Friday, June 17, 2016

Ryan Field - Sleepless in San Francisco

When young Noah Richardson sends an e-mail to the producers of the home renovation show "Dream Away," he has no idea that the host of the show, Jonathan Haynes, will be intrigued and touched by his sad story. Noah, his father, and their black lab, Tucker, have recently relocated to San Francisco to start a fresh new life and heal their wounds. And their house is in dire need of renovation.
Jonathan Haynes is desperate to find an interesting house to film for the show. So he gets on a plane and flies to San Francisco the day after he reads Noah's e-mail. But Jonathan soon finds out that Noah's father, Ed, doesn't know about Noah's e-mail and he has to convince him to do the show. The fact that Ed and Jonathan wind up on the living room floor having passionate sex during their first meeting doesn't help.
But Ed finally agrees to do the show. By the time construction begins, Ed and Jonathan can't get enough of each other. They start having secret encounters to satisfy their desires, never realizing they are building a solid relationship at the same time.
Then a series of events takes control of their lives and changes them all forever. Ed's not sure what to do. He's in love with Jonathan, and he can't get enough of Jonathan's body. But he feels guilty about starting a new relationship with anyone. So he wrestles with the conflict and begs for a sign to help him decide what to do, which leads to a surprise ending that none of them could have predicted.

Comment: This is the last book I've read. I have several m/m romances, books I've been collecting with time but as any fellow addictive reader can assure, it's difficult to manage a TBR list! Slowly, I'm going trough my lists, one step at a time. This author has a long back list so I decided to read the title I had to see if it would be worth it to keep reading his work.

This is a sort of adaptation on the Sleepless in Seattle story but instead of a radio show, the idea starts from a letter to a tv show that renovates houses. 
The child, Noah, exists too and is the one who starts things up so he can help his father, after they moved across the country. The new house needs repairs thus the thought of the show but the catch is his father is gay and they lost his partner to a crash accident and now moved to away to start again in a place where memories aren't everywhere.
Jonathan, the tv host for the show finds the idea of a gay parent appealing, as he's gay as well but when first meeting Ed, the kid's father, he's not impressed and realizes Ed wasn't aware of his son's letter but they can't help themselves and get intimate. As the renovation moves along, their lives get mixed up and what was only a strong attraction turns into something much bigger.

Plot issues apart, there are two things that disappointed me a bit in this story. Two things that compel me not to keep reading this author, despite the long list he has or the good reviews/opinions of others.

First, the narrative style isn't very appealing to me. The writing is fluid but the narrative execution and style feel so detached to me that I couldn't find empathy with the characters and that lowered my appreciation of the story. This actually doesn't give me hope for the other books by the author because I have to assume his style won't change. This means I'd probably feel disappointed again and I think that is preferable to just leave things this way.

Second, despite the adaptation, the story has enough differences that we can see the inspiration but this is not a copy. This could be good, an interesting starting point to a good story but the renovation details is such a secondary issue that it barely makes an impact. I fully expected the house renovation to be an important part of the plot, I thought we would see a simple but objective description of the works done in the house but everything was so understated, it lost all the impact it could have. Ok, one can say the romance mattered the most but... disappointing anyway, for me.

These two things didn't suit what I hoped for, but then the romance - because this is a romance - could save the day and be so amazing that my pet peeves would be overruled. However, it was soon obvious things wouldn't be as amazing in this aspect either.
The narrative style isn't very appealing and that overflew to the plot. I was not impressed by how the intimacy between Jonathan and ed started the very first day they met. The development of their relationship was filled with unemotional and exaggerated sexual meetings and I never felt we were seeing their emotional connection of personal investment. The development was very lacking to me. I've read a review somewhere and the reviewer said the potential was there but wasn't used. I have to agree because the concept of this story in terms of emotions and characterization development, the renovation, all is a good setting for a great story but the author used clichés and superficial images to explain the character's personality and the exaggerated amounts of sex scenes to the point where nothing mattered and even the HEA felt rushed and pointless.

I can understand why the overall story could/does work for some readers. But how can someone say this is a happy or romantic story beats me because we don't get to know these characters at all and the glimpses from their attitudes and past behavior surely aren't special. I wonder if this is truly a male perspective? But then, I didn't enjoy reading about these characters and wanted something more emotionally developed and polished.

The dog and Noah are the best elements of this book but sadly they aren't the protagonists so I'll just think of this story as a good reason not to read more books by the author.
Grade: 3/10

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