Book, Line And Sinker by L.J. LaBarthe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (197 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

After seventeen years serving in the Australian Army, Ash returns to his childhood home in the outback town of Quorn. Filled with the desire to live a happy life in peace and with loved ones, Ash is grimly determined to beat his PTSD and tackle his flashbacks.

What Ash isn’t prepared for is Jaxon, the new librarian in Quorn. Jaxon is calm, gentle, kind, and a rock for Ash’s battered psyche. Ash finds himself falling for the handsome newcomer, even as his mind and memories of the past torment him.

When he has the idea for a mobile library to bring books and entertainment to remote communities in the far north, Ash is delighted that Jaxon is with him every step of the way. But though the library, called Book, Line, and Sinker, takes off, Ash’s past continues to plague him. Can Jaxon’s love be enough to keep them together until Ash is strong enough to stand on his own?

Ash was finally home – back in the Flinders Ranges in Australia. After Army tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan he was more than ready to return to his quiet, sleepy little home town. Jaxon is the local librarian and a calm, friendly newcomer. Can Ash find some peace with Jaxon?

I found this a wonderful story. The pace initially felt a little slow to me – but after a few chapters I managed to sink into it and could even appreciate the more gradual unfolding of the characters and plot. Ash in particular is quite a complex character to my mind and being able to really get to know him before the romance and plot kicked in had me completely hooked.

I especially loved how while Ash did show signs of PTSD and was clearly a changed man from his tours in the Army, it wasn’t some dramatic, over-the-top type of thing. Indeed, the small nature of his twitches made them vastly more believable to me. A dustcloud down the road sending him mentally back to the desert. Being jarred by buildings in his old hometown no longer holding the same businesses. Nightmares. These sorts of small disjointed things made everything so much more believable to me. Ash can function, appears to be mostly coping, but he’s still changed and in his own way struggling. I found myself really sympathizing with him and eager to discover just how deep his wounds ran – then find out how he’d recover and move on from them.

Sadly, I wasn’t too sure on how gay-friendly a small, outback Australian country town would be to two gay men – one an ex-Army man to boot. While I struggled to find that aspect of the story realistic, it truly was a small fault. I was happy to overlook it in the interest of discovering how Ash and Jaxon got on together. I really found the story to be heartwarming and for the most part a lovely long, slow, sweet fall into love for both men. The sex was hot and descriptive and unlike many erotic romances Ash and Jaxon didn’t just immediately jump into bed. I found that refreshing and very cool. The book-bus idea was something I found awesome – and such a clever idea I actually was tempted to go do a google search and find out whether it was really happening or not!

For a slow paced, deliciously romantic M/M story this certainly hit the spot for me. I loved the descriptions and story revolving strongly around a small Australian country town. Add in a bunch of strong secondary characters – all interesting and vibrant in their own rights – and this story felt to me like it had something for every reader. Recommended.

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