Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
After returning home from his long shift at work , Lon Taylor washes away the filth of the Western Australian mines in the communal showers at the trailer park that’s Lon’s home. Already showering is Casey Douglas, a young man who lives with his grandmother in the park as well. A spark of interest between them leads to a suggestion and then something more. It ends with Casey spending the night in Lon’s small trailer.
That one night is full of discovery for Lon and Casey. For Casey, it’s the first time in almost forever that he feels safe and secure. For Lon, holding Casey feels like coming home. Lon is still reeling from the explosive breakup of his family years ago. Now Lon afraid that he’s not ready or able to provide the comfort and security Casey craves. For Casey’s actions at times show that something or someone has damaged him badly. There are huge skeletons looming in Casey’s background that have to come out just as there are in Ron’s.
What will happen will the past is revealed? Can Casey trust that Lon is the one he can love and keep him safe? And will Lon can risk opening his heart again, especially when Lon feels like he has failed his family so badly in the past?
The Shearing Gun was the first Renae Kaye story I fell in love with. Safe In His Arms is the second. Both stories are steeped in the Australian areas they take place in, filled with the regional flavor and dialects that make the reader feel as though they are there along with the characters. In Safe In His Arms, Ron works as a FIFO employee of one of the large mining corporations in Pilbarra, Western Australia. FIFO means “fly in, fly out”. Mining employees work long shifts living in small temporary rooms called dongas, then they fly home for a short time of rest, relaxation, and clothes washing, then fly back out again. All for the huge salaries paid to them. Kaye makes us understand all the aspects of this extraordinary life and the tough men and women who live it. It’s hard in every way (physically, emotionally, intellectually), well paid, and in some cases, very dangerous. And Lon’s been doing it for some time and feeling its effects on body and soul.
Casey is younger, much younger, a fact that might squick some readers. It does some of the characters here, including Casey’s mother, grandmother and some of Lon’s friends. I like that Renae Kaye addressed this element and the manner in which it is handled makes any uneasiness fall away. Casey’s had a hard, abusive life and is far older than his years (he turns 21). What happened to him as a child is horrific and unfortunately, all too familiar a story. That Renae Kaye has Casey using therapists, doctors, and prescribed medication to deal with the abuse and its after effects is responsible and makes us understand the lengths to which Casey is going to help himself heal and move forward. Letting us into this healing process also allows the readers to feel close to Casey, letting us into his mindset and heart. We soon come to love this person who has been through so much. Casey isn’t blind (can’t be with the scarring) to the full extent of the damage inflicted upon him and yet still Casey wants love, physical love and is mature enough to take the responsibility to help others understand why as well. Yes, I adored and loved Casey.
And I feel the same about Lon. He’s complex, huge, and hurting in his own way. Through Lon’s backstory, we see what a case of fetal alcohol syndrome can have on the maturation process of a child (not Lon) and what tragic effects that can have on a family. It’s another type of parental abuse that will affect the child from the moment its born, another authentic and heartbreaking aspect of this story. It’s just so well done. There is so much damage and pain on both sides, albeit in different ways. Watching Lon and Casey work through their pasts, their bouts of non communication and age issues is wonderful and helps the reader totally commit to these characters and their slow building relationship.
Other pluses beside characterizations and plot? The setting and location as I have already mentioned. Kaye took me to Perth’s Cottesloe Beach, the red dust of Newman, and the intense heat of the red dirt mines of Pilbarra. I learned that the Fremantle Doctor is a sea breeze and exactly what they call flipflops and coolers (that is a fun discovery you will want to make on your own) in Australia. I loved that beach scene! Hilarious. I was grounded so thoroughly in Australian culture I could feel a “G’day” wanting to escape my mouth as I swatted the mozzies.
I am so happy to have discovered Renae Kaye. She has quickly become a “go to” author for me. I highly recommend Safe In His Arms, along with The Shearing Gun. Pick them up and start your journey into Australia and this terrific author. Happily, there are other stories from Kaye to pick up and revel in just as I intend to do. Happy Reading! G’day!
Cover artist Anna Sikorska does a wonderful job with that powerful representation of Ron Taylor. Brooding, hulking and gorgeous. Great cover.
ebook, 208 pages
Published November 28th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press