Rating: 4 stars
Shelton has just flown home after receiving a phone call telling him his lover, Nevil, was injured and in the hospital. Nevil is going to be fine but the accident has made it clear that something needs to change in his life, and change now. When Shelton took the promotion and transferred to another city, he never realized the full impact of a long distance relationship would be to him and Nevil. After 6 months, he has had enough and the accident just clarified that. In fact, Shelton realizes he wants even more from Nevil. He wants permanence in the form of marriage, something Nevil has been very clear about not wanting. When an ex boyfriend of Nevil’s invites them to his marriage, all the old jumbled up feelings come out and Shelton wonders if Nevil will ever come around to a future as husband and husband.
Shelton’s Homecoming is the fourth in the Shelton series but the first I have read by Dianne Hartsock. The books plot the romance of Shelton and Nevil whose last names are never given in this book. By Shelton’s Homecoming, their romance is an established one that has undergone an upheaval in Shelton’s Choice (Shelton #3). The upheaval is obviously Shelton’s promotion in his bank job which necessitated a move to another city. Now Shelton is only home on the weekends and the constant travel and loneliness is taking its tole on both men. Dianne Hartsock does a wonderful job of giving us two men deeply in love but still making adjustments to their relationship. Shelton is someone you can easily identify with. He took a promotion that he knew he deserved and wanted but the reality of that choice on their relationship is something far different then he had imagined. Shelton is tired and stressed. And then gets the phone call to say Nevil has been injured while he is out of town and guilt is added to the pain of their separation. There are many couples today who have a similar arrangement whether by choice or economics so all the emotions on display here ring true. Nevil is a little more conservative in his approach to their relationship but clearly he relishes the fact that Shelton has come home and he has missed him dearly. I don’t have enough of their history on hand but it seems that he might be older than Shelton, at least he comes across that way. At any rate, Nevil is another complete character with complex feelings about gay marriage equating with permanence as he feels they already have that.
Much time is spent having sex, lots of hot sex, but as the men have been separated essentially for 6 months and love each other deeply, I can buy the “jump his bones at every possible moment” action as the author keeps remembering to bring the plot in as well. There is really one issue for the couple to deal with as Shelton decides in the beginning to return home and that is one of marriage. They live in a state where they can register as domestic partners but marriage is not legal. So Nevil doesn’t think having a piece of paper, one not even backed by their state’s laws, is necessary to their relationship. He feels they are committed to one another so nothing more is needed. Shelton, on the other hand, looks at that piece of paper as evidence of a long term commitment visible by wedding rings to all around them and he wants it badly. Hartsock makes us understand both Shelton and Nevil’s position on the matter which makes the resolution even more satisfying.
This is a heartwarming story and a quick read. I loved watching Nevil’s change of heart and watching Shelton and Nevil take their relationship to a deeper level of commitment. Very well done. I might go back to the beginning to see how it all started but really don’t feel that I have to in order to understand both men and their love for each other. I anticipate that Dianne Hartsock will continue the series and that a wedding is on the horizon. Count me in as I plan to be there when it happens.
Cover: Cover art by Mina Carter. I love the colors and the simplicity of the clasped hands is lovely.
Shelton stories in the order they are written:
Shelton In Love (Shelton #1)
Shelton’s Promise (Shelton #2)
Shelton’s Decision (Shelton #3)
Shelton’s Homecoming (Shelton #4)