Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.
Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.
Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.
There’s no doubt: “Love Can’t Conquer” was absolutely, utterly brilliant. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down, which led to a couple of nights with very little sleep.
In case the blurb isn’t obvious enough for you: This story is rather dark and quite angsty. It deals with past alcohol and drug abuse, past child abuse and a bit of mental illness (mostly anxiety, but also depression). There’s also talk about attempted suicide. If that’s not your thing, back away slowly. You won’t enjoy this book.
Qay isn’t easy to like. He’s really struggling with his life, but tries his damndest to stay clean and sober. That’s not always easy and he’s not always nice. The things he’s gone through didn’t make him a nice, mellow person. They made him distrustful and full of self-doubt. Still, he was a very interesting character and my heart really went out to him. Definitely not your typical romance hero and I liked that.
He doesn’t even look like your typical romance hero: He’s skinny, he’s got scars and he’s pale. But I believed Jeremy when he said he found Qay beautiful.
Jeremy has had a less troubled life. He did have his struggles, sure, but life dealt him a better hand than it did Qay. I loved him just as much as I did Qay. Both of them had real depth and had a unique voice that I enjoyed reading.
There was also an interesting collection of side characters, each with their own depth and a potentially interesting history. I can definitely see the potential for a sequel there.
The two of them were very different and yet it felt like they were made for each other. I immediately felt the attraction between the two of them and it was easy to believe their feelings.
I loved the way Kim Fielding handled the sex. The MCs didn’t just tumble into bed, overcome by lust, without any thought or discussion, the way it so often happens in these books. Instead, both MCs made a deliberate decision to wait and really made their first time together a special occasion. They took time to savour each other and I felt like the sex really added something to their relationship.
Aside from the romance, there was also an element of mystery regarding Jeremy’s ex. Some minor parts of that were a little bit predictable, but the overall solution was definitely not expected.
Qay and Jeremy had to really work for their HEA. There was a lot of stuff for them to overcome and they had to really fight for it. I often dislike endings, but here it seemed to fit perfectly.
The way Qay’s struggle with his addiction was portrayed was very realistic. It didn’t just all go away magically because of love. He had to work to stay clean and sober every day. Some days that was harder and some days that was easier. But the struggle never just disappeared.
The whole book had a rather bleak feel to it, with a dash of hope. Kim Fielding did an amazing job portraying both MCs’ doubts and insecurities and made it easy to get caught up in the story for hours on end, without realizing how much time had passed.
If you don’t mind dark and angsty, and want your MCs to really work for their well deserved HEA together, read this book. It’s right up there with the best books I’ve read this year.
It’s the first in a new series by Kim Fielding and I’m already looking forward to the next books.
Cover: The cover by Brooke Albrecht shows a lone figure standing in the middle of a bridge. It looks a little sad and forlorn and fits the mood of the book perfectly.
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon
ebook, 260 pages
Published June 3rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773217 (ISBN13: 9781634773218)
Series: Love Can’t
1. Love Can’t Conquer