10 January 2015

Winter Hearts by Fyn Alexander

Luke Chandler says he wants nothing more than a quiet life on his land-claim in Dakota Territory. But what he also wants is a partner. The problem is, loving other men in 1881 means a lonely life for a man like Luke. As the son of a butcher from Boston, his desire for a loving domestic relationship seems nothing more than a dream, until one winter night, a snow storm blows a young man to his door in need of shelter. As the winter drags on, bringing with it a slow-burning love, his hopes begin to soar. Along with those hopes, his fears of the reactions of the people in the small town of De Smet grow.

Sam Smith is a romantic, but he also holds a strong family loyalty. He leaves Boston to get away from his parents’ expectations for a while, always knowing he must return at some point. The sweet young man does not anticipate meeting a rugged, honest man like Luke, who is desperate for love while at the same time afraid of the repercussions. The first time Luke holds him in his arms, Sam plans on making Luke his darling man.
Winter Hearts is a lovely tale about two men who fall in love in the old west. Although the era and setting are not my preferred for romances, something about the blurb enticed me to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Ms. Alexander does a great job of creating a realistic feel to the town of De Smet and the natural perils that Luke and Sam encounter as they each try to make a go of it on their land-claims in the Dakota Territory in 1881.

I loved the way that Sam’s sweet and cheery nature complemented Luke’s gruff and stand-offish personality. They are a study in contrasts and I loved watching Sam draw out Luke’s softer side. Considering his past, Luke’s aloofness is completely understandable, but that’s what made Sam’s success so much sweeter. Sam’s early seduction scene was both sexy and funny. I mean come on, when you have to tackle a man to make him understand that you really do want him and said man is significantly larger than you … well how could I not laugh at that? Despite Luke’s inability to acknowledge and discuss his feelings, Sam understood how Luke’s feelings for him changed over time by Luke’s actions. Unfortunately societal pressures to be “normal” were far worse back then than they are today and Sam and Luke found themselves in a bad situation on more than one occasion.

I really enjoyed reading Winter Hearts. Ms. Alexander has a smooth writing style that made this an easy read. The parts of the book I didn’t like had nothing to do with her writing, but rather the realities of life for a gay man in the 1800s – which helps to demonstrate how well the author did at portraying the era. The trials and tribulations that Luke and Sam faced throughout the book were realistic and heart wrenching – not counting the seriously hot sex scenes – and kept me turning the page. I loved the way in which the book ends and I look forward to reading more of this author’s work. 


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