Authors: Elsa Winters and Brad Vance
Genre: Gay romance
Page count: 183
Publisher: Pub Yourself Press
"I’m your friend, Andrew. I think I’m the only friend you’ve got."
Nick Carpenter grew up in the foster system after watching his parents die in a car crash. Now, he's finally found a place for himself as an EMT. Partnered with a gruff but very competent paramedic as his first assignment in Seattle, he figures that it's best to keep this working relationship strictly professional, even if Andrew is hot as hell.
"You let the patient talk, Nick, because sooner or later they’ll probably tell you what you need to know."
Andrew Hazard loves his job, even if he gets paired with a different EMT every couple weeks. Once an EMT proves himself incompetent, Andrew makes no effort to be friends with them. That's why it's such a relief when Nick comes along. He keeps the ambulance stocked, he can drive well, and he knows how to start an IV. He's great at saving lives, and also a great person to hang out with. From hiking to movies, they find themselves spending a lot of time with each other. Nick's homosexuality definitely isn't a problem, even though Andrew's girlfriend jokes that he wants to spend more time with Nick than with her.
"You wanna go on an adventure?"
When Andrew gets the chance of a lifetime - going to the prestigious UCLA Medical School - his girlfriend doesn't share his enthusiasm. And so, freshly broken up, Andrew asks Nick to go with him on a road trip down south to check out the area. Nick wants to keep him as his best friend, even though his romantic feelings have reached a fever pitch. But he also realizes that this could be his last chance to let Andrew know how he feels. Will Andrew let Nick into his heart, or will this road trip be their last hurrah?
The Seattle Fire Department has the dubious distinction of testing a pilot program with the potential to cost paramedic jobs. Nick Carpenter is the overachiever EMT with a lot to prove, a mediator by nature. The new program puts Nick in the hot seat, the eighth candidate in a line of EMT tryouts that failed epically. Andrew Hazard is the paramedic culler of the herd and the complete alpha package. It’s not exactly a match made in heaven.
The introductory scenes flip from flashback to current day, and along the way there’s brute force interweaving of rescue response scenes, glimpses of life lived waiting for the next explosive crisis, and the interaction between Nick and Andrew that’s both confrontational and subtle, with a subtext of growing respect, understanding, and a unique blend of slow burn attraction and starry-eyed infatuation.
Unfortunately, with the frenetic scene jumping, there’s a chance readers might need to reread the first two chapters in order to fully appreciate how the groundwork was laid out for the rest of the story. However, once the authors adopt a more linear storytelling style, things move along very well indeed. At that point The Road Home is very much a character driven tale of coming to terms with the past and following a path to the future congruent with each character’s history and motivations.
Although the plot seems somewhat light on conflict, this is a tale of discovery rather than a tiresome rehash of the usual trope of “come together, roadblocks, more roadblocks, way too many roadblocks, then instant resolution.” The denouement was quite satisfying, albeit a hair on the convenient side, stretching my suspension of disbelief but not breaking it.
There’s considerable humor and a sense of authenticity—the authors did their homework but never bashed the reader over the head with unnecessary details. And despite the slight choppiest of the first two chapters, I found little to criticize about how well the authors’ styles meshed.
The writing is good, the first person POV competently handled, and each scene builds on the previous to provide a page-turning narrative flow.
So… here’s the bottom line: I liked The Road Home, a lot.