Review: Walking Away: Peyton Miller

Walking Away
Peyton Miller
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Released December 5, 2016
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When Carter Smith wanders into a rough bar on local band night he doesn’t expect to have to be rescued by Matt Hendel, the sexy bouncer with huge muscles. That chance meeting turns into a something so much more when Carter and Matt run into each other during a business meeting. 

Carter finds freedom on the stage acting in a Broadway production, and Matt pushes his limits every day lifting weights and honing his skills so he can compete in the CrossFit games. Though they are different as night and day, Carter is drawn to Matt. When Carter’s dream calls him to California, Matt encourages him to move across country. Regret twists through Matt, but he can’t force his lover to stay and wither in a job he doesn’t love. 

Unable to deal with the realities of a long-distance relationship, Matt walks away from Carter. Alone and hurting, neither one of them is willing to take the first step towards reconciliation. All it will take is one text, but can either of them press send?

After joining this blog back in April, Peyton Miller’s After the Snap was the first debut novel I had the privilege to read. So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to see what else this author had in store when I was invited to read the follow-up work, Walking Away. While I enjoyed the story told here, I found myself not connecting to it as well as I would have liked.

Carter Smith works part-time at his cousin’s graphic design firm, both to supplement his income from and to have a safety net for his current gig as a dancer in a Broadway musical. After a night out turns into a narrowly avoided disaster thanks to being rescued by the bar’s incredibly muscled bartender, Matt Hendel, Carter is surprised the next day when the man also turns out to be the client for the latest design he’s been tasked to develop. While Carter’s passion is pushing himself to excel on the stage, Matt’s is pushing his body to its peak athletic prowess in order to compete in the CrossFit Games. The attraction is instantaneous and powerful, but when Carter lands a role that requires him to move across the country, the pressures of trying to work a long-distance relationship look to be more than the fledgling relationship can withstand.

The characters in the Walking Away are easy enough to like, and while they have little in common physically, other than being in shape, they have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Both are passionate and take pride in the activity that commands the most of their time, so much so that neither has much time for things outside this. This, of course, causes the beginning of their relationship to be focused more on sex than on the getting-to-know-you aspect, so that when the time comes for Carter to move forward with his career, the lack of communication is a big problem for them. 

The dilemma and associated angst in these sorts of stories are typically easy to believe. And here it’s no exception, but that wasn’t my problem with the novel. The novel is also paced well, reads quickly, and is without unnecessary complications and contrived drama. My problem, and I hate to keep sounding the “show don’t tell” horn when it comes to writing, is that Walking Away is another example of a story that my enjoyment of was hurt because it often felt like I was reading directions for a recipe instead of a story I could feel a part of. It’s not that details are unimportant to storytelling, but there are times when they are unnecessary. I don’t need to know every step the characters take in making, eating, and cleaning up, for example. Doing this sort of thing makes it very difficult for me to fall in love with the characters and what they’re doing. So while I can say that Matt and Carter had strong, passionate feelings for one another, the reason behind my saying this is that the story told me they did. What I want in a romance is for those feelings to come through because the author showed the feelings to me. 

So, like this author’s first novel, I finished Walking Away with two distinct impressions: the story idea here is fine, but the storytelling needs more work. It was easier for me to discount this fact in the first novel (because I know it is not an easy task), but I expect experience to result in improvement, and I didn’t get that here. In spite of my issues, this book is still worth a read, and I still see indications of potential for Peyton Miller as an author. I can only hope the next one shows me that.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Walking Away in exchange for this fair and honest review.
Peyton Miller 

Peyton Miller loves sports and loves sports romances. Growing up in the South, Friday night football was a religion, drawing more people than church on Sundays. Along with a healthy appreciation of football, Peyton enjoys baseball and hockey. When not feeding the sports beast, Peyton enjoys reading and writing.


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