Review: Buchanan House by Charley Descoteaux

Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died, she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie, Nathan, pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn't far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.

Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings, and over the months leading to opening weekend, Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman, he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach wasn't trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.

It started good and then...

It crashed.

Buchanan House starts with Eric grieving at his grandmother's funeral. His grandmother was the only positive family figure in his life. Eric's family is homophobic and his mother tries to make a scene at the funeral, they feel they deserve to get a share of Grandma Jewel's will. Eric, with the help of his best friend and his grandma's best friend, puts a stop to the money hungry family with a little clever trick. Eric, living a grueling job as a cook, pools his money with his best bud, Nathan, and opens a resort in Oregon named the Buchanan for the only bachelor American president.

The story was solid up to that point. It kind of jumped around with Eric and Nathan not discussing actually purchasing the resort or Eric's drinking problem that disappears in the rest of the book. this became an issue for me. I would just start getting used to a new idea being introduced and then the story jumped to a different plot point or twist and I'm left wonder and rereading what I missed. Because I must have missed it. I'm wondering who's on first, who's on second while the story is already on fourth base and it skipped third.

The romance started late in the story and then went from level 1 to 10 super fast. Eric has issues: self-esteem, bad break up (he's only been in one relationship and the ex boyfriend was a douche-knuckle with the same name as the current love interest), grief, psychosexual anal issues which relate to his family's homophobia and his struggle with his self acceptance/hatred of his bisexuality (Freud would have a field day with him) So you add all of that and his love of cooking and then the cast of characters and friends into only a novella...the romance will get shortchanged unless the author kept an eye on it.

What the story gave was rushed romance, decent-ish gay fiction, but both suffered because the other half wasn't strong enough to help carry the story.

What I liked:

- The QUILTBAG cast of characters. - The author tried to include as much of those letters in that acronym as possible. Ambitious but it was cool.

- Eric wasn't the typical hot, anal-ready, tall, good looking, sexually aware main character. He was 33 and still questioning his sexual identity as a bisexual man. He still had hang ups (don't we all) and yes his family and their homophobia added to his mental issues with his anus (Freud would have a field day with this guy)

- Eric cried a lot. He was emotional, short and bitchy but still a good person. I liked him. The story not as much as him. Because he became real to me, the way he was written. Eric getting his happy ending. His friendship with Nathan. Though I question the speed of their relationship, the way Tim and Eric acted toward one another was great.

The Problems:

- Storytelling/style - I might be not too clever enough to get all the points of this story. It was too jarring, the pacing was weird instead of quirky.  When it finally hit its stride (last fourth - was far too late to make much of an impact)

- While trying to include the entire QUILTBAG, the romance was swept under the rug -  Eric and Tim barely speak more than a handful of sentences, Eric goes from pining for Tim assuming Tim falls for him more glamorous BFF within two weeks of working on the job. Tim reads standoffish, then enter a big life or death crisis and suddenly Tim is all about Eric. Um...when? (this is an issue I'll discuss later) Then the two are zipping through a relationship into a white wedding in a matter of months when I'm still stuck on the fact they didn't have a solid starting point. The author does a great job of trying to stick every letter from LGBTQIA and having a character represent each faction. And that is great. Thank you. Also the disabled characters also get some shine. Love it but while all those characters are getting included...the romance, or lack thereof is the one that suffers.

- Rushed ending - So not only was I playing who's on first, who's on second and what the hell did I leave on third base, the romance continues to speed train into a HEA whether the characters were ready in my opinion or not (they weren't).

- And the story's 'villain', Eric's brother Zach, who I thought the author did a decent job of portraying as a homophobic bully, just does a 180 without any retaliation or revenge in a phone call? Not buying it. Greedy people don't just stop being greedy because you will it to be or have friends of friends in high places. If the brother was just going to be forgotten like that toward the end, why include him in the first place? The evil mother in the beginning did a fine job of being the bad guy without having to write an evil brother. Yes, he does help add dimension to Eric. But overall, if he starts with a bang and ends with a minor peep, to me, Zach wasn't needed.

I've read this author in the past and enjoyed her work, so I'll just take this as an off day and look out for something else from her in the future. I did enjoy the ideas in this one, wanted to love this so bad but the execution was off. 
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