The Hideaway Inn
by Philip William Stover
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #1 in the Seasons of New Hope series
Number of pages: 288
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/M
High school wasn’t the right time or place for their relationship to grow, but now, fifteen years later, a chance encounter changes both of their lives forever.
No one in the charming river town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, needs to know that Vince Amato plans on flipping The Hideaway Inn to the highest bidder and returning to his luxury lifestyle in New York City. He needs to make his last remaining investment turn a profit…even if that means temporarily relocating to the quirky small town where he endured growing up. He’s spent years reinventing himself and won’t let his past dictate his future.
But on his way to New Hope, Vince gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and his past might be the only thing that can get him to his future. Specifically Tack O’Leary, the gorgeous, easygoing farm boy who broke his heart and who picks Vince up in his dilapidated truck.
Tack comes to the rescue not only with a ride but also by signing on to be the chef at The Hideaway for the summer. As Vince and Tack open their hearts to each other again, Vince learns that being true to himself doesn’t mean shutting down a second chance with Tack—it means starting over and letting love in.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Title: The Hideaway Inn
Author: Philip William Stover
Series: Seasons of New Hope, #1
Length: approx. 64,000 words / 288 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)
On-Sale: May 26, 2020
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $14.99 U.S.
I seem to be on a roll of reading great new-to-me authors and I’m loving it! This author doesn’t have a huge library, only a few more books before this one. But I’ll definitely be checking out what he already has out there.
Although I read a ton of romance and have read plenty of M/M romance, I don’t believe I’ve ever read any by a male author. I knew that was problematic, but with the books I always already have on tap I haven’t delved into getting recommendations for a male written gay romance. I’m so glad this one came across my email because I enjoyed it immensely.
Vince has a huge chip on his shoulder, with good reason. His formative years were rough. While he always seemed to know who he was, others didn’t accept that fact and made his life a series of bad incidents. While he was still at home and going to school, he still refused to change who he was. But as soon as he left for college he started to transform himself. He never wanted to be hurt again…physically or emotionally. He thought the best way to attain that goal was to never let anyone see the real him again. He even changed the way he spoke.
While Tack was the person to break Vince’s heart all those years ago, he didn’t do it out of hostility. Tack was going through his own thing, trying to hide his true self, and couldn’t see outside of his own fears. There’s a great line in the story about Tack not being able to tell the difference between what was expected of him from others and what he expected from himself. Don’t all teenagers have that issue? In fact, don’t people of all ages struggle with this very thing? Tack takes a very different path than Vince. Instead of putting up shields, he starts to take his down.
There were times I couldn’t stand Vince, but I understood him all too well. Because Vince had so many walls up and wasn’t confronting those old demons, there was no way for Tack to know why Vince’s moods would swing. When Vince finally lets it all out, doesn’t let the past get swept under the rug anymore, and calls Tack out on some past behavior, it’s a truly beautiful scene. I was crying and had hope peeking in that these two could find their way to each other.
I appreciate that the author included some they/their/them pronounced characters (my second book in a row with this inclusion! Yay! The world is progressing) and had some slips by the other characters along the way. We’re all still learning, but everyone in this story was open to learning. They knew slips and mistakes would be made, especially when emotions were high. They apologized and corrected themselves and it was lovely.
The only negative in this story for me was the secret keeping. I’m finding more and more that these plot points bother me. It wasn’t too bad in this one and many people enjoy the suspense of “when will they find out about___”, but it makes me too tense. I guess I’m turning into a fuddy-duddy.
I’m looking forward to more in this series (love the inclusive/safe town!) and by this author.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
That summer Vinny would come by and see me almost every day, usually with a new book. I loved hearing him talk. He described the spiritual journey of Siddhartha, the complicated plot of King Lear and even read some of James Baldwin’s poems to me that were so riveting I almost hammered my finger to a post. At school I was in a class called “Reading Foundations” and even I was smart enough to know it was for kids who were barely passing. I never felt dumb around Vinny. He treated me like I was just as smart as he was and after hanging out with him for a few weeks, I started to believe it.
Being alone with Vinny was easy. We were so different but also had so much in common. My mom died when I was a kid and he never knew his father. I never talked to anyone about not really having many memories of her and wanting more. He only had a single picture of his dad and never wanted to know more. We fit like opposite pieces of a puzzle that click when joined. Being alone together at the edge of the farm felt like freedom. But when the fence was done and school started, the world shifted back to where it was and whatever we had evaporated.
A small-town high school is a network of territories with strict borders. Vinny didn’t belong anywhere and it made his life miserable but it made me admire him more because he didn’t need to. He did what he wanted, how he wanted to do it.
My life felt like an endless list of obligations. I followed some script then and I don’t even know why or where it came from. I had to place at the meets, have the hottest girlfriend, drink like an animal at parties on the weekends. These things were expected of me or I expected them of myself. At the time I couldn’t tell the difference. I couldn’t imagine a life being anything other than the one that was already attached to me, but meeting Vinny put a crack in that heavy iron chain.
Once school started, Evie came back from her summer job down the shore, football practice began and chores on the farm took over my life. At least, that’s what I told myself. I couldn’t find a way to make Vinny part of my life beyond that summer without making my entire world explode. I ignored him at school, pretty much, even though alone in bed at night I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I kept those worlds separate because they seemed to be in completely different orbits. It was a shitty thing to do. I know it now and I even knew it then.
I left The Hideaway mad as hell at Vinny—or rather Vince—for the way he treated me in the kitchen, but the truth is I deserve everything he said to me and more. How could I ever get him to understand the choices I made back then and why I made them? How could I explain to him how hard I have worked to undo everything I did back then? Then I remember how I already started on the wrong foot. He asked about Evie and I went all mysterious and vague. I should have told him we got divorced. I should have told him that we still co-parent a wonderful, funny six-year-old. I should definitely have told him that I finally came out as bi. But picking him up on the side of the road was such a confusing surprise that my brain wasn’t functioning at full capacity.
Copyright © 2020 by Iron Bridge Creative
About Philip William Stover
Philip William Stover splits his time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and New York City. He has an MFA in writing and is a clinical professor at New York University where he is the former chair of the writing curriculum. As a freelance journalist, his essays and reviews have appeared in Newsday, The Forward, The Tony Awards, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and other national publications.
Philip grew up tearing the covers off the romance novels he devoured so he wouldn’t get teased at school. Now he enjoys traveling the world with his husband of over twenty years and sitting in front of the woodstove with their half-Bassett, half-Sharpei rescue pup and he would never consider defacing any of the books he loves.
He is thrilled to be returning to romance and loves to write cozy, warm-hearted stories served by hairy forearms with a side of fries. He can be found on social media as Philip William Stover.
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