Nobody's Home by Dev Bentham

8197EPm1-sL._SL1500_Title: Nobody’s Home

Series:   N/A

Author: Dev Bentham

Genre: Contemporary

Length:  Novel (160 pages)

Publisher: Amber Quill Press (December 10th, 2013)

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 (Tender, Loving, Wonderful) Hearts

Reviewer: Eli/Mandingo

Blurb:  You can’t go home again—that was Nick’s motto for the past twenty years. He was a teenager when he and his mom left his mentally ill and abusive father back in Lacland, a small town in the north woods of Wisconsin. Since those horrible days, Nick’s made a life for himself as an artist in New York, and has a new show scheduled in nine months. He should be in a painting frenzy, but so far, he’s hanging empty canvas. Then comes the call—his estranged father has killed himself. Nick flies to Lacland, to a house crumbling from years of neglect and one very fat bulldog.

Jonas doesn’t love his job as a research lab veterinarian, although he enjoys volunteering on his boyfriend’s canine behavioral studies. But when he discovers his so-called life partner is messing around, Jonas leaps at a job offer in a small town miles away.

Despite the grief swirling around Nick and Jonas, their first meeting is electric. But Nick’s in town for only a short time, while Jonas is still stinging from the recent betrayal. The men try to keep their distance, but that’s easier said than done, especially in a small town where misery and hope share the same address…

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Review: The m/m genre is littered with many books about hot men and fluff, and I love those as much as anyone else does.  BUT, every now and again, there is a book that simply stands out from the rest. Nobody’s Home is one of those books.  It’s not just a story, it’s a novel.  Everything that is right about a story is achieved in this book.  The author spends the first quarter of the book simply exploring the lives and characters of Nick and Jonas.  We get to know these men before they ever meet. By the time they meet, the reader is now thoroughly invested in these two men finding each other, because we know, like and understand these men.

The relationship between the two men is so much more than simply hot sex, which let’s be honest, they do have.  For Nick who’s lost his father and is feeling professionally adrift, the friendship he develops with Jonas provides him with an anchor and the realization that his life is rife with possibilities, if he’s willing to be open to them.  There is a subtle strength to Nick that is not first apparent because he’s struggling with his grief and personal angst.  For Jonas who’s questioning his worth as a man and a life partner, Nick provides him with much-needed honesty, validation of his worth and proof that he is a valuable person who is worthy of both love and friendship.

The story is beautifully written and elegantly told. What starts out as a character sketch of two imperfect men then becomes a dance of friendship and then the slow trek towards love. There is a slow build, which is sexy and seductive in its own way. The reader is moved seamlessly along the journey and because they are so intimately knowledgeable about these men, the reader shares in their joy, sadness, disappointment and even their fear. The reader has a bird’s eye view of the very real struggle both men must go through with their own personal demons if they are to create a life together. 

Readers will fall in love with Nick.  Like a good artist, he is willing to lay his feelings bare and it is this vulnerability that will win him the love of Jonas, a man who fears any further pain and rejection in his life.

The end of the book is sublime and I’m sure many readers may find themselves wiping away a tear. It was sweet and very tender.  Every page of this story is a revelation and it’s one of those stories that the reader will revisit time and time again.