Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Choosing Home
SERIES: The Call of Home #1
AUTHOR: Alexa Milne
PUBLISHER: Pride Publishing
LENGTH: 181 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2016
You can never escape from yourself.
Zac McKenzie is an ex-professional footballer with a secret he gave up his career to protect. Several years ago, he fled to his home in the North East of Scotland to avoid being outed as gay. Now, he owns a successful hotel and restaurant, but is it time to finally come out into the open?
Seth Pritchard feels he is damaged goods. He comes to Scotland to escape memories of the accident that left him injured, his bullying step-brothers and a life of lies.
For their whole lives, Zac and Seth have denied who they truly are to themselves as well as to others. When they meet, each man is forced to confront his fears and tear them down one by one.
Reader advisory: Dubious consent. Recollections of physical abuse, emotional/mental abuse, torture and drug abuse. Profanity.
After a car accident that cost him the proper use of his leg and his relationship with his girlfriend, Seth needs a bit of space from the world. Not only to help him get used to the limitations of his leg, but to help find himself. Luckily there is an opening in a hotel/resort in the Scottish countryside, run by Zac. Zac who ran from his profession as a celebrity football star for Scotland, when he feared he was going to be outed as gay, knows all about needing to get away in order to find peace. But with the two of them still struggling with being in the closet, and Seth dealing with his past, it might be impossible for them to find a home together in this new place.
While this story certainly started off well, by the halfway mark I was desperately fighting the urge to just skim the damn thing. Maybe it was because I was reading this while stuck in the arctic circle of a hospital waiting room–and was therefore reasonably distracted–but as the story went along the characters just got less and less interesting. They had quite of bit of potential in the beginning. Seth with his injuries and dark past, Zac with his fear of coming out and what it ended up costing him–there was a lot here to work with. And in the beginning it was good. Just…after a while the story around them just got boring and cliche, and it leached out any color they once had.
I found most of the secondary characters in this completely forgettable and when they interacted with the main characters it was in such a forced manner that I had a hard time believing that they could exist in any world of their own. The dialogue was too flat, too much like a formula like MC 1 needed to bring up something for the plot so SC 1 must mention such and such even though it didn’t really tie into the current flow of story. And while it got the needed result it felt too contrived to be real or interesting.
And while I really like that Seth actually gets therapy for his issues, the rest of his abuse sub-plot was just tired and overdone. It lacked any real emotion, real impact, and it made me roll my eyes when I should be sympathizing with the character. Not to mention that the wrap up of this particular subplot was so….obvious, unrealistic, and ham-handed. I’m not sure why exactly most stories that center on a character’s abusive past seem to require that they physically confront their abusers thereby proving they are fixed now, but here it is again. And it is so overblown. I didn’t buy it for even a second.
That and a lack of any real pacing, made this one hell of a boring read. Even if there are portions of it that worked well. What started out as three-dimensional characters in the beginning are by the end nothing but cardboard cutouts of their former selves. This books falls into cliche, hangs its hopes on an overburdened trope, and offers very little that is unique.