Eric, recently dumped by his boyfriend, is summoned home after his dad suffers a stroke. His family farm in rural Vermont holds memories he’d rather forget, but he—with his degree in agricultural business—is needed to clear up a predicament with the bank. In trying to forget the bad, Eric has also lost sight of the good: green meadows dotted with grass-fed dairy cows and the sugar maples that once produced the area’s finest maple syrup. With Eric’s help, they will again.
A captivating farmhand named Phil tempts Eric to give the countryside another chance, but before they can consider being together, Eric must move past more than his feelings for his ex-boyfriend—he’ll need to stand up to the ghosts that sent him running from the farm in the first place….
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming Out / Closeted, Hurt / Comfort
Word Count: 31130
Languages Available: English
Greeted by the tree-lined entrance of colorful sugar maples, Eric drove the quarter-mile driveway leading up to his family home. Farther down the road was a full orchard and pasture. It was . His gut clenched like he expected his high-school nemesis to greet him at the front door with a large boot. Instead he found his mom standing with the door opened, waving with her free hand and grinning ear to ear.
Eric parked in front of the house, then stepped out of the car as she ran out to greet him and hugged him. “Eric, I’m so glad to see you.”
“Hi, Mom.” She seemed tired, but she was putting up a good front for him.
She stepped back and crinkled her eyes. “You look stressed, honey.”
“I missed you too.” He didn’t want to get into the whole Drew thing right now—or ever. “How’s dad?”
“The doctor said he was lucky and should fully recover in a few weeks.”
“That’s good.”READ MORE
“We’ll see him tonight. Come on in, and let’s get you settled.”
He followed her inside the ranch house where he’d spent his childhood. There were many happy memories growing up here, but coming home always reminded him of the crap he endured in high school, and he preferred avoidance. Here he was still faggot farm boy. They went into the kitchen, where his mom had made a fresh pot of Green Mountain coffee and a batch of homemade blueberry muffins.
“Mrs. B.” A few seconds later, Eric was faced with a very handsome man in jean coveralls and a T-shirt barely covering bulging biceps. The guy wiped his dirt-crusted hands along the front of his pants, then combed them through his hair. He looked up and seemed to finally notice Eric was in the room. “Oh, um. Sorry. I didn’t know you had compa—um….”
Eric reached out his hand. “Eric Bevington.”
The nervous man shook his hand. “I know who you are. I’m—I’m sure you don’t remember me.” He shuffled his feet and looked down at the floor tiles.
“Eric,” his mom interrupted. “You remember Phillip. The Landises have worked here since you were a child.”
This was Phil Landis? Damn. If you could get past the dirt, he was pretty hot. Although it gave him a sort of ruddy charm. Eric shook off the feeling. He was not here to hook up with the help.
“Wow, I hardly recognized you,” Eric said instead, hoping it masked his stirring lust.
“Welcome home, Eric.”
“Well, it’s nice to see you, Phil.” Eric didn’t mean to dismiss him, but he was tired after the drive and wanted to go to his room to relax for a bit before dinner.
“You too, Eric.” Phil looked back down at his shoes, shifting back and forth like he was uncomfortable being around Eric. What was that about?
“Mrs. B, I’ll finish up and be on my way,” Eric heard him say just he was about to head up to his room. He paused when his mom protested.
“Oh, Phillip. Please stay for dinner tonight. I made your favorite.”
Eric turned around and caught Phil’s smile. It was pretty. Why was he staring at his mouth? He scoffed, turning toward his mother.
“And what is Phillip’s favorite meal?” Eric wondered, sounding less snarky than he intended. And why, on Eric’s first night home, was his mom making the help’s favorite meal?
“It’s your favorite too, dear,” she answered, apparently reading his mind.
He thought back to high school when he’d have a particularly bad day from bullies, and his mom would sit him down and feed him—chicken potpie. He hadn’t had that in ages. Why didn’t he come home more often?
How often did Phil eat dinner here? A twinge of guilt swept over Eric as he realized his mom had taken on a surrogate son.
He must have looked shocked or sad, because his mom hugged him. “I’m glad you’re home, sweetie.”
“Me too, Mom.” At least he was happy to see his parents. Eric looked over at Phil still standing at the entrance to the kitchen like he was waiting for something. “So, Phil, what have you been up to since high school?” He figured he might as well get to know the guy since they’d apparently be working together for the next three weeks.
Phil walked over to the kitchen sink and washed his hands—very thoroughly, Eric noticed, although his hands were still dirt-stained. Then he accepted the glass of lemonade Eric’s mom held out, and took a sip. Eric couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. “After graduation I started helping my parents here on the farm. As they got older, I’ve taken on more responsibilities. And now they’re retired.”
“Are you married?” Eric had no idea why he asked that. But the blush that crept over Phillip surprised him.
“Uh, no.” Phil shuffled his feet, looking down at the floor. Hmm.
“So where’s the nightlife now?”
“Nightlife?” Phil chuckled, and the sound went straight to Eric’s lower belly. “There’s the Urban Cowboy in town.”
Cowboy bar? No, thank you. Guess it was too much to ask for a gay bar in this hick town.
Mom was at the counter cutting up vegetables, and then she started putting their pies together. She paused and faced Eric, giving him her famous mom-knows grin. “You’ll like it, Eric.” Mom and dad had been pretty accepting of his sexuality. He’d come home one afternoon from school with a black eye and spilled his guts. She’d baked him a potpie and held him while he cried it out.
Gay cowboy bar? Could it be that Phil…? Maybe he only suggested it because he knew Eric was gay. “Maybe I’ll check it out.”
Phil didn’t offer to go with him, so that answered that question.
“Do you mind if I clean up and get settled before dinner?”
“Of course not, dear. I’ll call you when it’s ready.”
He brought his bags to his old room. It hadn’t changed at all. Didn’t his mom want to turn it into a sewing room or something? Were they expecting him to move back one day? Of course they were.
Eric took a much-needed steaming-hot shower. He couldn’t stop thinking about Phil. Damn, he was hot—in a country boy sort of way. But not gay. Don’t think about him. Yeah, easier said than done.
He moved his hand down his body and stopped at his cock. Would it be wrong to get off with your mom and a hot stranger downstairs? Well, not really a stranger.COLLAPSE
Kristine on https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/18918861-kristine-a-cozy-booknook wrote:
Eric moved away from the family farm in Vermont to the city. He wanted to get out because he was bullied for being gay and the memories are difficult to live with. One day, when Eric returns from work, he sees his boyfriend (at least he thought he was his boyfriend), Drew, packing up and moving all his things. Drew also has a man with him…a man who actually is his boyfriend. Drew is moving to New York and Eric is completely blindsided. While he’s trying to process this, he gets a call from his Mom. His Dad has had a stroke and they need him to come home to run the farm while his Dad recovers. Eric’s not enthused, but his loyalty to his parents has him taking three weeks off from the bank he works for and heading to Vermont.
Phil is a farmhand for Eric’s family. He knows of Eric because they went to high school together. They weren’t friends, but Phil’s family has been working the farm for years. Phil’s shy, but he’s an excellent worker and keeps the farm running smoothly. When he sees Phil again, he feels an attraction, but he can’t understand why Eric doesn’t like the farm.
As the men spend more time together, they begin a tentative relationship. However, Eric isn’t the only one with a secret. His Mom and Dad have been holding back on him and they need him more than ever. Also, a big misunderstanding comes between Eric and Phil that may stop their blossoming love before it is able to take off. Can Eric and Phil get past these obstacles and begin their lives together? Or will they be too much to bear?
I love prodigal son stories. They make me feel good…if done correctly. Home is Where You Are was done right. I enjoyed it very much. Eric and Phil had a strong chemistry, and even though it wasn’t a long book, it didn’t feel as if they fell for each other at breakneck speed. They gradually went from a bit of jealousy and resentment to getting to know each other, to dating, to bed. All of this was very smooth. It gave me a chance to connect with Eric and Phil. I loved them both, and I especially loved them as a couple.
There was a strong family dynamic that was easy to understand and felt real. Eric’s Mom and Dad were easy going, accepted his sexuality, and loved him unconditionally. I also liked how kind they were to Phil and made him a member of the family. I especially saw this with Phil and Eric’s Mom. She treated Phil like a second son, and when she noticed Eric and Phil becoming closer, she was thrilled and encouraged them. I thought it was really funny when she sent them off on a date and gave them knowing winks because it was obvious they’d be having sex that night. The men were embarrassed, and I laughed out loud.
There were two other stand out background characters other than Eric’s parents: Drew, Eric’s sort of ex, and Darla a great bartender at the local gay bar. Drew was the “bad guy,” but he wasn’t dastardly. Darla was funny and supportive of Eric and Phil. They both filled their roles nicely.
As I mentioned, there is a big misunderstanding in the final quarter of the book. It was well written. It made me sad and a little angry, but it wasn’t drawn out, and it was settled without overtaking the whole plot of the story. The ending was pretty much as expected, and that was fine. It was as it should have been. No surprises, but it left me feeling good. That’s what Home is Where You Are is…a feel good story that will lift your spirits. Also, it will make you want to head to Vermont to see the leaves and have gallons of real maple syrup.
I highly recommend this one.
I really enjoyed this fast-paced story and these characters. The characters are interesting, spunky, and believable. There were a few things that could have been expanded upon to bring more depth to the characters, overall I think the author did a nice job. This is the first book by this author I have read and it won’t be my last.