Title: Bending the Iron by Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 40,000 words
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Michael feels trapped. In his conservative, poor hometown where he has to keep his sexuality hidden. In his dead-end job. In caring for his alcoholic grandfather. Everything changes when he meets Eric, the new curator for the railroad museum. His curiosity about the passionate man quickly gives way to an intense attraction–one that Eric happily returns.
Carefree and refreshingly confident, Eric guides Michael to places he’s forgotten, reminding him that it may not be too late to follow his dreams for something more in life. But the truth is, Eric knows exactly how it feels to be stuck in a bad situation. A failed relationship has left him with personal demons that may hurt his connection with Michael.
To give their future a chance, they both must fight being trapped in the past.
Bending the Iron by Libby Drew is a sweetly romantic yet sensual novella about following your dreams even though they seem tantalizingly out of reach. Firmly grounded in reality, the setting and unique occupations of the main protagonists, make this a standout read in the m/m genre.
Michael’s situation is not unique in today’s world and it is very easy to relate to him. Stuck in a small, dying town, working a dead end blue collar job and caring for his alcoholic grandfather, Pete, Michael’s dreams of a career in architecture have fallen by the wayside. Michael does not resent helping his grandfather, but he sees no way out of his current life. A chance meeting with Eric becomes the catalyst for both Michael and Pete to make some much needed changes in their day to day lives.
Michael and Eric are well-rounded and three-dimensional characters. Their relationship begins with an intense attraction that they are quick to act on, but there is also an emotional connection between them as well. While Eric is the more upbeat and positive of the two, he does have emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Eric has plenty of confidence, but he is a bit hesitant when it comes to his and Michael’s relationship. As the two men grow closer, Eric sees the potential in Michael and he gently encourages him to go after his dreams.
Never bleak or depressing, Libby Drew paints a vivid picture of life in small town America. It is a gritty and accurate portrayal of the hopelessness that Michael feels about his financial and family situation. But it is also quite hopeful as Michael and Eric find love and Pete rediscovers his self-worth as he aids Eric in the train museum renovation.
A beautiful story of second chances, Bending the Iron is an emotionally gratifying romance that I highly recommend.