Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a realistic M/M reconnection romance from BA Tortuga. REFIRED is the story of two men separated by alcoholism: one who struggles with it, and the other who fears it’s disastrous influence. They are otherwise a great match, if one can forgive and forget…
Check out my review below and be sure to enter to win TWO ebooks from Ms. Tortuga.
When Kris Cerny walks back into Two Spirits, the art gallery he owns with Josh McPhee, all he wants is a clean break. Austin’s booming real estate market means the building he bought years ago is worth a fortune, and with the sale, he and Josh can finally go their separate ways. They won’t be reconciling, right? Josh may be sober now, but an addict is always going to be an addict, and Kris can’t take that chance again.
Josh isn’t willing to sell. Not yet. He’s discovered a new artist in Santa Fe he knows will put Two Spirits in the black, and if he can just make a success of the gallery, maybe he can earn Kris’s respect, if not recapture his love. He needs Kris to give him time for one more buying trip, one more gallery show. Josh wants nothing more than a final chance to make things right. Kris agrees to let Josh have this last ditch effort on one condition– he wants to go along for the ride. On the way Josh hopes they’ll find the next big thing in the art world as well as peace, forgiveness, and a love he thought was lost forever.
How about a little taste!
Josh sat there in the office that had been his for seven years, two months, and three days, looking at the cowboy who he’d thought, once upon a time, was going to be his one and only, feeling a little like he was drunk.
He rolled the five-year-sober token between his fingers, letting it settle him. Not drunk. Not even a bit.
“What? What did you say to me?” He left off the you sorry son of a bitch part.
“We got a buyer for the gallery.” Kris stared at him, calm as could be, one hip settled on the edge of his desk.
“The gallery isn’t for sale.” He owned half, dammit. Still.
Kris nodded easily. “Frankly they just want the building. Quite an offer. I don’t see how we can pass it up.”
“The gallery isn’t for sale.” He was fairly sure the words were succinct enough for Mr. Business.
“The neighborhood has changed, Josh. It’s not a boho, arty area anymore. It’s all high-priced condos and tapas bars.” Kris’s expression softened just slightly. “I think it’s time to let it go.”
This wasn’t about the gallery. This was about them. Him and Kris.
“Josh, please at least look at the offer.” Kris stood, straightening his fancy cattleman’s. God, he looked like a stuffed suit. Kris looked better in beat-up Wranglers.
“I’m not interested.” Josh felt like sitting down and pounding the floor with his fist. This wasn’t right. None of it. He knew he was a fuckup. Had been a fuckup. But he was working his shit out.
The gallery was back to breaking even, if not making a profit. Josh thought he deserved a chance to get some good new artists in for a show.
“Then are you going to buy me out?” Kris asked.
Fuck. Kris knew he couldn’t do that. The business finances were an open book. Josh wasn’t even taking a salary for another three years to pay back Kris’s initial investment.
“I don’t have to. We’re equal partners. All I have to do is say no.”
Kris frowned, dark brows drawing together over his bright green eyes. “Dammit, Josh, how long are you going to pretend this is going to work?”
He touched the coin again. Five years. Five years sober. Five years proving he could be trusted. Five years and it wasn’t enough.
“This gallery is my life.” Simple as that. He had no friends anymore, no one. He came to work and went to meetings. He hadn’t gone out to dinner with Kris since…. Christ. Christmas? Maybe? Had they even done Christmas?
“Then what do you want me to do? The building is really the only asset.”
“I’m going on a buying trip. Santa Fe area. Why are we even talking about this?” Why are you even here? Go find another project.
Kris was, like, the king of finance now or something. He had investments all over, could probably walk away from the gallery without even taking a money hit.
“Buying? With what? Your good looks?”
Josh and Kris had a strong love back in college. They were in each other’s pockets, deep. But their partying ways caught up to them. Josh gave up art, drinking his days away–whenever they didn’t have a showing at the gallery, Two Spirits, Kris had purchased for Josh to run. Kris has a bad history with alcoholism and it took a nearly tragic incident to realize: 1. that Josh had a serious problem 2. that Josh’s drinking was a serious problem for him.
When Josh couldn’t get clean, Kris cut ties.
Nearly seven years later Kris has come back to Two Spirits, to Josh with an offer. The building Kris owns, the gallery Josh has managed faithfully, soberly–for the past five years–has an offer for purchase. Josh wants to keep the place, Kris does not, but gives Josh 30 days to bring one more art show to the space, one that will raise it’s sagging reputation.
As Josh prepares to set out on the hunt for an artist he’s heard tales about, Kris decides to go along. Their chemistry is off the charts, and Josh’s in a whirlwind. Does Kris want him back? This has been his fervent hope all throughout recovery. All throughout his sobriety. Josh sees Kris’ willingness to sell Two Spirits as the end of their relationship, and Kris does, too. He wants a clean break from the man who had been his heart and world so many years ago. Plus, he knows that if he sells the property he can give Josh enough money to start over again.
While out to meet the artist, Cypress, near Santa Fe, Kris and Josh rekindle their romance. It’s wondrous and heady. Josh struggles, calling his sponsor back in Austin daily to keep himself grounded. He has never told Kris about his years in AA, and Kris is constantly waiting for Josh to screw up, take a drink. When Kris thinks this happens, their idyll is over.
This is a bittersweet read. Two men who clearly love each other, and yet cannot stay connected. Kris has never confided his deepest secrets regarding his mother’s battle with alcoholism, and how that broke his family both physically and emotionally. He has been trained to keep his family’s secrets, and his twin sister and father maintain a “scorched Earth” policy of forgiveness; burned once = forever lost.
With the fate of Two Spirits determined, Josh has to heal from the loss of his love and his livelihood. He goes back to art, and it’s the best medicine for him. Kris has some soul searching to do, and to clear the morass of his life away until all that remains is the love he might reclaim. I loved the secondary characters in this: Cypress the native artist, Zack, Josh’s AA sponsor, even The Judge and Tyna, Kris’ father and sister fill in so many gaps.
Like all books where addiction is part of the story, forgiveness is the key to redemption. This is a process, much like art. It only grows based on what you commit to it. Kris has withheld his forgiveness so long, feeling powerless to give it, based on his youth. Now, as a man, he sees the choices laid out before him and the ramifications of those decisions. Will he live an empty life? Can he, after that brief respite with Josh, bear to be alone? Or, can he make the changes necessary to be a full partner to a Josh who has remade his life into one of use and purpose, all without any prodding from Kris?
I’ll be truthful, while I found Kris a sympathetic character, I really didn’t like him for much of the book. He felt like a selfish man, using and abusing Josh’s emotions. I may not have liked him, but I did understand him–and I was glad that he was finally truthful with Josh regarding his family’s tragedy. Kris makes a complete 180 as the book winds out, but it took me time to trust him, and that was okay. Not every character needs to be immediately likable. Josh was earnest and compassionate and larger than life. His growth after meeting Cypress and finding his art again was stunning and joyful. I had complete satisfaction with Kris and Josh repairing their relationship, charting a new course. The art references were lovely, and the hints at native mysticism were a fantastic touch. This is truly a love story, but one that takes the hard road to get there. And that made is oh-so-real for me.
I can easily see this book spun into a series featuring the separate love stories of Cypress and Zack. They have men in their lives already with whom they dearly desire to reconnect.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the author:
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing porn sites in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife (still amazing to say that), Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has gone to the high desert mountains and fallen in love. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery ménages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.