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.
Carlos Hernandez has found a place where he belongs at Bent Oak Ranch run by Gil Porter and Matt Grayson. A place where men like him can feel safe. Jules Wingate and his son have arrived in Mercy, Texas ready to take up his position as the new schoolmaster but when he sees Carlos, a man who broke his heart years ago, will he be able to do his job and keep his heart intact? Can Carlos prove to Jules that he is a changed man, that the boy who broke Jules heart has grown up? Trust once broken is hard to recover, will they be able to make a life at the Bent Oak Ranch or has their time come and gone?
I loved Finding Forgiveness, book one in Ari McKay's Bent Oak Saga so when I heard there was going to be another one I was really looking forward to The Quality of Mercy. Well, I was not disappointed. Did Carlos and Jules reach my heart as thoroughly as Gil and Matt? No but that doesn't mean I didn't love them because I did. Carlos and Jules have their own set of demons to overcome and watching their journey unfold is a bit of beautiful storytelling. From the ranch to the town, the settings are wonderfully written, at times I expected to look out my backyard window to see the Texas landscape of 1890 instead of the endless snow drifts of a 2018 Wisconsin winter.
My heart went out to both Carlos and Jules in this lovely second chance romance, you can't help but want to see a HEA for these men, but will it be with each other? Well, I think you know what I'm about to say: for that answer you have to read The Quality of Mercy for yourself but you won't regret the journey. Do you have to read Finding Forgiveness first? Probably not. Would I recommend reading Forgiveness first? Yes. Does Gil and Matt's story have an impact on Quality? Again, probably not. It's just a personal preference of mine to read a series in order, even when each entry focuses on a different couple. I find knowing the journey secondary characters who were main characters in previous installments, took to get their own HEA just makes the story flow better and the friendships understandable and more appreciated. I would not go so far as to say that The Quality of Mercy is a standalone but neither would you be lost if you haven't read Finding Forgiveness first. A true gem to make you smile and warm the heart.
Boston in 1888 is quite urbane, but unfortunately for Gil Porter, that isn’t the same thing as being understanding. When his sexuality is exposed by the scandalous suicide of his lover, Gil is exiled to the small town of Mercy, Texas, by his domineering father, George, who believes life on Vernon Porter's ranch will cure Gil of his “unnatural” desires. Grieving and ashamed, Gil is determined to keep his distance from everyone until he can return home. To his surprise, he finds acceptance at Bent Oak Ranch, especially from Matt Grayson, the handsome son of the ranch foreman. Knowing he must fight his attraction to Matt, Gil courts a local girl, but an unexpected encounter with Matt leads to his discovery of Matt’s feelings for him. Torn between Matt and his desire to be “normal," between returning to his old life and building a new one in Texas, Gil is faced with a choice—appeasing his father or becoming the man Matt knows he can be.
Original Review September 2015:
I love discovering a new author, or at least new to me. Ari McKay's knack with historical romance is obvious with their detail to accuracy. Gil is definitely a fish out of water when he's been banished to his Uncle's Texas ranch, couldn't be further from Boston if they had sent him to Timbuktu. Watching him discover his true path in life as well as finding a new family is entertaining, at times heartbreaking but also very heartwarming. Gil has a lot to learn but with unexplained acceptance from his uncle and immediate friendship from Matt, he learns the way of the ranch quickly, unfortunately he doesn't learn the way of his heart quite so easily. A great addition to my historical western romance collection and a definite plus for cowboy lovers.
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.
Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
The Quality of Mercy #2
Finding Forgiveness #1