Title : Thorns
Author : Feliz Faber
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Mystery, Suspense
Length : 260 pages (e-book)
Published : July 26, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
How can love between two men possibly be responsible for a horse’s death during the Kentucky Derby? Reporter Will Yeats wants to know the truth.
Seventeen years ago, a love affair between a jockey and a horse trainer and a tragic accident on the racetrack scandalized the horseracing world. But Nic Pithiviers and Louis Meerow seem to have no desire to set the record straight: they refuse the interview and send attorney Francis LeBon to question Will’s motives.
Francis has a special place in his heart for Nic and Louis, who taught him to take pride in himself as a gay man, and he’ll stop at nothing to protect them from a gossipmongering reporter. However, Francis doesn’t expect the reporter’s honesty and genuine determination to exonerate two men falsely accused… or the growing attraction to Will he feels.
While visiting with Nic and Louis at their horse training center in France, Will uncovers a web of intrigue, secrets, and old lies, and he unwittingly sets a series of perilous events into motion that not only threaten to destroy his budding relationship with Francis, but Nic and Louis’s decades-long commitment as well.
Thorns is set in Los Angeles, 2005 and sports journalist Will Yeats is given the instructions by the editor of the gay magazine, Flag, to find a gay man in horse racing to write about in anticipation of the upcoming Kentucky Derby. While doing his research, Will stumbles on the story of the mysterious death of a horse, Brian’s Melody, at the 114th Kentucky Derby in 1988. After speaking to the acerbic and rather offensive Teddy Sampson, a retired journalist who originally covered the race, Will is led to the dead horse’s trainer and jockey, who Sampson suspected at the time of being gay. Seventeen years after that fateful race, Will tracks jockey, Louis Meerow and trainer, Nic Pithiviers down to La Thillaye, a horse training centre in France. Armed with their contact information, Will intends to call them for an interview after checking in with his editor. But Friday night and several drinks later, he throws caution to the wind and, out of boredom, places that call. Enter Francis LeBon. Prominent cheekbones, full lips, six foot two sex on legs, lawyer. And carrying a Cease and Desist warning from a rather irate French horse trainer. LeBon requests Will to meet him to discuss the matter further. During dinner, Will and Francis develop an easy banter which their mutual attraction quickly turns into flirting. When Francis asks Will why he wants to write a story on Louis and Nic, Will replies, “There was that picture. The dead horse, and behind it, these two men—they looked so unmatched and yet they fit, somehow. Like they belonged… I don’t know, this is probably my imagination running off with me, but I thought immediately that they looked like lovers. And then, the way Sampson talked about them, so disdainful. As if the whole mess with that horse had only happened because they were gay. It was… It didn’t sit right with me. Something was off, and I thought perhaps I could… I dunno, rectify things for them or something.” It’s enough to convince Francis to offer Will a proposition from his clients to join them at their home in France for the purposes of interviewing them providing Will agrees that the 1988 race is not a subject they are willing to talk to him about. Will agrees. The night ends in Francis’ personal proposition to Will and a passionate night that leads into a tentative relationship over the next few weeks as Will prepares for his trip.
As Will slowly draws their story from Nic and Louis, it appears that there is more to it than any of them expected.
I loved this book. With a well crafted plot, fluid writing and descriptions that made you feel like you were there it was the perfect balance of mystery, intrigue and sex, along with two love stories – one established and one just beginning. How to review this book was kind of stumping me because except for towards the end when the mystery side of things were all coming together (and I didn’t want to spoiler that), it was just a lot of little things going on. But I loved those little things. Like the interactions between the characters, the details of daily life for a jockey, or a horse trainer, Nic and Louis telling their story, the growing relationship between Will and Francis – these are the things I enjoyed most. Will and Francis were hot and sweet, playful and passionate and I loved them together. Even with a good third of the book was spent with them apart, I was so caught up in everything else that was going on that it didn’t seem out of place at all. The conflict that occurred in France between Will and Francis wasn’t drawn out and felt very true to life. The scene that results from it is powerful – raw, thoughtful, believable, painful and hopeful, it completely caught me up in the emotions of these very real feeling characters. In fact, all of the characters were complex and real. Louis and Nic were fascinating and I loved the unfolding of their story. And while that story in itself was interesting, it’s actually the day to day interactions between themselves and with Will that I really found myself enjoying the most. In a lot of ways, even though it’s told from Will’s POV, the romance of both couples are treated as equally important. I’ll definitely be checking out more from this author.
Rated 4.5 stars by BookSmitten