Book Reviews

Finding Forgiveness (Bent Oak Saga 1) by Ari McKay at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Western / Cowboys / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 11-January-2018

Book Blurb

Boston in 1888 is quite urbane, but unfortunately for Gil Porter, that isn’t the same thing as being understanding. When his sexuality is exposed by the scandalous suicide of his lover, Gil is exiled to the small town of Mercy, Texas, by his domineering father, George, who believes life on Vernon Porter's ranch will cure Gil of his “unnatural” desires. Grieving and ashamed, Gil is determined to keep his distance from everyone until he can return home. To his surprise, he finds acceptance at Bent Oak Ranch, especially from Matt Grayson, the handsome son of the ranch foreman. Knowing he must fight his attraction to Matt, Gil courts a local girl, but an unexpected encounter with Matt leads to his discovery of Matt’s feelings for him. Torn between Matt and his desire to be “normal," between returning to his old life and building a new one in Texas, Gil is faced with a choice—appeasing his father or becoming the man Matt knows he can be.


Book Review

“A gentleman is one who doesn't and can’t forgive himself for self-committed mistake even if others forget it and the self-criticism is a mark of his right attitude towards life.” ~ Unknown

To say that Gil Porter, of 'Finding Forgiveness' by Ari McKay, has a chip on his shoulder when he arrives at his uncle's ranch in Mercy, Texas, is putting it mildly. Gil considers it “cruel and unusual punishment” to be sent away and is determined to be miserable while he's there. He's been sent there hoping the manual labor will make a man out of him and squelch his affinity for other men. Gil hates the entire idea, but he decides it's best to make a go at having a “normal” life so his father will get off his back.

Once Gil is at the ranch, he's determined to do what's asked of him without complaint, even when he should be objecting to work under less than favorable situations, like when the work has caused a physical problem, such as bad blisters on his hands. After a while, Gill discovers that, instead of hating it in Mercy, he's actually beginning to enjoy being away from the pressures of his father and Boston's high society. He likes being in a place where you are judged on your own merit instead of what your last name is or how much money you have. As hard as he tries, Gil isn't able to remain detached, especially when Matt Grayson is around. There's enough sexual tension between them you could cut it with a knife, but Gil is determined to keep from becoming involved with Matt. Matt doesn't give up easily. He tries to play it cool and bide his time. Being friends is okay, but Matt wants more, much more, yet is afraid to come on too strong for fear he will drive Gil away. Gil confides in Matt about the reason he has been sent away. This goes a long way to explaining Gil's discontent, anger, and his standoffishness as well as his lack of trust. Once Gil and Matt have their first sexual encounter, rather than bringing them closer, Gil tells Matt: “This can't happen again.” Matt is disappointed, but, considering the heat generated between them he has little faith that Gil will be able to resist being with him.

Since Gil is so determined to have a “normal” life, he decides to court one of the local women, with the intent to eventually ask for her hand in marriage. Her parents are thrilled and consider Gil a great catch. He and Tabitha McManus have a pleasant relationship, but there's no real spark between them, which is not surprising since Gil isn't attracted to women. Matt and Gil have words about the ethics involved in dating Tabitha, asking her to marry him, knowing he will never be able to love her like she deserves. Gil is undeterred, deciding being “normal”, pleasing his father, is more important than being honest with Tabitha. Matt becomes distant after the discussion and draws away from Gil, determined not to be hurt any more than he already is. He's given up on Gil ever being brave enough to live an honest life, even at the expense of other people's feelings.

Even though I was thoroughly disgusted with Gil and wanted to smack him at times, I did understand his desire to gain his father's approval and the fear of his retribution if he could not. There is so much pressure on him as the only son and heir, there's no wonder he is conflicted. Fortunately, Gil changes his mind, with a lot of help from his uncle, who is very insightful and understanding, as well as Matt, whose love helps him see his true worth. I adored Jeannie, Matt's sister. She is the heart and soul of the family and really knows how to keep her men straight. Thanks, Ari, for reminding me that I need to love myself before I can love anyone else.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 200 pages/55065 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 24-September-2014
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link