Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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….
Home is Where You Are ( States of Love ) by Emjay Haze is a sweet friends to lovers romance. It has as a framework one of my favorite subjects, maple sugaring’ and orchards, a subject I actually know quite a bit about as I used to give demonstrations to the public and tap trees myself. So I’m always keen to read stories wrapped around this topic in one way or another.
Here it’s a man, just come to the realization that the relationship he thought he’s been in has been one side all this time and his “roommate” is leaving him. Combine that with a family emergency and it’s time to return home to the farm and town he thought he’d left behind for good.
Haze has Eric returning to the farm and small town he left after high school because of the bullying and more he endured during high school. We later find out what the “and more” entailed and why Eric has stayed away from family and farm. I’ll say parts of this aspect of the story never added up for me, especially the father’s role. And because it felt a little fragmented, so did that event.
Phil, the younger boy, and now a man, waits for Eric at the farm upon Eric’s return. Phil has always had a crush on Eric, one that flares right up when they meet again. They meet and the attraction is hot, even if Eric is a little resentful over the inclusion of Phil into his family.
I wish I could have gotten into the Phil/Eric romance more. I didn’t really feel the spark the author intended me to. Perhaps because it felt more of being talked at…there’s a lot of that here…than actual connecting. Anyhow for me…I was far more invested in the farm’s future than theirs.
Home is Where You Are is but 95 pages and the author has a lot to fit in. If you are just looking for a sweet romance, than this one filled with mapley goodness is one for you. However, if you want more of character development and relationship dynamics, search for a longer story that’s able to go into the depths this one is not given the length.
Haze did a great job with the maple sugaring element . Kudos!
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht. Love the cover with all the sugar maples and the character of Phil on the cover. Great job.
ebook, 95 pages
Published January 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Series States of Love Vermont