Release Review: There's This Guy: Rhys Ford

There's This Guy
Rhys Ford
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Release Date March 17, 2017
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How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him. 

Rhys Ford’s There’s This Guy is the sort of book that I wish the author had written as a longer story than it is. It best fits the trope of healing/comfort, and the primary plotline pulls the reader in from the very first scene. However, the progression of the novel and some of the author’s stylistic choices made the romantic aspect fail to click quite as well for me as I had hoped it would.

The main focus of the story is the angst around Jake Moore’s relationship with his abusive, domineering father. Jake’s entire life has been defined by the horrible actions of the man, but with his father now on his death bed, Jake’s internal darkness leaves him stuck between the pain of his past and an unknown future of being broken and alone. Dallas Yates is the new owner of the building across the street from the metalworking shop where Jake works, and the first time their eyes meet is enough for Dallas to know he wants to know the man better. The friendship that forms between them is a salve on Jake’s tortured soul, but no matter how much love and support Dallas can give him, it might not be enough to save him from his demons.

It would be an understatement to say that There’s This Guy contains a lot of drama and, with it, a great deal of emotion. This heavy tone is set immediately in the first scene, one which is uncomfortable enough that I almost reconsidered my decision to read the book. There author really doesn’t let up on the intensity much as the book progresses either, but fortunately, the characters are developed enough early on so that they aren’t lost in the quagmire of the drama. Underneath all the pain, Jake has the soul of an artist, and while he knows exactly why he’s miserable, he can’t find a way out from it. Dallas’s need to help those he cares about equips him well for being just what Jake needs, even though he worries that he may not be enough and could well end up destroyed if that’s the case.

Because of all this drama, though, I found it difficult to get pulled into the romantic pairing Jake and Dallas were forming. The tone that’s set from that first scene leaves very little time for the majority of the book to do anything other than be worried about and feel sorry for Jake while hoping that things will get better for him. While this doesn’t quite fit into the category of romances I refer to as “misery romance,” it’s terribly close, primarily because Jake’s turmoil colors every bit of the interaction between him and Dallas. 

It also means that the romance is, out of necessity, slow to develop, as Jake is in no position for most of the book to deal with anything more than just a friendship. Though it’s easy to feel their connection and the desire waiting to envelop them together, the tenor of the story doesn’t let up until the very end of the novel, and even then I wasn’t quite convinced that Jake’s growth had got to the point for my concern to be assuaged enough to feel the romantic part. 

I wonder if some of this might have been remedied with some extra scenes that weren’t so heavy on the drama. Even the subplots that are separate from Jake’s father-related issues are such that they seem to be there mainly for extra dramatic effect, something the book really doesn’t need more of. And often, these extra subplots felt like they were just extra instead of being integral to the main storyline. So perhaps my earlier assessment that the story isn't long enough is wrong; I needed it to be more focused on building the relationship between Jake and Dallas instead of on throwing ever more drama their way.

There’s This Guy is my first exposure to Rhys Ford, and perhaps this wasn’t the best place for me to start, as I’ve heard so many good things about her work. Even though this one didn’t work for me from a romantic standpoint as well as other books I’ve read, it’s easy for me to see from the way she writes that a different sort of plot could quite well be the only thing I would need in order to enjoy her books. That being said, this story is something that will appeal to many readers, especially those whose heart strings are pulled harder by reading about characters with painful pasts and how they move beyond them. In order for me to get full satisfaction out of such a story, though, I need more of the pure romance so that the resolution feels like something worth celebrating instead of just being grateful that the characters make it out alive.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of There's This Guy in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Rhys Ford 

Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications. 

She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.


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