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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Hired Man by Jan Irving

The Hired Man by Jan Irving
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Reverend Ian Kenyon knows the harsh sting of life and how a man can suffer a loss of faith. The death of his wife and newborn son shook him to his foundations, and he's been drifting ever since. Bryn Morgan has returned home from prison to the only family he has—an abusive father who abandoned him to the law when Bryn was unjustly accused of rape. Still poor, lost, and shunned, Bryn searches for work, any work that will allow him to survive.

Reluctantly moved by Bryn's plight, Ian hires the young man to work on his farm despite Bryn's prickly, defensive nature. Soon Ian fears his growing feelings of grace and compassion might be something else, something more... heated. Whatever the cause, he knows they are impossible to pursue, because Heaven only knows what would happen if a man of God began to have forbidden feelings for his hired man.

The Hired Man is a wholly unique and unforgettable story that delves into sensitive subject matter. There are various obstacles for the protagonists to overcome, such as prejudices and coming to terms with ones sexuality. But even more important is the tragedy that has touched both men, and the scars of the past which bind them. Each hero is tortured in his own way, and through spectacular writing and timing, you’ll be exposed to each along the journey.

When we meet Bryn, he’s abused, battered, and all but broken. He’s served four-years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and the stigma remains like a banner over his head inside the small town that is well aware of his transgressions. The only person he can think of that might offer him work is the beautiful Reverend he used to watch through the church window. Upon visiting the farm of the man of God, he lands a much needed job.

The Reverend, Ian is a fraud. Although playing the part, the loss of his wife and son turned him away from God. When Bryn shows up on his porch, asking for a job, he nearly turns the poor man away. There isn’t much left inside him but darkness, and saving a stray is the least of his concerns. Still, he relents, and gives Bryn the opportunity to rebuild his life. When Bryn doesn’t show for work one day, and he finds him beaten by the side of the road, Ian takes him into his house, and more importantly, allows him into his heart.

I enjoyed this story from beginning to end. It stands apart in the M/M genre with characters that aren’t conventional, yet manage to work their way into your heart. Bryn understands he’s attracted to men, while Ian struggles with the realization that he desires what is considered wrong and immoral. The path to happiness waits, if only they are brave and wise enough to embrace it. Due to outside forces, you’ll remain uncertain if a happily-ever-after is possible, which makes the ending all the sweeter.

A must read for Jan Irving fans. If you’re looking for a memorable M/M historical romance that tugs at the heart, be sure not to miss The Hired Man.

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