Review: A Second Harvest: Eli Easton

A Second Harvest
Eli Easton
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Released July 1, 2016
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David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.

After hearing that Eli Easton’s A Second Harvest had won the category of Best Gay Contemporary Romance in the 2016 Rainbow Awards a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a copy and put it on my list of things to read before the end of the year. It’s a delightful, heartwarming, and (mostly) feel-good story that was just what I needed to read right now.

After an incident scares thirty-year-old Christie Landon into the realization that it’s time to make some changes, the timing is perfect for him to move from New York City to the small bequeathed farmhouse in conservative, rural southeastern Pennsylvania in order to center himself while preparing the property for sale. It’s a big (and boring) change of pace for the fierce gay party-boy, at least until he runs across a stash of his aunt’s cooking magazines. This newfound love of cooking also gives him an excuse to spend more time with his hunky neighbor, David Fisher, a widowed silver fox that Christie is inexplicably drawn to. David was raised in a Mennonite family and took over his family’s farm as a teenager after his strict father died of a heart attack. He always followed the rules of his upbringing, got married shortly after his father’s death, and raised two children of his own. Now forty-one, with his kids off in college and his wife dead, the joyless existence of running the farm by himself is a constant reminder of his life always being overrun with responsibilities. So when he unexpectedly finds pleasure in spending time with the eclectic, big-city younger man next door, he eagerly takes the offer to split the cost of food in exchange for home-cooked meals and companionship. With each meal, Christie’s presence reminds David of long-buried feelings that could lead to the happiness they both desire.

The delight in this story comes from its simplicity. There are few tropes I love more than the simplest of all: a love that grows from proximity turning into friendship and respect followed by the desire for more. This is definitely a satisfying slow burn caused by Christie reminding himself not to get too attached because David is straight, and David struggling to juggle his attraction to Christie while facing the feelings he thought he had control over and how to reconcile them with his upbringing and the closed-minded community around him. Of course, as a consequence, there is fallout once their decision to go for more is discovered.

I’ve read a few of Eli Easton’s stories before this one, though this is the first full-length novel of hers that I have read. Like her novellas, this story has a satisfying sense of completeness and only rarely does something happen that feels like it came out of left field—in this case, the reader’s discovery that David knows he isn’t straight doesn’t entirely mesh with the behavior David had exhibited to that point. Though this did make me take pause, it was only a small problem for me, mainly because this author’s characters are always lovable, even when they are troubled by the situations they find themselves in. The biggest one here comes simply from the set up: there’s a repeated element of religiosity found in the story, but none of it is over the top, primarily because David never uses it as a reason or an excuse not to be with Christie.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like hot-and-smutty romances just as much as the next reader, but it’s nice to read one that isn’t strongly focused on the sex. The fact that the connection between Christie and David is so good in this story and the long, slow burn that accompanies their development of feelings for one another makes the few sex scenes in the book all the better when the time finally does come.

With A Second Harvest, Eli Easton solidifies herself on my list of authors whose books I look forward to reading. The simple, believable plot and adorable characters aren’t the only things that make her books good, the storytelling is beautiful in its smoothness too. And while the situation in the final portion of the book gets a little messy, it’s all very real, and that is what makes this story a keeper.

This is still a fair and honest review, even though I bought my copy of this book. *grin*

Eli Easton
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Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a game designer, an organic farmer, an avid hiker, and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.

As an addicted reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.


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