“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~ Steve Maraboli
Cullen Bryant has been in love with Joseph Allenbrand for a long time. Cullen suffered through a lot for Joseph's safety, but he doesn't resent him for it. All he wants is for Joseph to let go of his guilt for not being able to protect Cullen and admit that, despite their age difference, his feelings for Cullen are just as strong as Cullen's are for him. Despite Cullen's best efforts, if anything, Joseph is pushing him even further away.
Cullen has changed a lot since he was sent to Cattle Valley where he could be safe. Cullen has become a strong, confident young man who is respected and appreciated by other Cattle Valley residents. He's put the past behind him, but he can't put his feelings for Joseph aside. It was his choice to stay on the streets to protect Joseph from his pimp and he's never regretted it. When he has an opportunity to see Joseph again, Joseph practically ignores him and when Cullen confronts him about his feelings, Joseph shoots him down telling him to move on. Cullen has no alternative but to try to do so. Fortunately he has a new project to keep him occupied. Due to his growing expertise at building and scheduling, Asa Montgomery has enlisted him to help build a new community similar to Cattle Valley in Lobster Cove, Maine. Cullen is awed by the opportunity and the faith Asa is putting in him and is determined to do the best job he can.
Joseph is a mess. He loves Cullen, but doesn't think he deserves to be with him after all the years he let Cullen sacrifice himself to keep Joseph safe. He regrets not being able to save him sooner and can't get beyond that guilt. Joseph knows how Cullen feels about him, which is one of the main reasons he sent Cullen away to live in Cattle Valley. Joseph wanted him to be safe, but he also wanted him gone so Joseph didn't have to be tempted. Even though Joseph tells Cullen to move on, he is upset when Cullen goes out with someone else. When a crisis occurs at the Washington DC shelter, Joseph is forced to move his charges to the new community starting up in Lobster Cove, Maine. Joseph knows Cullen is there and he has some big decisions to make before it's too late and he loses Cullen forever.
I have read and enjoyed all of the books in the Cattle Valley series, but I especially like the concept of Lobster Cove. It still boggles my mind that Asa can afford to buy an entire town! I'm looking forward to reading about its development and meeting the new characters who will surely be coming and, hopefully, visiting with some of the Cattle Valley folks as well. Thank you, Carol, for what promises to be a great new slant on the Cattle Valley series.