Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: Button Down by Dawn Kimberly Johnson

Reviewed by Whuppsy
Button Down by Dawn Kimberly Johnson
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 230pgs
4.5 Pants Off

When he finds himself captivated by a movie-star handsome stranger he meets in a bar, lawyer Ford Reilly watches a simple one-night stand develop into a taste of what living honestly might bring him.

Out and proud Gus Hansen has built a small architectural firm from nothing, but could lose it all as he tries to break a contract he signed before knowing about the project’s antigay ties.

After Ford discovers he spent a passionate night with the man on the other side of the dispute he’s handling, he finds himself in more than one quandary. He can either maintain the status quo, enforcing the contract to the letter, or he can defy his overbearing father and break free of the closeted life he's built for himself in order to be with Gus.

Gus has his own choices to make. He knows the sting of loving a man who hides himself, but the longer he lingers in Ford's presence, the more difficult it becomes to deny their attraction.

This story is about Redford “Ford” Reilly and Gus Hansen. Ford Reilly is a cute African American who lives in a small town in Georgia. He’s works for his father as a lawyer. His Father is a Big Man in the town of Timothy, GA. He’s the Mayor and a Minister. Ford has always felt 2nd best to his older brother, Royce, the Heir Apparent. He hides himself so deeply in the closest that the only person who knows about him is best friend from grade school and Royce’s fiancĂ©e, Cicely.

Gus Hansen is the wonderful guy who has started his own design firm and is finally getting some recognition for his work. He was asked to design the community center in Timothy and he jumps at the chance. He’d signed the contract only to find out that this hate group Family Strong had put in money for the community center project. Gus is a very Out and Proud Gay Man who has marched and volunteered his time for the GLBT community. To find out that the new project that he bid and won his being helped that that group has him trying to break his contract.

The story really picks up from when Gus and Ford meet. Gus is at the bar with his friend and lawyer, Lin and his wife, Grace. He is talking to this guy at the bar, when Ford stumbles into Gus and his evening’s paramour, Kenneth. Kenneth gets angry and starts using some colorful language and almost assaults Ford. Ford and Gus end up spending the night together and make plans to see each other the next day. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen when Gus’ ex, Taylor shows up at his house and ruins the wonderful high that Gus was riding about meeting someone new. Ford learns that the wonderful man that he’s spent the night with is the very same guy that he was coming to talk to.

The meat of the story starts after the night together and Gus comes to Timothy to give his plans and wash his hands of the project and he meets up with Ford and his family. You get to see Ford on his home turf and what he’s like. You learn more about Gus in this timeframe as well. You get his back-story and boy it was sad. I hurt for him. But he has come so far from where he started and that gave me such a great feeling in my chest.

Now, I’ll say that this was actually a really cute story. It’s about finally coming clean to not only to your family, but to yourself as well. To realize that in order to find happiness, you have to be honest with those around you, but most importantly, yourself. Ford learns this lesson throughout this book. Gus learned that family sometimes can and do stick with you after you come out.

There were so many wonderful secondary characters in this book. I loved Lin and Cicely. They were the voice of reason when it was needed and provided love and support when that was needed. I loved Ford’s Momma and his Gran. They were a hoot and a half. They came with love and understanding. But I will say that Royce became my favorite secondary character. His love for his brother was without compare. He would and did ANYTHING for Ford. He had his back all of his life and will continue to do so. There was nothing but absolute Love between the Reilly brothers and that was shown throughout the book.

Overall, this is a pretty great read. I loved how these two guys both had to face some issues that were keeping them from forming any lasting relationships. I liked how the secondary characters surrounded our MC’s with love and understanding and still gave them honesty and hard truths when needed. I liked how not everything became perfect at the end. It was just like life. Not all good and not all bad. But with love and support, you can have the life that you want and need.

The author did a great job of a portraying the Southern, small town with its tight-knit sense of community. I loved the fact that this was in interracial couple and yet that didn’t even really play a part of this story. I really liked how the story flowed smoothly. You never were taken out of the story. You were along for the ride and it was a good one. This story is a great read on a lazy Saturday or Sunday.

4.5 Pants Off

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