When Ray Sloane tires of the men in his usual club, he finds himself in the Pink Palm, an inauspiciously named spit-and-sawdust dive, not the sort of place an elementary school teacher and pastor’s assistant should be seen in. On the other hand, Ray needs a fresh face. But what he gets is a closeted, desperately unhappy divorcé named Zeke.
Losing his teaching job and his kids has left Zeke bitter and in denial about his sexuality, but Ray is determined to get under his skin. Just as Zeke starts to relax, life interferes with Ray’s plans: Lee, the teenage organist from St. Mark’s, tells his parents that he was abused as a teenager by a prominent congregation member from his old church, and Ray becomes the target of bullies at school and has to worry about his own job. With the specter of what happened to Zeke hanging over him, Ray must protect Lee and his own reputation, all while trying to convince Zeke that he doesn’t need to run away when their relationship grows more intense.
The third book in the Morning Report series centres around Ray who was on the periphery of the story in the last book as Noah’s assist. Ray is a teacher rather than a Ranch hand, moving the story away slightly. Feeling frustrated with life Ray tries a new bar and there meets Zeke. Zeke is a character that has been beaten down by life, so desperate at one point he tried to take his own life. Ray is drawn to him before he knows all this. Sue Brown has certainly held nothing back with this story. The hatred in the Town, well from a couple of influential sources, is building and from this we start to learn the route of it. I do like the way this theme has been developed over the last three books. A much more realistic timeframe than those where the hatred is over with quickly. Over the course of extreme situations where a young man is left fighting for his life after standing up for himself the Town starts to wake up to what is really happening. The two different strands, Zeke’s story and developing relationship with Ray and Ray’s support for Lee eager to find out what happens next.
Either by now I was used to Aaron Pickering’s narration or he has got into his stride with these stories. Much better and overall my preferred one narrated. Although Luke and Simon are still my favourite characters. There is a lot of emotions that Aaron’s narration does justice to. Zeke and Ray’s characters are portrayed very well.
4 of stars out of 5
Purchased by reviewer