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REVIEW: When I Come Home – Frances Regan

When I Came Home - Frances Regan

Genre: Sci Fi, Gay Military, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, MMM

Reviewer: Gordon, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

Indi Hyde came home from Afghanistan to Blue Hyde Ranch, which was left when his father died. Struggling to live as a double amputee and depressed. His only friend is Angel, a therapy dog. The dog drags him out of the doldrums of life, helping Indi to learn to live. Then, a day at the sales, and the glimpse of a man in a cowboy hat, brings Indi closer to a love he never thought possible.

Dr. Jase Wade is an equine specialist with an appaloosa herd of his own. Moving to the United Kingdom in search of Indi Hyde, the owner of the only stallion that will enable him to produce coloured colts, with the gene missing since the solar flash. Now he has met Indi Hyde, Jase isn’t sure it’s all he wants.

Dr. Leo Calvert is autistic. Living on the spectrum hasn’t been easy for Leo. He feels things many people don’t. Sal, Leo’s therapy dog, alerts him when his anxiety spikes. In love with his best friend Jase, a meeting with Indi Hyde confuses Leo. But will it be enough to make him walk away?

Warnings: Autistic meltdown, CPTSD attacks. Male/Male/Male romance.

The Review

This is a good romance story with several unfortunate strikes against it. The biggest of these is the frequent punctuation problems that run through virtually every paragraph, and which serve as a distraction, on occasion an annoyance, or even a problem.

The punctuation errors that are easily recognized as such merely distract the reader. Such as the use of three different ways to represent time that occur within the space of a single page, from  “around 2300,” to “around 8:00,” to “only 19.00 hours.” Once the reader becomes resigned to them, however, these errors are not a big issue.

But then there are more significant punctuation problems, which force the reader to break off and consider what the writer meant. For example: “What a cock? Leo thought.” The reader goes: A question? That can’t be right. The thought must be an exclamation, a celebration, as in: What a cock! Okay, but now the flow of reading has been broken.

And finally, on several occasions there are errors that leave the reader mystified as to what was actually meant. Fortunately, the slight hieroglyphic quality of the text is usually decipherable.

The thing about these errors is their being unnecessary. A single-pass, thorough edit would correct  them: the question marks for statements; periods for questions; commas connecting separate  thoughts—for which a semi-colon at least would be needed, or more properly, a period; and even  names that are not capitalized, as in, of a mare: “I registered her [as] stars and stripes, but we call  her spangles for short.”

The point here is that the story and the writing itself are both quite good, and deserve better editing.  What strikes the reader is the strength of the prose, which features a strong story-telling ability.  The writer brings every scene right to the reader, placing them in the moment, in the story.

The central story thread is the romance, between three men, two of whom face barriers to forming  love relationships: Indi with his post-IED physical ordeal, of amputations and PTSD; and Leo,  with his autistic personality. The writer deals with such issues as grafts, infections, as well as self doubt and incipient despair, with sensitivity and kindness.

The heart of the story, pun intended, and where the writing shines, is in the emotions: hopes, fears,  loves and doubts – and how the spirit of the person deals with them, facing them or not. There are  emotional moments, interactions of human feeling, of sympathy that really move the reader. Here,  the evocation of emotional scarring with its root in physical injury, in this case loss of limbs, and  the attendant painful longings to be loved in spite of this:

“This is amazing, Indi, an amazing design,” Leo whispered, yawning.

His fingers, gently ghosting over the color of the tattoo.

“It’s beautiful but sobering, Indi,” Jase said. “I love you; never doubt that physical injuries will stop me from loving you.”

A sob tore from Indi’s throat. Turning into his arms, he buried his head into  Jase’s shoulder. His arms reached for Leo, pulling him into them both.

Characteristically, however, the above passage, powerful as it is, also demonstrates the major strike again—in that the statement “…never doubt that physical injuries will stop me from loving you,”  actually means the reverse of what it intended, which would be, properly stated, something like,  “…never doubt. Your physical injuries will never stop me from loving you.”

The interest of the romance is enhanced by the three-sided relationship that is sought—a thrupple  in fact—and this too is handled well by the writer. There are other interesting questions raised, such as the odd behavior of Indi’s hand, Charlie, and the possibility that the IED incident was a  targeting due to homophobia.

There is a smaller strike against the story, in the confused description of the historical sci-fi event of the solar flash. The set of consequences to those two flashes do not provide a coherent picture of what the events themselves were, and how they effected such devastation. This is not central to the story, being the background that allows the writer to imagine a new and changed world, but a clearer handling would set the world more solidly.

So, a good story, featuring some powerful exposition of emotional situations and presenting a challenging romantic goal, hampered with editing errors and a confusing back-story. Still, well worth the read.

The Reviewer

About Gordon: Having received formal training in the world of science, Gordon has always found relief from the strictures of present-day reality in reading fiction, mostly fantasy, horror and sci-fi, fiction that explores regions of what is sometimes called the Kingdom of If. Here the rules can be virtually anything, allowing for greater possibilities of wonder and strange discovery. Gordon also writes, among other things, stories of M/M romance within these genres. This provides the opportunity for exploring how characters, some of them possibly not fully human, might act and react in truly strange circumstances. He writes romance because, of all the mind-blowingly possibilities inherent in the creation of imaginative worlds, the most mysterious and magical are the operations of the human heart itself, including its curious ability to grow when broken.

The Paranormal Romance Guild was established in 2009 by 8 Indie Authors and one Reviewer to be a constant help for authors. You can be a free author member, submitting your work for review OR become a Premium Author Member for a small yearly fee and enjoy many extra services including Free Beta Reads, Author Giveaways and many others. Your reviews are posted on our 3 FB Sites, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. WE REVIEW ALL GENRES LGBTQ+ welcome.

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