Title : Finding Shelter
Author : M.J. O’Shea
Series : Rock Bay, Book #3
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Angels and Demons, Fantasy/Paranormal
Length : 204 pages (e-book)
Published : April 29, 2013
Justin Foster has nineteen years of nothing but trouble behind him. After escaping his abusive father, he finds himself in Rock Bay, Washington, with his cousin Travis. Justin is bruised and has a hard time trusting, but with the help of his family and the small town, he might be able to heal.
Logan O’Brien is also new in town, hoping he can finally get away from his past and the memories of the girlfriend who shattered his heart. It doesn’t take him long to realize Rock Bay can be more than safe harbor: it can also be home. And for the first time in his life, he finds himself captivated by a man—by Justin.
Justin is attracted to Logan too, but he’s also wary. Physically, Logan reminds him a bit too much of the closeted jerks who used to beat him up after school. But after one awkwardly amazing kiss, he’s smitten, despite how his past and insecurities continue to haunt him. Logan’s love, faith, and stubbornness are just what Justin needs to believe their love is worth fighting for.
Finding Shelter is the third book in MJ O’Shea’s Rock Bay series. It begins with Justin Foster’s flight from an emotionally and physically abusive father to Rock Bay, where he meets Logan O’Brien – charming, good-looking and straight? Well…Maybe not so much!
We’re first introduced to Justin at his family home, where the years of beatings and vicious slurs at the hands of his alcoholic father have gotten to a point where there’s a very real possibility if he stays, he’ll likely die from it. His mother, aunt, uncle and cousin, Travis, have a plan for his escape as soon as his father, a trucker, next goes on a trip. However, it’s become increasingly obvious that if Justin stays a day longer he may not live to see the next. He puts the escape plan into action early and flees towards the safety of Rock Bay.
Logan has been staying in Rock Bay with his best friend, Mason, while dealing with the sudden break up of his relationship with Carrie, the girl he thought he was going to marry. He’s decided that he likes life in the bay and plans to stay. He’s been working as a caterer/barista at the local cafe, a job he enjoys. When he first sees Justin, his world is completely turned upside down. Logan may not have been attracted to a man before, but his reaction to Justin is immediate and undeniable.
Travis also works at the cafe, but is planning to leave for California. He trains Justin in preparation for taking over when he leaves, and it’s here that Justin and Logan meet. It takes a little time, but Justin settles into his new life and starts to feel more secure. At first he doesn’t know what to do with the attraction he has for Logan and attempts to drive him away, not believing that a straight man would be okay with a gay man’s crush. When Logan calls Justin out on his behaviour, both men realise that the tension can’t continue if they are going to be working together, so they decide to try and be friends. When Justin’s father calls, threatening him, the first person he thinks of is Logan. Logan immediately goes to Justin and their friendship is well and truly cemented. Weeks later, Justin arrives home to find that his father was there, harassing his aunt and uncle for his whereabouts. He gets scared and believes the only option he has is to run so people who have been good to him don’t get hurt. He calls Logan to say goodbye, but Logan persuades him to meet first. Logan then suggests an alternative solution, allowing Justin to stay. I’m glad the author took this approach and didn’t have Justin taking off just for the sake of more angst.
There’s a good balance with the seriousness of Justin’s backstory without it descending into over the top angst. This is, after all, first and foremost a romance. And it’s a lovely one at that, with very endearing characters. Logan is gorgeous. Warm, friendly, funny, fun-loving and open. In the words of Justin, it was impossible not to be enchanted by him. Although in the previous book of the series, Letting Go, he is portrayed as absolutely straight, he is just so accepting of the fact that he’s completely attracted to a guy that it’s easy to just go with it. His best friend is gay, as are his two bosses at the cafe, so he’s already been shown as open-minded and secure within himself. It was nice not having the additional angst of the ‘straight’ man coming to grips with his sexuality. There’s enough with Justin’s issues that it would have just felt like overkill. Justin is comprised of contrasting layers as a result of the violence he’s lived with. Alternately vulnerable yet strong, unsure yet fearless. He’s just so easy to adore. I really loved both characters.
Despite Justin’s history, there is a lot of joy in this book. There’s one scene where they’re playing frisbee on the beach that just made me smile so much my face hurt. It was lovely to see Justin slowly come out of his shell and gain more confidence. As Logan and Justin spend more time together, it becomes impossible for them to deny that they care for each other. There was a good build up of tension here. Just when you were thinking ‘get together already’, wham! Their relationship is really well paced without being too unbelievably smooth. There are little hitches, like after their first kiss when Justin thinks he’s blown their friendship, that made it feel realistic. I loved how the author showed how much they cared for each other by the characters’ actions. From Logan staying with Justin while he slept after suffering a nightmare, to small gestures like a brush of the hand in passing. They really are so sweet together. I loved that Logan and Justin’s relationship was slow blossoming without ridiculous reasons keeping them apart or trumped up excuses forcing them apart. The internal thoughts that give it realism work, creating some hesitancy without feeling forced. Logan is worried about scaring Justin away, so tries to move slowly and give Justin some time to mend. Justin has suffered years of abuse, both physical and mental. That sort of thing leaves enormous damage to self-esteem and confidence and it’s only logical that Justin would think that good things just don’t happen to him when that’s all he’s ever been shown. There wasn’t a lot of sex in this book, it would have been unrealistic for them to have fallen straight into a relationship, but when things do get started, it’s so hot and sexy!
There are a few little inconsistencies and plot holes. Nothing major, but a couple of spots that just didn’t gel or felt unnecessary. There were also a couple of lost opportunities. For example, the first time of Logan bottoming would have been significant for both of them, but it happened off page. In another instance, what could have been a powerful confrontational scene, fizzled a bit for me. I don’t really understand why that particular scene played out the way it did, or in that location. It just seemed a bit too trumped up for the sake of the plot, without actually moving it forward anyway. The scene of Logan and Carrie’s closure was well done. The author avoided the cliche of going down the route of who was previously portrayed as a nice person suddenly turning into a bitch ex-girlfriend, which I appreciated. The scene after that had me rolling my eyes a little, but the last scene totally made up for it! It was beautiful and heartfelt and I loved it. This is a lovely romance between two very engaging MCs and supported by characters that were like visiting old friends. Gentle and sweet, I really liked the build up of their relationship. Logan and Justin balanced each other out beautifully and I found myself very much enjoying their romance. In the end, Finding Shelter left me feeling warm and happy.
Rated 4 stars by BookSmitten