Luke Lafontaine survived the past year by not thinking about the father he lost, the dairy farm he couldn’t save from bankruptcy, or his way of life that vanished with the rap of an auctioneer’s hammer. Cleaning up city folks’ trash at the Minnesota State Fair is just another dead-end job. But at the Fair, surrounded by a celebration of farm life, ambitions he’d given up on and buried deep start to revive. And seeing Mason Bell in the parade—gorgeous, gay, out-of-his-league Mason—stirs other buried dreams.
Mason left his hometown for college in Minneapolis without looking back. Student life is fun, classes are great, gay guys are easy to find, but it’s all a bit superficial. He’s at the State Fair parade route with his band when he realizes a scruffy maintenance worker is Luke, his secret high school crush. Luke should be safely home working on his dad’s farm, not picking up litter. Mason wishes he hadn’t fallen out of touch. He’s an optimist, though, and it’s never too late for second chances. Now he just has to convince Luke.
Luke has gone through a lot, losing his father, his farm and home, and only narrowly escaping a life on the streets. He’s lost hope and I felt quite sad for him. All that loss really impacted him and continues to define him throughout the story. It’s more than a simple background story for the cliché “tormented hero”.
Luckily this is fiction, and Kaje Harper managed to give Luke a way to turn his life around with a little help from his former high school crush, Mason. Although reality intrudes when we are shown that Luke’s farm was no exception and that other dairy farms also struggle to survive, with no miracle to fix their issues.
Luke is physically more imposing than the smaller and more studious Mason, but their relationship doesn’t conform to stereotypes, which I loved! Luke looks to Mason for guidance and help to discover new things, like say make-up. The issue of what it means to be a real “man” is touched upon and handled in the best way. I really liked Luke and Mason as a couple, they are a great fit.
This story has an very realistic feel to it, with a “true story” kind of vibe running through it thanks to the incredibly authentic (not always likable) secondary characters and real life issues that crop up. Even the happy for now ending adds to that feeling.
Number of stars out of 5: 3.5