Title: The House on Hancock Hill
Author: Indra Vaughn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Jason Wood, Henry McCavanaugh
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Pastry chef and bakery owner Jason Wood bakes a mean chocolate soufflé, yet his love life keeps falling flat. He’d blame his past if he wasn’t trying so hard to avoid it.
When his family’s farmhouse burns to the ground, he’s summoned to identify a body found in the ashes. Jason returns to Hancock, Michigan, and reunites with a childhood friend, small town vet Henry McCavanaugh. After fifteen years apart, their rekindled friendship soon develops into much more. But Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance, and he leaves town unannounced to escape his feelings—and Henry’s feelings for him. He has learned the hard way if something seems too good to be true, it’s best to run for the hills. Jason stress-bakes more confections than he knows what to do with before wondering if he’s running in the wrong direction.
A great, emotionally captivating story about two men who knew each other as children and who now meet again under less than stellar circumstances, with one of them having loved the other for fifteen years. It’s all too easy to miss what’s right under your nose. Get ready for a bumpy ride, told in first person from Jason’s point of view.
Jason is a pastry chef, about to open another bakery, when he’s called back to the small town where he grew up because on a property he owns a house has burned down–and a body found inside. Make no mistake, though. This story is not a murder mystery; more like a tragic mystery, with the past playing a crucial role. Jason’s old friend, Henry, saves Jason from a car accident in the snow, and they warm up their friendship. And then some. But… Jason has serious commitment issues, and Henry’s with a man for the first time. That’s bound to end poorly. And when Jason is unable to cope with getting too close to Henry in a short amount of time and disappears back to his old life in the middle of the night, that’s a recipe for heartbreak right there.
Characterization and dialogue are excellent. They’re realistic and compelling, and you flip forward through the story, unwilling to stop before the end. The story grabs you by the balls and won’t let go until the last line. I simply loved this story. Yes, I admit Jason wasn’t all that endearing to me, not at all like Henry who I adored from the first blush. Jason has panic attacks that derive from stress, so he avoids it by steering clear of people, being emotionally unavailable. Henry, on the other hand, wears his heart on his sleeve, and it breaks your heart to see how badly Jason hurts him.
Also, be forewarned, Jason has sex with other guys in this story, after his affair with Henry, so if you have a hang-up about cheating, then this is not for you.
The plot is divided into two parts, the first with Jason with Henry at Houghton, and the second with Jason abandoning Henry and just drifting through life, not knowing what he wants or how to get it. The second part sees little of Henry, and that was a bit disappointing, but I get that it was Jason’s journey to learn how he feels, how to accept it, and change his life. The pace of the story is swift and sensual in the first part, with little imbedded details about the mystery strewn in. The second part feels a bit out of focus, as we’re taken into Jason’s inner world, shown how he processes things, the stress baking and so on. The pace slowed a bit there even though a great deal of time passed, but the writing is so enthralling I couldn’t miss a single line. Ms. Vaughn is an excellent writer.
So, overall, a wonderful story about overcoming your fears and your past, and trying to see that change isn’t so bad after all. And neither is falling in love, as a leap of faith. Plus, the name of the book makes perfect sense the moment you read that final line. Highly recommended.
Reviewed By: Susan