Review by Jodi: Somebody to Love by Merry Farmer

 

Title: Somebody to Love
Author: Merry Farmer
Publisher: Smashwords
Rating: 4/5 Smooches
 
Blurb:

For Phineas Bell, love has not only been out of reach, it has been
impossible. In a world where men who love other men are anathema, he has poured
his love into his work, his town, and the friends who accept him as family. But
when a handsome new lodger takes over his home and his heart, breaking all his
careful rules, Phin must choose between playing it safe and letting love in.
War hero Elliott Tucker is the answer to Cold Springs’s prayers
for a sheriff worth his salt. But with every single woman in town throwing
themselves at him, Elliott has eyes for only one person: Phin. The sparks are
hot between then, but in spite of Elliott’s best efforts, Phin’s heart proves
the toughest nut to crack. A love that starts with fire threatens to burn them
both…
… until a shocking abduction throws Phin and Elliott together on
the trail of ruthless kidnappers. Will their efforts to save a child wrench
them apart or will it prove that at last they’ve found somebody to love?
Review:
He
[Elliot] was supposed to be the seducer. He was supposed to be the one to set
the tone, determine the pace, and take what he wanted. At the moment, all he
wanted to do was fall to his knees and give Phineas Bell everything he had,
forever.
Somebody to Love
is the sixth book in the Montana Romance series by Merry Farmer. As Farmer noted
in a recent
interview, “the series is set in the late 1890s.  The first book in the series, Our Little Secrets, takes place in 1895
and each successive book is set between then and 1900.” Somebody to Love takes place at the turn of the century: The
Industrial Revolution is in full swing, technology is changing, and admitting
to being a homosexual could get you killed.
Sheriff
Elliot Tucker knows how homosexuals are looked down on in society, from
experience. He has built a fortress around himself to hide that part of him. Thanks
to the classification of being a war hero, Elliot believes that he is safe from
people’s prejudices. To the world, he presents the façade of a stereotypical
alpha male. He is vain, cocky and very full of himself.
A veteran
of Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders, Elliot has put his career of being a
door-to-door salesman long behind him when he swaggers into Cold Springs as the
new sheriff. He is hell bent on being in control and his intimidating and
attractive physique seems to demand respect, as well as some head turns. He has
no intention of revealing his innermost secrets and desires. All bets are off
though when he meets mild-mannered banker Phineas Bell.
A locked door separated the lobby from the main section of the
bank. Phin managed to unlock it with Eloise still in his arms, then stood back
to let Christian through.
A second man came with him. Phin had never seen him before. He
was tall with broad shoulders and dark, curly hair. He carried himself with
palpable confidence that shone through in his bright, dark eyes. A few of the
ladies in the lobby stared at him through the open door whispering behind their
hands. Yes, Phin definitely would have noticed this man.
Before Christian could introduce him, the man stepped closer to
hold out his hand with a warm smile. “Elliott Tucker, at your service.”
Phin’s heart thumped against his ribs at that smile, at the
glittering mischief in the man’s eyes, at the scent of sandalwood and musk. He
felt the tell-tale rush of blood to places generally ignored, delicious and
dangerous.
Of
course Elliot realizes Phin and he have similar leanings right away. However,
when Phin confesses to liking men, Elliot is floored. He has never met anyone
as open and honest as Phin, and that makes Elliot rethink his plan of immediately
seducing the banker. Elliot decides to help Phin go back into the closet and
redeem his reputation in the eyes of the townspeople. He seems to assume that
Phin will be grateful for his help and jump into bed with him. Not only do
things not go as planned, but they skyrocket out of control quickly and very
humorously.
Elliot
renting a room from Phin is a convenient detail that seems to cement the
lawman’s plans, but readers quickly see the hazardous potential for everyone
involved.
He slid closer, thumping Phin’s back and leaving his arm draped
around his shoulder like they were old friends. Phin’s skin prickled with hope
even as his mind rebelled. He kept his expression in the perfect mask of
neighborly contentment, smiling from Christian to Michael. Christian looked as
pleased as a picnic. Michael raised one eyebrow over his glasses. At least Phin
wasn’t the only one who saw the potential train wreck on the horizon.
It
is difficult not to smile when meeting Phin, especially when he is engaged in
conversation with his niece Ellie. Phin is a gentle man, who has a depth and
compassion to him that is slowly revealed to both readers and Elliot. Phin’s
honesty is both a positive attribute and a fault. Family and friends are
important to Phin as is being honest. He does not hide who he is from the
townspeople, and he does not use people as cloaks, unlike Elliot. Although the
townspeople do taunt Phin, they also seem to afford him respect, which is a bit
lost to Elliot at the beginning of the book.
Phin
is not unaffected when he meets Elliot. There seems to be an instant attraction
there, but, of course, Phin does not want to reveal his feelings. He is
convinced Elliot would be appalled, and Phin, in turn, would be scandalized.
There was absolutely no good reason whatsoever for Phin to read
anything more into the introduction to Sheriff Elliott Tucker than what was
there. The man was outgoing, friendly, bold, and intelligent—qualities that any
competent town sheriff should have. He should be swimming with joy that they’d
finally found someone worthy of the position.
There was no reason for him to have completely lost all powers
of concentration for the afternoon or to be suddenly conscious of parts of his
body he’d largely ignored either.
But the words in his newspapers had become so much blur in the
hour since Elliott Tucker had stood in his office and shook his hand, and his blood
seemed to have developed a will of its own.
His skin was flushed and warm. His palm still tingled where
Elliott’s fingers had brushed it. He stared at it, wondering if it had all been
a trick of his imagination, a result of denying his basic urges for so long.
It’d been years, decades since he’d been with a man, but he’d always considered
a disciplined regimen of redirected thoughts and self-gratification to be enough
to pay Nature’s toll. The thought that it wasn’t, that the sight of one
well-built, smooth-talking stranger walking into his office and smiling could
dredge up every urge he’d deliberately put aside, was disconcerting, to say the
least.
The
fact that this story is set in 1900 in a small, western town adds intrigue and
charm to the characters and the plot. Farmer has written an engaging story that
draws the reader in from the beginning. The characters in the book are
multi-dimensional, and even without having read any other books in the series,
readers will appreciate the charisma of these characters and their connection
to each other.
Both
the romance and mystery of this story vie for center stage in the plot:
corruption, kidnapping, criminal enterprise, a dramatic fire and a well-timed
bar brawl all have the power to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Despite the mysterious sisters and their nefarious plot, this story is charming
in an old western movie way. It is interesting that Farmer has used women as
the villains in this story. Although that seems a bit odd for the time period,
it fits with the comments the characters make about the people at the mining
company being crafty.
Of
course, when Elliot and Phin finally fall into each other for a first kiss, the
heat is palpable.
He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against Elliott’s
neck. Five seconds. Just five seconds of falling apart, then he would pull
himself back together, stand tall, and do what he needed to do to get to the
bottom of things. At least now he knew what he was up against, and that he had
an ally in his sheriff.
He drew in a breath and
lifted his head. Before he could even meet Elliott’s eyes,
Elliott clasped the sides of his face and drew him close for a
kiss. Their lips met and a jolt shot straight through Phin’s gut. Elliott was
soft at first, drawing out the brush of their mingled breath, the tenderness.
After a heartbeat of hesitation, he pressed closer, slanting his mouth over
Phin’s and sucking on his bottom lip. He drew back and met Phin’s eyes. Far
more than gentle concern lit their depths.
“I thought you might need that,” he said, breath ragged and
eyelids lowered with desire. “I hate seeing you in distress.”
“I….”
Words didn’t seem right. Phin leaned into him, reaching out and
returning the first kiss with a desperation that rose from the center of his soul.
He opened his mouth against Elliott’s, gasping when Elliott let him in. The
taste of him was solid and sensual. He closed his arms around Elliott, digging
his fingertips into the corded muscles of his back and pulling him closer.
Elliott kissed him with a powerful need, like a dam breaking, his tongue
sliding along Phin’s.
After years of chastity, Phin met him passion for passion,
exploring, tasting, feeling. He couldn’t get enough of Elliott’s mouth. The
hard and soft of it thrilled him, the intimacy of tongues and lips and teeth
searching for each other heated the blood in his veins.
Farmer’s
prose are beautiful and descriptive. The town of Cold Springs is welcoming and
aptly a direct contrast to the barrenness represented by the mining town of
Anaconda. Farmer uses irony, symbolism and humor in an appealing fashion within
the pages of this story. The dialogue works well in this story and helps deepen
both the plot and characters, even though it may not be one hundred percent
authentic for the time period.  
Thank you to Merry
Farmer for providing a review copy
of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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