Guest Review: Carry Me Home by Sterling Rivers

After his mom dies, Aiden Price returns to Texas to deal with the aftermath. Amidst disapproving family and painful memories, Aiden finds solace in love letters he discovers in his mom’s attic. Needing a change when his sexual orientation is unexpectedly revealed and his dad rejects him, Aiden sets out on a journey to Montana to find the mysterious author of the letters. There he meets Cody Bannar, who volunteers to be his guide.

Cody had a rough start in life but after being adopted into a huge, loving family, he lives out and proud, unafraid of what others think about his sexuality.

Aiden and Cody hit it off and Aiden is welcomed into Cody’s family with open arms. As they continue on their quest, they begin to fall in love, but Aiden isn’t ready to commit to Cody, or to embrace who he is.

Not until after the truth behind the love letters is revealed does Aiden realize his mom would have wanted him to follow his heart. And home is where the heart is—firmly in Cody’s hands.

The idea that love letters written in the past can resonate in the present captured my imagination and I devoured this story.

Narrated by Aiden Price he tells of his return to his childhood home in Texas, distraught at the prospect of the imminent funeral of his mother. He feels both responsible and overwhelmed tasked with putting his mother's affairs in order with very little support or practical help from his distant divorced father and elder sister.

In the attic of his family home, Aiden discovers a stash of love letters in an old military chest that belonged to his maternal Uncle Georgie. The letters are from someone called Bibby whom Aiden assumes to be a woman. On closer inspection however he realises Bibby is in fact a man. Aiden has kept his own sexuality a closely guarded secret, and tries to imagine what it must have been like in the 1950s for Bibby and Georgie.

Impulsively, Aiden decides to take a lengthy road trip in the hope of tracking down the elusive Bibby and discovering what happened to him following Georgie's death at the end of the war.

Aiden finds himself in Valley Forge, Montana and his quest to find Bibby leads to his own journey of self discovery.

Enter stage left Aiden's love interest Cody, who volunteers to help track down Bibby using his local knowledge and contacts. Cody is vibrant and outgoing, the adopted son of a loving and demonstrative family but he also has his own demons to deal with.

In truth, I found Cody just too exuberant and Aiden a little too reserved and secretive, but they clearly have the hots for each other even if it takes some time to get over initial reservations.

With Cody's help, and the beauty of the love letters written from the heart, Aiden comes to realise he has spent too long trying to be the son his father wants and may never get the acceptance and approval he craves. Aiden takes the time to reassess his life whilst searching for Bibby.

Frankly, I found the ending just a little contrived for my more cynical sensibilities, however it is both poignant and charming.

Aiden and Cody get to know one another as their search continues. Aiden gradually comes to terms with mourning his mother and the secrets held between them. He discovers that family can be so much more than the one we are born into. Choices we make about both whom and how we love, can be even truly fulfilling. This is a beautifully etched bittersweet tale of love and self acceptance and the underlying knowledge that home can be wherever you choose.

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Dreamspinner Press


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