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Conner's Courage, Whispering Pines Book 4, by SJD Peterson
As his lover struggles, Conner looks back on when they first met. The early seventies wasn’t an easy time to be a gay man, especially in a small country town. Considering John’s pride, Conner’s need to be himself, shame, bitterness, and two stubborn natures, their love story almost wasn’t written. But they beat the odds, and Conner will be damned if he’ll let anyone take John from him now. He had the courage to stand up for what he wanted in 1974. If need be, he’ll go toe to toe with God himself to keep the man he fought so hard to love.
Please note that I am a firm believer in safe sex practices. However, this novel was set in 1974 with no AIDS in sight, and most venereal diseases treated with a simple shot, it was “The golden age of Gay sexuality."
Tissues required for this poignant, beautiful love story.
For thirty-seven years, Conner has loved John. Now, he's facing the fight all of these years of love have prepared him for. John has inoperable cancer, and Conner plans to go toe to toe with God himself to fight it.
I’ve been hoping to learn more about Conner and John’s love story since the first Whispering Pines Ranch book (they are all fabulous books). Conner has been a strong, amazingly grounded and supportive secondary character. There had to be more to his story. And let me tell you, Conner’s Courage doesn’t disappoint. Though Conner and John already have their HEA, we learn how it all started while in the background lies the thought that John’s illness makes their future uncertain now.
It was back in the 1970s when Conner first arrived at the Whispering Pine Ranch to work as their cook. He immediately endeared himself to Cole, the ranch's owner, who sees something in the cocky young man. Immediately, small-framed Conner draws the attention of the huge “bear of a man” foreman John. Their first interaction doesn’t go well. John is a closeted gay man while Conner is lit up from the inside with who he is.
A bad first exchange doesn’t stomp out the flames that slowly begin to burn their way through the 1970s bigotry and stereotypes, Conner’s anger and John's fears. The premise of their love story is very typical really. It has been written in m/m books all the time. But this author makes it seem effortless to bring two strong men together. Their vulnerabilities fully exposed, both men need unconditional love and acceptance but are afraid to grab hold of it. Despite this book not having as much angst as the others –maybe because we already know they live a long life together- there are plenty of tender moments as they learn to let down their walls and trust in each other.
This book will grab hold of your heart. The author has created a world where these men seem more like family than characters, as if readers are present and not being told a story. So beautifully written, Conner’s Courage brought tears to my eyes while warming my soul.
RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Check out my other reviews of the Whispering Pines series: