Re-Release Review: Do You Trust Me?: B.G. Thomas

by - Friday, February 03, 2017

Do You Trust Me? (2nd Edition)
B.G. Thomas
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Released February 3, 2017
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The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.

All his life, Neil Baxter has buried a large part of himself—the part that’s attracted to other men. He married a woman and denied that side of him existed. And he plans to keep right on pretending to be straight after his beloved wife has passed away.

To help him deal with his grief, Neil’s sister-in-law convinces him to vacation at a dude ranch. There, Neil meets Cole Thompson, a young, gorgeous, unabashedly gay wrangler—who is unabashedly attracted to Neil. And try as he might, Neil cannot deny he feels the same way. But desire soon becomes something more profound as the two men get to know each other. Cole is much more than a sexy cowboy: he’s kind, spiritual, and intelligent. In fact, he’s perfect for Neil…except he’s a man, and Neil isn’t ready to let go of a lifetime of denial. If he cannot find the courage to be true to himself, he might let something wonderful slip through his fingers.

First Edition published as Trust Me by Amber Quill Press, 2011.

Do You Trust Me? is my first exposure to author B.G. Thomas, and while I think the story is better classified as a Bildungsroman of sorts than as a romance, it was mostly a solid read with a compelling point-of-view character whose story touches all too well on some realities of the formative years of modern forty-something gay men—something I have a lot of knowledge on, considering I’m 43 and gay.

Despite a dude ranch being the last place he would ever go on vacation, Neil Baxter reluctantly accepts his dead wife’s sister’s invitation to take her dead husband’s spot on their annual week-long trip. He has spent his entire adult life as a straight man after traumatic events in his past caused him to bury his attraction to men so deeply that calling him closeted doesn’t even scratch the surface. But at the dude ranch, he meets Cole Thompson, a hot gay wrangler who doesn’t hide who he is. He also doesn’t hide his attraction to Neil, whose own desire for Cole leads him either to face his past or lose the best thing that’s happened to him.

While Neil is a much older character than those you typically find in coming-of-age stories (he’s forty-five), Do You Trust Me? largely fits that mold. The largest part of the plot revolves around his coming to terms with his buried sexuality, and the path is far from a happy one. Neil has ample and compelling reasons for forcing himself to deny his sexual nature. After living with the loneliness of being a widower for two years, he’s shocked by his attraction to Cole, and the fact that Cole is a man makes it all the more troubling for him. There’s a good bit of homophobia vocally expressed by Neil in the story, and while that made him a difficult character for me to like at times, it fit with the progression of the story, and it was a believable reflection of how the events in Neil’s past would have shaped the man. These events are revealed in bits and pieces during the first half of the story before finally being fully told during a heart-to-heart with his sister-in-law before he can fully accept himself for who he is, the key thing that had stopped him from acting on his desire for Cole. Cole is an ideal fit for Neil. Not only is he hot, he’s also patient, caring, intelligent, and spiritual. And though he’s twenty years Neil’s junior, he’s always been attracted to older men. Put all of this together, and Cole is the perfect catalyst for Neil to face his demons.

The painful emotions of the process came through without question in the author’s storytelling, resulting in a read that I really enjoyed. That being said, there were times when I felt like the author was beating a dead horse. The writing comes across as a little repetitive, particularly with some of the things Neil thinks. The lengthy telling of the events that caused Neil to bury his sexuality made me cringe, not because it was particularly ugly or troubling but because they contain long and highly detailed recollections of Neil’s intimate encounters as a youth. I certainly don’t have a problem with the knowledge of a boy being sexually active, but when the activities are told in at least as much detail as—and with more page time than—his sex scenes with Cole, it didn’t sit well with me, especially since Neil’s repressed sexuality was not caused by his childhood homosexual experiences themselves but by what happened after each of them. As such, it felt like the focus was a little off.

Putting this heavier stuff aside, the times when Neil and Cole are together, both publicly and intimately, are wonderfully heartfelt. As the story progresses, the depth of their connection is quite beautiful. There’s a large element of spirituality woven into the storyline. While “God talk” is something I usually frown upon in my M/M romances—simply because it tends to make assumptions about the reader—here it’s more of a general philosophizing, so I wasn’t bothered by it. Being a romance junkie, though, I wish the author had added more story developing Neil and Cole’s romance in order to make a better balance between it and the heavy of Neil’s journey. What there is of it is a pleasure to read. I just wanted more of it.

Do You Trust Me? is a powerful reminder that growing up gay is often a difficult and painful struggle, and B.G. Thomas takes no pity on making this point through Neil’s eyes, sometimes in ways that made me wish his details had been a little differently focused. Despite my problem with it, the overall story is well worth the read because, even in real life, it’s never too late to find your true happiness, and that’s what this story is really about.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of Do You Trust Me? in exchange for this fair and honest review.

B.G. Thomas
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B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and half, and that marriage has been legal since 2014! They share their home with their fabulous dogs, Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is lucky enough to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn't matter the genre. Since he’s gone conventions since he was fourteen years old, he's been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers, many of whom inspired him to pursue his own writing dreams.

Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he decided to begin writing for the first time in years. Gay men are what he knows best, after all. He submitted his first story in years and was thrilled when it was accepted in only four days, and since then has had over thirty short stories, novellas and novels published.

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

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