Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Peter Skinner is now working full time for Les Hardin and Randy Hersch out at their ranch after the falling out with his family and grandfather over his sexuality. With his family shunning him, Peter is happy to have found a home and new family with Les, Randy and their friends. But when he watches his friends, all couples and deeply in love, Peter feels acutely the lack of the same in his own life. Peter wants someone to love and someone to love him back. And when he does find it, Peter never expects the man to be a drunken mess collapsed in an alley.
Charles ‘Chaz’ O’Brien is in a world of pain and he has made it worse by his dependance upon painkillers and alcohol. A top bullfighter for years, the profession has taken a severe toll on his body, the last injury to his back occurring only weeks ago. Bullfighting is not only his profession, its his only love, and Chas will do anything to keep going on as a bullfighter. While on a break between events, Chas gets lost in a haze of booze and pills and ends strung out in an alley. Only the kindness of a passing stranger named Peter Skinner saves him from the drunk tank or worse.
When Peter takes Chaz home to recover, neither man expects to find themselves falling in love for the first time in their lives. But the path to happy ever after is full of obstacles for this couple, the largest one being Chaz himself. For Chaz and Peter, the choices ahead will be the hardest ones of their lives to make. Sometimes its not enough to find love, but it takes courage to keep hold and have faith. What will Peter and Chaz do?
I started this series with the best book of the group, No Going Home (Home #1). It remains my favorite of the series and I think explains why this book gets a 4 star rating, rather than the 3.5 it probably deserves. I just fell in love with all of the characters and need to follow each to the end of their journey. Leaving Home is the story of Peter Skinner, a young feed clerk in his grandfather’s store when we first meet him in No Going Home. His grandfather’s homophobia cost his grandfather’s store Les and Randy’s substantial feed account , then it cost him his grandson when Peter bravely stood up for Les and Randy, and finally Peter came out as gay himself. Even as a secondary character, there was so much heart to Peter that the readers starting asking for his story and now we finally have it.
Chaz O’Brien is another one of the group of characters in this series that center their lives around the rodeo circuit. T.A. Chase has given us bullriders, cowboys who ride the broncs as well as bulls, and now bullfighters. It is a neat way to tie together events in a series and it works perfectly here. Reoccurring characters from previous books pop up here already familiar with Chaz because they know him from the circuit. Realistic and works well within the framework Chase has set down. The injuries and lifestyle of the bullfighter (as well as bullrider) is authentically related as well. It is a tough life for those who choose to live it. It has its wonderful moments and its aspects of horrifying pain and terror. I think Chase does a terrific job of capturing that as well.
One aspect of the story here is that of addiction, not a spoiler as it is mentioned in the publisher’s blurb. Leaving Home is not a long book but for one of its length, I think again Chase does a realistic job of portraying a man in denial about his addictions and ability to handle it on his own. My only quibble is that we see his addiction but none of the recovery which would have made this story more well rounded and satisfactory.
As it is, my largest issue with this story is the ending. It is far too abrupt for the reader to feel that they received the resolution they were looking for. In fact, I feel that we are missing about a fourth or more of a book here. We are already 87 percent through the story when a traumatic event happens. That’s the penultimate chapter. That leaves only one chapter in which to tie up all the aspects of the story and give the reader a HEA and trust me, that’s just not enough to do the story or the characters justice. It reads and feels rushed, an all too familiar occurrence with this author lately and this series. You only have to look at the series to watch the books shrink as it continues. My favorite, the first story No Going Home clocks in at 296 wonderful pages. Leaving Home? 157 pages. Still, the Home series has my deep affections so I will be staying with it. I still need to know what happens with Yancey and Juan.
If you are new to this author and the Home series, start at the beginning, then wind your way through the rest of the stories. You might find that you only last part of the way or become committed to seeing it through. Let me know what you think. I will be here for the journey and will keep you all apprised.
Here are the Home series in the order they were written and should be read in order to understand the characters and events that occur:
No Going Home (Home #1) 5 stars 296 pages
Home of His Own (Home #2) 131 pages
Wishing For A Home (Home #3) 196 pages
Leaving Home (Home #4) 157 pages
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) 131 pages (Yancey and Juan) to be published May 27th, 2013
Reviewer Note: In the TA Chase horseshifter story The Longest Stride, characters from the Home series make several appearances, which to my thinking was substandard and the use of characters from a favorite contemporary series in a new, different shifter world was dumbfounding. Why would you collide two totally different worlds like that? A huge misstep by this author. Give that book the absolute pass it deserves.