Book Reviews

Away in a Manger by J.C. Owens at MLR Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Cowboys / Romance / Holiday
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 14-December-2018

Book Blurb

Two men from vastly different backgrounds; one city, one country. They have loved each other for over fifteen years, but the balance of their relationship has always been skewed, with Nathan desperately attempting to make Malcolm content on the ranch, when his restlessness and creative soul drives him to explore the world outside. After all this time, the differences were beginning to create a divide that seemed inevitable. Sometimes, love was not enough.


Then Malcolm's nephew goes missing and a storm brings Nathan to his knees...


Everything they have is suddenly on the brink of disaster.


It will take a Christmas miracle to show two men that everything they are, everything they need, is tied up in a love that deserves a second chance.


Book Review

In a story that starts with so much pain and fear of not being what each of them needs and deserves, the two very different men at its center go through a lot of suffering and uncertainty before they hit their stride. Nathan, abused and kicked out before returning to his family ranch once his father died, is bound to the land in a way he cannot explain. He fears tying down Malcolm will make him unhappy. Malcolm is from the city, loves to travel, and lives for new experiences. Yet he believes that he is “not enough” for Nathan. They have been together for fifteen years and love each other deeply, but neither really understands themselves nor the other. A Christmas miracle was pretty much the only thing I thought might help them see how right they are for each other.

Nathan loves the ranch, doesn’t really like people, and is a little afraid of the world – which is no wonder after what he has been through. He does everything he can to keep Malcolm happy on the ranch because he knows how much Malcom likes new experiences and adventures, yet Nathan could never leave. Nathan is beginning to despair and thinks Malcolm will leave anyway when disaster in the form of a snowstorm strikes.

Malcolm loves Nathan with all his heart, but his restless spirit keeps interfering. He has no idea what he is looking for or why the world “out there” draws him so much, and he wishes he could stop needing to explore. He can feel Nathan pull back to protect himself, and Malcolm hates it. That is when his nephew goes missing after being kicked out for being gay.

Between Nathan having disappeared into the storm and Malcolm’s nephew probably making his way to the ranch, Malcolm has his hands full! Suddenly his priorities are very clear, and dealing with the fallout makes both men realize that the love they share and the life they have built means more than either had admitted prior to a Christmas that almost became a catastrophe. It is quite a journey and I loved watching both men grow and change.

If you like character-based stories with lots of personal growth, if you think that sometimes you have to suffer before you appreciate what you have, and if you’re looking for a wonderful read that goes from depressing to a message of love and hope, then you will probably like this novella as much as I do. It’s intense and emotional and I found it very rewarding.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by MLR Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 63 pages/15000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 14-December-2018
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link