Title: Stand in Place
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 311 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance, Magical Realism
At a Glance: At the end of the day, this was a truly wonderful coming home/second chances story. Was it perfect? No. But, I loved the hell out of it.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: One summer won’t be enough….
Kaenon Geary was done fighting the small minds in his sleepy Texas town when he made his escape and never looked back. But now, for the first time in more than a decade, he’s returned to Braxton to spend the summer with his beloved grandmother—her final summer—and no longer recognizes the home he’d left behind all those years ago.
Everything has changed.
Everything but the man he’s never stopped wanting.
Brody Scott was the local football hero who became a gridiron champ, but he retired from the fast lane to forge a new life as the Chief Constable of Braxton. He longs to put down roots in the community he is now sworn to protect. Though he’s not at all sure he can protect his heart from the quiet, earnest boy he once knew. The boy who has come back a man.
Starting something would be a mistake. Kaenon plans to fly away at summer’s end, but his love is something Brody desperately wants to have…and to keep. Their days together are numbered. Unless some simple hometown magic can make all the right things bloom and show them the true definition of love.
Review: It’s late at night—early, early morning, actually—I’ve just finished Mary Calmes’s newest novel, Stand in Place, and I’m a big ball of feels. *sigh* This story has so much heart, you guys. Calmes clearly set out to write a homecoming story…a redemption story…and I think she nailed it. This book is classic Mary Calmes, in all the best ways. It’s funny, it’s romantic and sexy, and it will undoubtedly tug on your heartstrings. There were a few little things that made me raise my eyebrows a bit, but whatever small issues I had, they were by far outweighed by the sweetness of the story.
Let’s talk main characters… The blurb will lead you to believe that Kaenon and Brody are the MCs, and to some extent, they are. At least as far as the romance is concerned. However, I would actually argue that the main characters are really Kae and his grandmother, Jo. The relationship between those two was, in my opinion, one hundred percent the heart of the story. The focus was on their history and their bond, and Kae’s return to his hometown of Braxton, Texas. This was really a homecoming story with a strong romance subplot. Which I suppose might be a problem for some readers, if they were expecting a full-on romance. But, for me, it flowed perfectly. The romance was absolutely still enough in the forefront to pull me in and have me rooting for Brody and Kae; I loved them together. And their chemistry was absolute FIRE. Like, your Kindle might for real go up in flames. I’m talkin’ fire. Haha.
Calmes is so, so good at writing relationships of all kinds, and she’s a master at dialogue. The banter between Kae and Jo is pure gold, and there are some very funny moments between Kae and Brody too. And, as in all her books, it’s not just the MCs who get all the play. The supporting characters and friendships are also fantastically developed. Portraying strong and lasting friendships is another of Calmes’s strengths, and the theme of ‘chosen family’ is very prevalent in this book as well. Which I love. I also appreciate how much she loves to set a scene. From the setting itself, to the people, and everything that’s happening, no detail is left out. However, it can get to be too much at times. I feel like I don’t necessarily need the full name of every person that comes on the scene, as well as complete details of their clothes, and eye and skin color. Sometimes all the extraneous details start to bog me down. BUT—she knows how to craft one helluva story, and to pull out all her readers’ emotions while she does it.
As I said earlier, the heart of Stand in Place is Kae’s relationship with his grandmother. Jo, along with Kae’s grandfather and his Aunt Peg, Jo’s sister, took Kae in when he was fourteen, after his family threw him out for announcing that he was gay. The three of them helped him deal with the anger, and the heartache, and the horrible bullying he endured his first year of high school. So, when Jo requests that Kae come home to Braxton for the summer as her dying wish, there is no way he can say no. Also as part of her wish, Jo gets Kae to agree to restore her garden to its former glory, but as Kae starts working on the project, he comes face to face with his past, and starts to realize that Jo has bigger plans that simply wanting him to spend her final summer with her. I looooved Kae’s relationship with Jo. And, I loved all the stories about Aunt Peg (who, by the way, was a witch) and about how she taught Kae all about plants, and herbs, and rocks, and gemstones, and spells, and on and on. He so obviously adored her and treasured their relationship, too.
Speaking of spells…There is also a magical realism story thread in the book that is quite cool. It’s a pretty common belief that Peg had some special qualities that allowed her to connect to the earth and also to people, and it seems that most people think Kae has the same gifts. I liked this aspect of the story a lot, but also think it needed to be explained and fleshed out a bit more. There were several things that happened in the story that were related to the magic, but that weren’t really developed or explained enough.
At the end of the day, this was a truly wonderful coming home/second chances story. Was it perfect? No. But, I loved the hell out of it. Sure, some of it was over the top, but if you are a fan of Mary Calmes, you are going to dig it too. It was a lovely, magical, feel-good book, and when it ended, I actually pouted a little, because I wanted more! I’m so happy I picked this one up. 😊
You can buy Stand in Place here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07VCM4QK1?d” style=”blue” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]