Title: High Lonesome
Author: Tanya Chris
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 266 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Menage
At a Glance: High Lonesome is a quick read and the writing style and tone are well done; I can see people really enjoying it. For me, however, while a story that humanizes people struggling with something so huge and life-altering as heroin addiction is great, it is extremely important for the author to make sure that the characters have fully developed personality traits beyond their addiction to actually humanize them.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Joe doesn’t live on top of a mountain because he loves people. A late summer snowstorm is the perfect chance to send his customers down to lower altitude and enjoy a few days of solo strolls and fireside naps.
Tanner’s not staying at a high-altitude hut to admire the scenery. He’s got a date to keep with the sort of person you don’t want to disappoint, a date that’ll result in him earning some much-needed cash in exchange for what’s left of his self-respect. But that’s OK. He gave up on self-respect when he picked up the needle anyway.
Pyotr didn’t drop into a blizzard to rescue Tanner or to drag Joe back down to the real world. His mission is a lot colder than that. People are only pawns, and spies are only heroes to those who don’t know them.
Hermit, addict, spy. Three men, one snowstorm, zero reason to trust. And someone’s coming …
Content warning: this book contains on-page heroin use and detox. A brief argument follows the reveal of a character’s HIV status.
Review: This is a decent read that has an interesting plotline, in theory, but was a bit lax in its execution. Tanner is an engineer who decides to sell government information to fund his heroin addiction and chooses the hut dubbed High Lonesome as the rendezvous point. Joe, the caretaker of the guest hut, is six years sober and recognizes a fellow addict in Tanner. Unbeknownst to Tanner, his communications were intercepted by the CIA, and Pytor is the agent tasked to retrieve the information. Tanya Chris does an excellent job portraying how harrowing addiction can be as well as the pain and hardship that can come from trying to stop and living as a sober addict. However, for me the addiction element becomes a shortcut that functions as a plot device as well as a way to establish character depth without much focus on character development. The motivation for the plot lies with Tanner’s addiction. Almost the entirety of who Tanner and Joe are as characters revolves around the stages of addiction and recovery with neither MC having much more depth than that. All the MCs’ initial attraction to one another is quickly alchemized into a bond through the addiction, etc.
Tanner, who is in the grips of addiction for all of the story, besides the epilogue, is portrayed as frail and vulnerable and inspires protective instincts in both men, after they use his body first, of course, but beyond that, the reader doesn’t know who Tanner is. Joe, being six years from his recovery, has a few more character traits—he’s a loner who likes nature and enjoys reading, but again, how he lives his life is a result of his addiction. Then you get the stabilizing element in Pytor’s dominate nature, who is also given a sympathetic backstory to make the reader empathize with him and seem to give him a bit of depth, but again Pytor still doesn’t get much in the way of character development besides being “toppy”. His function in the relationship seems to be to give the addicts a guiding hand.
Beyond the fact that the characters’ personalities are mostly defined by the addiction element of the story, making them seem a bit flat, the intrigue portion as well as Pytor’s behavior/choices are a bit contrived and flat as well. There are only so many times that a character can point out that their behavior doesn’t make any sense or has no reasoning behind it before this narrative fourth wall breaking just stops working. If the characters continually have to make excuses for nonsensical behavior, then maybe a few modifications of the story are in order, especially given the extreme time crunch in which this insta-love happens. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that when the inevitable spy plot intrigue finally catches up to the MCs, the impetus for the action sequence the author wants to have could have been avoided by one common sense action, especially since it relates to Pytor’s whole motive for being on the mountain and what he spends most of the book, at that point, trying to do. No amount of “these guys are distracting me” character monologue can overcome the ridiculousness of the situation, given that Pytor is able to think pretty logically about his mission in other moments and has no reason to be more distracted in that one.
All in all, High Lonesome is a quick read and the writing style and tone are well done; I can see people really enjoying it. For me, however, while a story that humanizes people struggling with something so huge and life-altering as heroin addiction is great, it is extremely important for the author to make sure that the characters have fully developed personality traits beyond their addiction to actually humanize them. I could have really enjoyed this story had I not felt that all the character development was shorthanded.
You can buy High Lonesome here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07BH49L6S?d” style=”blue” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]