A Second Harvest by Eli Easton (2016). A review by John Cook

A Second Harvest

The blurb had me interested in this book as it is set in a largely Mennonite/Amish community. Like most I have a degree of familiarity with this Anabaptist line of Christianity which manifests in a variety of forms ranging from fairly conventional fundamentalism to (very) determined separatism. I also had a work acquaintance from the part of the US where we usually associate with these sects (they do live elsewhere though, especially Canada in the case of the Mennonites) and he spoke of living with such communities. I also treasure my copy of the Mennonite piano concerto by Victor Davies which I regularly enjoy.

Much of the novel is a fairly convention tale – another May/December – Daddy/Boy scenario. The interest has to lie in what brings together the unlikely pair (David the older mixed dairy farmer and the ‘fierce’? party boy Christie. This is handled reasonably with David somewhat isolated and searching and Christie somewhat traumatised and redirected by an inheritance to the Lancaster county location. I cannot say the same thing for some of the plot devices which practically scream what their relevance might be – the collection of National Geographics and that jammed drawer!

It is clear what is going to happen and where the emotional hotspots are going to be – the gradual emergence of feelings and their ultimate outcome in sex and a loving relationship in a new environment (the sex is well done by this prolific female author of gay romance). There will be conflict with the local religious and general community (‘that talk’ and a bashing) and family (a daughter who is growing more outside the community and a son who is digging himself deep into the confines of fundamentalist Christianity) and it all eventuates.

The thing I found a bit out of balance was the heavy emphasis on the cooking and all those meals. While I enjoyed (vicariously) hearing about all that food (and food is the fuel of love) it seemed a bit too much and didn’t always square with this fierce party boy who just happened to have a relevant background and those recipes of dear old Aunty.

I feel that we got too much of some things in the novel and not enough of others. I am sure that the calving experience was great for bonding (and came from the immediate background and daily life of the author who lives in rural Pennsylvania) but I felt that I really wanted more from the interior of both characters. They were a little thin though not so much as the cardboard cut-out wannabe wife and Minister in training son.

Enough carping. For a basic gay romance, it is quite competently done and certainly an enjoyable read – I did like the sex.

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