Promises by Marie Sexton

Dreamspinner Press

Gay Contemporary

ISBN: 978-1-61581-379-7

Reviewed by Cassie

 

   

 

Despite his degrees in physics and teaching, Jared Thomas lives in the small town he grew up in and works at the hardware store he owns with his brother and sister-in-law.  Heís basically content with his life, but he gets lonely.  Then Matt Richards, the townís new police officer, comes to the hardware store to look at the Jeep Jaredís sister-in-law is selling, and Jared thinks he might have found a friend.  Jaredís gay and Mattís straight, but Jaredís so happy to have met a kindred spirit he doesnít careóat least at first.  Will Jaredís growing feelings, and Mattís obvious confusion, ruin everything?

I really enjoyed Promises.  Marie Sexton takes the friends-to-lovers and seemingly straight guy tropes and turns them into a story thatís emotional, dramatic, and has just the right amount of angst and conflict.  Even the fact that the narration is first person (from Jaredís point of view) didnít diminish my enjoyment of Promises.  Outwardly confident and secure in his sexuality, but inwardly conflicted and afraid, Jared is a great character.  Having lived in a small town myself, I couldnít help sympathizing with his feelings of isolation at being different.  Matt is also a realistic and sympathetic character.  Heís a good cop and friend, and he does an admirable job of ignoring the whispers about his friendship with Jared.  His confusion about his sexuality, and his relationship with his parents and coworkers, lead him to make some hurtful decisions, but I understood why he made the choices he did (even when I wanted to slap him).  The conflicts, both internal and external, are well done.  The small-town setting is nicely drawn too.  Secondary characters, Jaredís brother and sister-in-law, Mattís family, Mattís fellow police officers, and others, help to explain a lot of the aspects of the story we wouldnít ordinarily get to see through a first-person narratorís eyes.  At different points, Promises made me smile, laugh, frown, and even tear up a few times.  I felt emotions right along with Jared and Matt.  Not too many books have made me do that lately, but Promises more than lived up to its title.  Iíll definitely be seeking out more of Ms. Sextonís work.

     

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