When We Picked Apples Last Autumn
Title : When We Picked Apples Last Autumn
Author : Hank Fielder
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Mystery, Suspense
Length : 65 pages (e-book)
Published : July 24, 2013
Rating : ★★★
At twenty-eight, Josh Adams has more than a few secrets and personal demons. He’s an international traveler and doesn’t think he’ll ever be ready for the serious attention handsome and heroic airline pilot Benny Mills is ready to pay him. Their shared near-death experience seems to clarify everything for Benny, who wants nothing more than to share his stunning home in an idyllic Wisconsin apple orchard with Josh.
Benny offers commitment and a contented life of peaceful, loving comradeship far from the high-flying hazards of foreign travel. But for sexy love-’em-and-leave-’em-hot Josh, only another life-and-death adventure can convince him that the smoking heat of their mutual attraction is destined to be more than a hit-and-run entertainment.
With time running out, finding refuge from his increasingly dangerous world just might be what Josh needs after all. Especially when his and Benny’s very lives depend on it.
Josh Adams is flying to Vietnam on a business trip when the aircraft encounters a sudden violent storm. Fortunately the plane safely lands, thanks to Captain Benny Mills. Josh, along with the other grateful passengers, thank the Captain and crew as they exit the plane. When Josh has his chance to meet the pilot there is an instant attraction and they make plans to share a celebratory drink together.
Josh is twenty eight years old, a world traveler, with a secret desire to be a writer and not one for commitment. He is not usually attracted to older men and sees Benny as just one more conquest.
Benny is forty two, a pilot, ex military and tired of a life of traveling. He owns Glacier Creek Orchard, an apple orchard in Northern Wisconsin. Benny is ready to settle down and hopes to share this with the right person. He believes that person could be Josh.
Benny views this chance encounter as fate. He is ready to offer Josh a place to come relax, pursue his writing and share his life. Josh is sure it is just their shared near death experience that has Benny moving so fast. Even though Josh does not want to lead Benny on, he continues the evening only for Benny to stop things before it becomes intimate. He gives Josh his card and asks him to look him up once he is back in the states. This intrigues Josh and a week later he takes Benny up on his offer.
Benny tells Josh that he has given notice to the airline and plans to spend his time working in his orchard and being a part of the community. The time they spend together at Benny‘s home is romantic and there are many things about Benny that Josh finds attractive, except committing to a relationship. After Josh returns home he tells Benny that he thinks it is best they do not see one another again. Benny is crushed and continues to try and contact Josh, but Josh ignores all communication. When Josh thinks Benny has finally moved on, Benny shows up on a cold rainy night to say goodbye in person. He has decided to go back to flying and has taken a flight for another pilot to Pakistan. Josh is worried about Benny’s safety but lets him go.
This is where the book takes a big shift.
When did you first know you loved him? This is the first line in the book and starts the reader through a narrative told from Josh’s point of view that shifts between the present and past. The tale progresses as a contemporary romance, with two men having very different views of love and commitment. There are hints as to why Josh has commitment issues but it does not seem unreasonable given the time the two men have known one another. At the point where Benny comes to say goodbye and takes the flight into an area with a heightened security status, the story takes a completely different course with Josh telling the reader that we have stuck with him so far and deserve the whole truth. There are so many things happening from this point forward that I found it a little confusing. When I re-read the story, I saw that a hint was given in the beginning but I had no clue as to what it meant at the time.
When We Picked Apples Last Autumn starts out as a lovely contemporary romance, and then turns into an espionage thriller. I wanted to feel the connection between Benny and Josh but the length of time the men had known one another felt too rushed for the intense feelings Benny had for Josh. I thought Benny as a character sounded wonderful even though Josh seemed more mature than Benny at times.
I think I would have enjoyed this story more if the relationship between the main characters had more time to develop and it had either been a contemporary romance or a spy thriller with romance. It felt like it tried to be both and ended up being neither. The sudden shift in focus was unsettling, as well as the shifting back and forth in time.
Rated 3 stars by Deb