Philip William Stover
published: 26th May 2020
No one in the charming river town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, needs to know that Vince Amato plans on flipping The Hideaway Inn to the highest bidder and returning to his luxury lifestyle in New York City. He needs to make his last remaining investment turn a profit…even if that means temporarily relocating to the quirky small town where he endured growing up. He’s spent years reinventing himself and won’t let his past dictate his future.
But on his way to New Hope, Vince gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and his past might be the only thing that can get him to his future. Specifically Tack O’Leary, the gorgeous, easygoing farm boy who broke his heart and who picks Vince up in his dilapidated truck.
Tack comes to the rescue not only with a ride but also by signing on to be the chef at The Hideaway for the summer. As Vince and Tack open their hearts to each other again, Vince learns that being true to himself doesn’t mean shutting down a second chance with Tack—it means starting over and letting love in.
In The Hideaway Inn, Philip William Stover begins the story of a diverse group of characters finding love without boundaries and across the Seasons of New Hope.
Galley provided by publisher
About a quarter of the way through this book, I started hate-reading this book. And that’s because the main character said of the love interest “I can’t help toying with his insecurity”. If you think I can sympathise with a character who thinks this, you got another think coming.
Up until then, the main character had just been sort of frustratingly arsehole-ish, but that had mostly been understandable since he had experienced some form of trauma at the hands of the potential love interest (or so I thought, but more on that later).
And then that line.
I just don’t see how I can get past a line like that and come to even like the protagonist, let alone love him. But that is exactly what this book required me to do.
Most of my review notes, understandably, centre around just how much of a dickhead Vince was, and just how much better Tack deserved. But I’m not going to say Tack was an angel in all this – obviously how he treated Vince impacted on him fairly severely – but in the story being told in the present, he all but was.
But anyway, I was all set-up and ready to sympathise with Vince on finding out just what Tack had done to him. And then I did find out. And.
There is, of course, no telling what will deeply impact on a person and how they’ll take it, sure, but I have to say I was expecting a little more than what I got. As I understood it, Tack is busy dealing with a combination of internalised homophobia and a massive arsehole of a father. Vince, as a young kid might, insisted that Tack had to feel comfortable with himself. Tack did not, Tack got a girlfriend, Tack stood aside and didn’t speak up when Vince was being bullied. (This last part is the only thing that I can sort of sympathise with Vince on, but Vince’s complete inability to even try empathise, over fifteen years on? I got stuck on that.)
But Vince and Tack never even really had anything beyond friendship. That’s what gets me. To all intents and purposes, this is an unrequited love on Vince’s part, and yet he takes it all in so deeply as to become even more of an arsehole to Tack than Tack ever was to him.
Vince has some excellent grudge-holding abilities.
It’s that grudge that leads him to be unable to forgive Tack for what he did years ago, on first meeting, and then treat him like shit throughout, until he does apologise (necessarily, obviously). At which point, Vince forgives him but never apologises himself for being such a dickhead. They get together and Vince never apologises. What this book gets right is that what you might do and who you might hurt while closeted is not excusable because you are closeted. What it gets wrong is, I think, refusing to treat any such shitty behaviour after the fact as inexcusable.
And then, like a car crash you can see coming about fifty miles off, the angst comes.
It’s not really spoilery to say that the angst centres on Vince’s desire to flip the hotel (it’s in the blurb). But what really annoyed me about it was how it’s on Tack to initiate the big get-back-together. Vince is all ready to run off and sell the hotel and never fucking apologise. It’s Tack who starts it. It’s Tack who forgives Vince so easily.
And all throughout, Vince has still not really apologised.
I don’t know how much of the commentary on toxic masculinity was intended (probably only about half to two-thirds of what I took from it), but in the end, it turned out a very good one.
If only I hadn’t been so pissed off for the majority of it.