Release Day Review ~ Mapping the Forest by Brandon Witt ~ (Review + Exclusive Giveaway)
Title: Mapping the Forest
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Happily ever after has no map, but sometimes fate sends a guiding light.
Gabe Rice, a seasonal ranger at the Rocky Mountain National Park, can’t seem to get his life on the right trail. He loves the rugged beauty of the land, and there is no place he would rather live than the mountain community of Estes Park. But after six years, Gabe is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever get a full-time position or find love. When Gabe sees Luis—and hears his gorgeous singing—he’s compelled to meet him.
Luis Martinez, the new owner of a hotel and steak ride business in Estes, left California and a career as a therapist for a fresh start in Colorado. But even the beauty of the mountains can’t help him forget the past or move forward. Unprepared for his strong attraction to Gabe, Luis is ready to run and hide from emotions he never thought he’d have again.
Suddenly the path ahead opens to a future that looks brighter for both of them, if they can find the courage to walk forward—together.
*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*
Gabe Rice is a seasonal ranger at the Rocky Mountain National Park, in what he thought would be his dream job. But working as a ranger with the kind of boss he has is not easy for a gay man which is why he's still seasonal and part-time after 6 years. Gabe needs some excitement in his life and forces his best friend to go with him on a steak ride. The crazy ride up the side of the mountain in a jeep may not have been what Gabe anticipated, but at the top of the mountain, he gets his wish. When Gabe is served steak by Luis, he's attracted to the bear of a man. And though the steak is horrible, when Luis picks up his guitar to sing, Gabe is enthralled. Luis Martinez is the new owner of the hotel and steak ride. Luis ran to the Colorado mountain town to escape from his devastating loss and to hide from his emotions. He didn't expect to ever be attracted to or want another man and is appalled when he can't get Gabe out of his head. It's going to take work from both men to create a future together.
These characters are so well written, both supporting and main! Gabe has no family after the death of his grandfather but has created his own family with the Gay Boy Christmas Dinner (GBCD) group. He works with his best friend as a ranger, and he works part-time for his grandmother in a bookstore but he needs more. He's spent six years crushing on Todd, a friend from the GBCD and is still missing his chance with him. Gabe is an active member of a hook-up act called Scruff and is very vocal about his preferences. I loved that Gabe embraced his sexuality and made no apologies for what he wanted or liked. Luis can't stay away from Gabe's Scruff profile after stumbling across it and he can't forget Gabe's preferences or any other information he shared on the app. He doesn't realize Gabe can see who's viewing his profile and is thrown when he receives a message from him. Luis is skittish, grief-stricken and has to figure out how to date and do the things he didn't think he'd ever have to do again. He works hard to overcome his grief, so he can take a chance with Gabe, but it isn't easy. I want to say their dating attempts are hilarious but they really are just so awkward, even for the reader!
There are so many supporting characters that I loved and would really love to see their stories happen. Gabe's best friend, Jordan, loves being a ranger but is faced with similar difficulties as Gabe with their boss. She's not gay, but their boss doesn't believe women should work in his office any more than gay men. And her grandma, Rosalind is a hoot! She is old and says whatever she wants to whoever she wants. She's a great supporter of both Gabe and Jordan and is all for Gabe finding his man. She's just a great lady to have in your corner. I'd love more from the GBCD group: Rob, Paxton, Steve and Todd. They deserve their happily ever afters too!
I absolutely loved this book! Once I started it, I couldn't stop reading and stayed up too late to finish it. Then I was sad I had finished and considered just rereading it over again so I didn't have to let it go! There was a little instalove with these guys, but totally believable in my opinion, plus, trust me, this does not go immediately to an instalove relationship. These two men have to work for it, Gabe has to have patience, empathy and acceptance and Luis has to accept loving someone else. And there was no angst about being gay. These are two adult men who have lived a life, not teenagers. They are out, their families know they're gay and they have no need to stuff themselves back into a closet. Honestly, it's not something that common in reading gay romance, so when I'm treated to it in such a beautiful story, I want to acknowledge and appreciate it! I highly, highly, highly recommend that you put down what you're reading to read this book or at least read it next.
Rating: 5++++ Stars!
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