Review: The Sheltering Tree by J.R. Lawrie
The heart of Alastair Harding’s life is his duty. Becoming the first gay chief of the Metropolitan police has required certain sacrifices, but Alastair made them willingly. If his life now lacks human connections, he can’t exactly complain—and it’s a little too late for regrets.
Jay Fieldhouse knows all about sacrifice, too. Brought to London for his own safety by witness protection, Jay’s grassroots charity works day and night to save vulnerable kids from a life of crime. But getting close to other people is tough when no one really knows who you are.
When he meets Alastair one night at a charity event, Jay is intrigued by his glimpse of a gentle soul beneath the commissioner’s uniform. The two men decide to run their lonely paths side by side for a while—after all, life is short and good sex is hard to come by.
Then the shadows of the past begin to stir, and the words which go unsaid might be Jay and Alastair’s undoing.
The Sheltering Tree is J.R. Lawrie’s first full length novel, following her debut anthology, Let Your Heart Be Light.
SOME MINOR SPOILERS WILL PROBABLY BE DISCUSSED IN THE REVIEW.
I got this book on Kindle Unlimited
Dear J.R. Lawrie,
This book was recommended to me by one of the commenters at DA. I got it on Kindle Unlimited. Mystery suspense, police procedural plus m/m romance is normally very much my cup of tea, but a lot of this book unfortunately did not work for me.
For the first three or four chapters I really liked the writing, then we learned that one of the characters is actually in a witness protection program and some of his behavior just did not seem plausible to me. This is when the narrative jerked me out of it for the first time, but I eventually just readjusted my expectations and continued to read. After all both Alastair and Jay seemed sweet, likable characters. If one of them behaved not as smart as I hoped, it was not the end of the world.
Unfortunately, the suspense part of the story notwithstanding the development of the relationship also did not quite work for me. Basically the men start having sex very soon after they meet and that’s great, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t always go for erotic romance, but I can and I have like stories when the attraction grows from the strictly sexual one into something more. The problem for me was more that I did not *see* the growth. It seemed more that the characters felt in love almost right away but tried to convince themselves initially that all they wanted from each other was sex, but it just did not feel that way. The overwhelming sweetness was overwhelming for this reader almost from the very beginning and the worshipping of each other and worry that the other one will leave, etc, etc.
I hope I am making sense, but I felt as if the author tried to mask insta love and sell it to me as the relationship growth.
Also, I liked both characters, I did, but when a fifty year old man is asking his assistant what are the signs that a sexual relationship is changing to a more permanent one and she even suggests at least a few times how to answer the text messages, I am sorry, I get that we were supposed to see it as super adorable, but to me it made Alistair sound a bit infantile. I understand that he was very unexperienced where relationships were concerned, but at fifty surely he heard *other people* at least discussing their relationships? I don’t know, I surely don’t suggest he took relationship advice from romance books ;-), but surely he may have read something relationships related? He is fifty, not twenty, not even thirty.
The blurb remains quite vague about suspense storyline and maybe it is for the best.