Book Reviews

The Quality of Mercy (Bent Oak Saga 2) by Ari McKay at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Western / Cowboys / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 29-January-2018

Book Blurb

Gil Porter and Matt Grayson’s Bent Oak Ranch in Mercy, Texas, is a rare haven for gay men in the nineteenth century, and their friend Carlos Hernandez will need it when a man from his past unexpectedly comes back into his life.

Jules Wingate hopes to start over in Mercy as the schoolmaster after a scandal sent him and his son fleeing their former home. But he discovers he’s left one bad situation for another when he encounters his former student and lover, Carlos. No matter how Jules tries to resist, he yearns for the passionate connection they once shared… before Carlos broke his heart.

Carlos knows his foolish, immature actions hurt Jules, but he desperately wants a second chance and to show Jules he’s changed. But trust so badly broken is hard to repair. While he works to earn Jules’s forgiveness, someone else at the ranch has his sights set on Carlos—and he doesn’t care how many lives he has to ruin to make Carlos his and his alone.

Book Review

“If there is a single definition of healing it is to enter with mercy and awareness those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay.” ~ Stephen Levine (A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last)

Jules Wingate, of 'Quality of Mercy', and his stepson, Al, have moved to a town called Mercy where Jules is to be the new schoolmaster. While Jules is enjoying his welcoming reception, he runs into someone he thought he would never see again; Carlos Hernandez, his former student and lover. Jules swore that he would never forgive Carlos for being unfaithful; he is not happy to see him. Carlos is surprised and elated; he sees it as an opportunity to apologize and beg for forgiveness, but from Jules's reaction, Carlos knows that proving to Jules he's changed will be an unbelievable difficult undertaking.

Al is thrilled to move to Mercy, because it gives him the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a real cowboy. Al loves horses and is good with them. Gil, Carlos's boss, suggests that he may be able to work with Carlos who is in charge of maintaining and training the horses at Bent Oak Ranch. Al jumps at the chance and eagerly works to impress them so they will want to hire him. When they offer him a position, it only makes sense for him to live at the ranch instead of in the house provided by the town for him and his stepfather. Jules knows he will be lonely, but he realizes it is inevitable that Al will strike out on his own someday. He has raised him to be independent and has no intention of holding him back, even if it does mean he will be working with Carlos.

Soon after their arrival, there is a tragedy. The new school house catches on fire. Hoping to save a book, the only thing he kept that Carlos gave him, Jules runs into the burning building to retrieve it. Unfortunately, he gets trapped when the roof collapses and can't get out. With no thought for his own safety, Carlos runs in to rescue him and pulls him out. Jules is badly hurt, but he will survive. He's grateful to Carlos but still not ready to forgive him. Now, Jules is in a bad position because his recovery is going to be a long and difficult one. With Al living at the ranch now, there's no one to take care of him. The most reasonable thing to do is to have him stay in the foreman's house which is vacant. Reluctantly, he agrees. Carlos's boss suggests that Carlos move in with Jules in order to keep an eye on him and give the help Jules is bound to need. Jules is furious at first, but soon realizes that he desperately needs Carlos's help as well as Al's and gives in.

Over the course of Jules's illness, he can't help but be moved by Carlos's compassion and patience. Jules has to admit that he's not the twenty-year-old young man who carelessly broke his heart. Carlos tries as best he can to be the person Jules needs to share his life with, but Jules stubbornly holds on to his anger. When someone has been hurt the way Jules has, holding on to the anger is self-defeating. He comes to realize that if he doesn't forgive Carlos, he can never get beyond the rage inside that is keeping him miserable. Jules sees that if he ever wants to be in control of his own life, he must forgive Carlos and himself before that can happen.

In this story, Ari reminded me that mercy and forgiveness are qualities everyone should strive for. Forgiving oneself is as important as forgiving the person who has hurt you. Only then can true healing take place. Thanks, Ari, for the great love story and the reminder of the real purpose of forgiveness.





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

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 200 pages/59447 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 02-January-2018
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
Buy Link