William Lyon's past forced him to become someone he isn't. Conflicted and unable to maintain the charade, he separates from his wife and takes a job as caretaker at a former mental hospital. Jelley's Valley State Insane Asylum was the largest mental hospital in California for well over a century, but it now stands empty. William thinks the decrepit institution is the perfect place to finish his dissertation and wait for his divorce to become final. In town, William meets Colby Anderson, who minds the local store and post office. Unlike William, Colby is cute, upbeat, and flamboyantly out. Although initially put off by Colby's mannerisms, William comes to value their new friendship, and even accepts Colby's offer to ease him into the world of gay sex.
William's self-image begins to change when he discovers a tin box, hidden in an asylum wall since the 1940s. It contains letters secretly written by Bill, a patient who was sent to the asylum for being homosexual. The letters hit close to home, and William comes to care about Bill and his fate. With Colby's help, he hopes the words written 70 years ago will give him courage to be his true self.
©2013 Kim Fielding (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
It's a sweet story and has a couple of enjoyable parts but overall it would have liked it better with either a bit more angst or at least some more hot sex. There was nothing in the story that would make me read it again and again like I do with my favorite gay romances.
A poignantly told story blending the past atrocities perpetrated to "cure" homosexuality with a modern romance. Such a tale could have been gruesome but Kim created a wonderful, awful way of highlighting our less than savory past, while telling a sweet love story.
"Much more than a romance. A must read."
There are many layers to this story. The almost delicate way that it is told makes it that much more powerful. Sometimes a simply told and not overly embellished story can really make you think.
"You have to buy this!"
I buy 3-4 books a week on Audible but I have never written a review until now. Both the story and narration were so moving. This book just hit me right in the heart! Buy it!
"Amazing! Heartbreaking but hopeful"
The performance of this is so good that I would say he adds something above what you can get from just reading it.
I think he does Colby the best. Colby is such an animated character, and he captures the emotional range really well.
I definitely cried in this book.
It's been a long time since I've encountered such a beautiful and inspiring book. I wish there were more stars to give. I've read Kim Fielding before and enjoyed it, but this gives me a whole new appreciation for her writing.
This story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. It's a story of injustice and cruelty, but it's also about personal growth, identity, compassion, and love.
The story is immediately engaging. The characters are very real and relatable. It was such a pleasure getting to know William, Colby and Bill. The reading by K.C. Kelly is great, and the voices suit the characters perfectly.
All in all I highly recommend this book, especially for those with an interest in LGBTQ social and historical issues. And don't forget the tissues!
*I received a free copy of this audiobook to read for Inked Rainbow Reads in exchange for an honest review.*
"Sad, romantic, thought provoking, m/m story."
Yes, I loved it. I first read this book a couple of years ago. I love all of Kim Fieldings contemporary m/m romances. But this one is a stand out for me. I really enjoyed Will and Colby's tale, but I think the most impact for me was because of the secondary story of Bill, who we get to know through his letters, was so sadly and gently presented, that I actually teared up at the conclusion of his part of the story, and the entire story lingered with me for awhile. For me this is a sign of a well loved story.
I liked every thing about this, I am a sucker for "insane asylum" stories. I find them fascinating. M/m contempory romance is a favored genre and I just enjoyed both of these characters and whenever I can like and root for both protaganists in a romance, its a win/win for me. I liked Will's journey to becoming his "authentic" self, and I loved the sweet, caring, tender person that Colby was. And I loved and cried over the secondary story of Bill.
My first time to listen to this narrator and thought he did a great job. I will admit, the first several minutes of listening to Colby's voice, I wasn't sure, it felt like he was going to be featured as a lisping, flaming, feminine charicature, but no, that did not happen and his voice turned out to be perfect to his description.
Colby in the main story is sweet, kind and memorable with a great personality. And the sad poignant tale of Bill was told so well, with such tender, horrifying dignity, that my heart ached for him.
Recommend this book to all who like the m/m romance genre.
"Heart wrenching LOVE story"
Amazing!! Listening to this story so full of angst had me crying off and on throughout the whole. Colby really made the story happy for me with his vibrant personality.
There are not words to express much this story touched my heart and soul. The book was exceptionally written and the narration was exquisite.
I read this book when it was first published and loved it.. But listening to the audio made it so much better.. I think K C kelly was the best narrator for this story. He bought the story more to life I don't know how he read it with out crying his voice's bought so much emotion when reading I never cried so much when listening to a book. It was a while ago when I read this book but I don't remember ever shedding a tear so that's why I say the narrator really gives this book it's five star. Don't get me wrong the story line is fantastic the author really did her homework awesome job you will not regret the credit or dollars you spend..
"Sometimes a hard story, but wonderful"
Kim Fielding is an amazing writer, who has a way of combining dark, angsty topics with humor and sweet romance. I guess you’d say this is the “perfect” example of that.
We get the dark, very hard to read at times story of Bill – a patient in an asylum for being homosexual and what he experiences.
Then we get William and Colby’s modern day story, far more light-hearted and hopeful. William learns from “Bill” and finally finds the courage to be the man he wants to become.
“…You said gay people—any people—should be who they really are. Be authentic. You said I should wear a pink tutu and vote Republican if that’s what I wanted. Well, I’ll pass on that part. But Colby, this is me. I’m not a man who sleeps around, always wondering if the ass is greener on the other side of the fence. I’m not someone who wants to meet tons of men in clubs or online. Those things don’t suit me any better than [wearing your clothes].”
Such a delightful mix of tragic and happy. Well done, Kim Fielding, well done.
KC Kelly does an absolutely amazing job with this! God! I loved his “Colby” and how well he handles the emotion and the smexy times.
I absolutely recommend his narration as a way to experience this novel.
What a wonderful story and so well portrayed. I too have fallen in love with Colby, really who couldn't? Would love a continuation of this story.
"Absolutely amazing, both story and narration....."
I would have to say that both this and Brute (yet to start Rattlesnake) are in my top 5 audio books. The Tin Box probably ranks no. 1. Full of emotion, and when William reads Billy's letters to his lover, I bawled...and you could hear the narrator's quavering voice too. Kc was definitely affected by the sadness of the letters content.
I loved Colby.
Oh yes, I've listened to several of Kc's narrations...especially The Knight of Laguna Avenue by Tara Lain, which is another brilliant characterisation.
It was, but it was impossible. I needed a break from the overwhelming emotions this story conveys.
A beautiful, beautiful story. You'd be mad to miss it....and be prepared to have tissues handy, you'll need them unless you've got a heart made of stone.
"Wow! Such a beautiful, moving story."
Wow! Such a beautiful, moving story. Perfectly narrated by K.C. Kelly.
My heart goes out to Bill and Johnny and all those who have suffered in such an appalling way.
I'm so glad Will and Corey found each other.
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