You can never escape from yourself.
Zac McKenzie is an ex-professional footballer with a secret he gave up his career to protect. Several years ago, he fled to his home in the North East of Scotland to avoid being outed as gay. Now, he owns a successful hotel and restaurant, but is it time to finally come out into the open?
Seth Pritchard feels he is damaged goods. He comes to Scotland to escape memories of the accident that left him injured, his bullying step-brothers and a life of lies.
For their whole lives, Zac and Seth have denied who they truly are to themselves as well as to others. When they meet, each man is forced to confront his fears and tear them down one by one.
Reader advisory: Dubious consent. Recollections of physical abuse, emotional/mental abuse, torture and drug abuse. Profanity.
The premise of this story got me excited. However the story didn’t deliver the way I had hoped it would. Seth and Zac were fascinating characters with wonderful backstories. But they seemed a bit wooden. I would have liked being shown more emotion from them opposed to just saying what they felt. The feelings between Zac and Seth felt both rushed and a little forced. I had trouble believing their love for each other. They both had very different reasons to stay in the closet up until they met. However things just went away and magically better now they met and are ready to be with someone else. All of the hurdles in their past were swept away. Zac and his in the closet ex both just come out and everyone is positive and upbeat. Seth was hiding due to bullying from his stepbrothers and stepfather. But magically he’s not scared anymore and stands up to them. Seth gets counseling and is all better after an extremely short time. It all felt entirely too easy and too happy. It made me not believe any of it. I really wanted to like this story more but I just couldn’t get there.
Three and a half
“So what did you do before coming here, then?” Seth drank the excellent coffee and stretched his knee again to stop it from stiffening.
“I played professional football.”
“Oh, should I know you? I’ve always been more of a rugby fan, I’m afraid.” He scrutinized his landlord’s face. His stepbrothers would have had football on the TV twenty-four-seven, so he’d been exposed to lots of games over the years.
“I retired six years ago with a back injury, but I was captain of Scotland and Glasgow Rovers. I guess I was well known at the time.”
Realization hit Seth between the eyes. “Hang on a minute—Magic McKenzie, that’s you, isn’t it? Didn’t you score the winning goal for Trentino when they beat Manchester United in the Champions’ League?”
Zac’s cheeks flushed red and he grinned. “Yeah, that was me—stupid nickname.” Seth noticed the way the skin around Zac’s eyes crinkled when he smiled and, oh my, his smile lit up a room.
Zac rose from the sofa and picked up the plates. “I’d better be on my way before Mina sends out a search party. No doubt she has a few jobs for me to do before tonight’s service. We’re nearly full, but can fit you in if you want to eat with us, or I’ll get someone to bring something over for you until you get organized.”
“Is Mina your wife?” Fuck. Idiot, where did that question come from?
There was the smile again. “Mina, good God, no. She’d eat me alive and spit me out. No, her husband plays in goal for Inverness Cally Thistle. We met when we both played in Italy. No, me… I’m not the marrying kind, not anymore.”
Seth watched Zac close the door then leaned back in his chair. So much for coming to the back of beyond to escape his problems. It looked like he might simply have found a whole lot more.
Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions.
Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing.
She is currently owned by a mad cat and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.
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