Title: Bad To The Bone
House Line: Dreamspun Desire
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Length: 210 pages
Reviewed by Michael
Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again. Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom. But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.
Going home after a long time away can be difficult. Re-acclimating to the changes that take place in any town, small or large, can be daunting. Stores closed that you had frequented as a child are now closed. Friends that you had grown up with have moved away or gotten married and had children of their own.
Life goes on.
Now imagine having left town as the town Pariah, held responsible for things that were outside of your control. This is the exact situation Ricky Lee Jennings finds himself in when he returns home to his small town for his ten-year high school reunion. He was bullied and tormented in high school for being the son of the town’s alcoholic, his mixed heritage, and ultimately his homosexuality. His one friend was Alex Morrison. He was sent away after getting caught kissing another guy in the school’s library.
Alex Morrison was the star football player in high school with a bright future ahead of him. He’s awarded a scholarship because of his skills on the football field, but an injury cuts his career short, and he’s forced to return home to care for his family and run their business.
The funny thing about small towns is that the residents have long memories. No one wants to let Ricky move past his circumstances growing up, they don’t want to know the truth. No one that is, except for his former best friend, Alex.
Shortly after returning to town, Ricky Lee and Alex reconnect, and those old feelings are rekindled.
It’s kind of a slow burn, with Alex wrestling with the idea that he’s always been attracted to Ricky Lee. The villains’, if you will, are exactly who you thought they would be. I especially loved the relationship that Alex has with Sam, who, through her position as a police officer for the town, offers to dig into Ricky Lee’s past and comes up with a surprising secret.
I made a promise to myself earlier this year that I would reach outside my comfort zone and try new authors. Some have been complete misses, but I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this one.
Sometimes you can go home again.
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