REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: The Sheltering Sky by J.R. Lawrie

Publisher: Carnation Books
Cover Design: J.R. Lawrie
Length: 140,000 words approx.
The heart of Alastair Harding’s life is duty. Becoming the first gay chief of the Metropolitan police has required certain sacrifices, but Alastair made them willingly. If his life now lacks human connections, he can’t exactly complain—and it’s a little too late for regrets.

Jay Fieldhouse knows all about sacrifice, too. Brought to London for his own safety by witness protection, Jay’s grassroots charity works day and night to save vulnerable kids from a life of crime. But getting close to other people is tough when no one really knows who you are.

When he meets Alastair one night at a charity event, Jay is intrigued by his glimpse of a gentle soul beneath the commissioner’s uniform. The two men decide to run their lonely paths side by side for a while—after all, life is short and good sex is hard to come by.
Then the shadows of the past begin to stir, and the words which go unsaid might be Jay and Alastair’s undoing.

The Sheltering Tree is J.R. Lawrie’s first full length novel, following her beloved debut anthology, Let Your Heart Be Light.

My Review: The Sheltering Sky by J.R. Lawrie is a terrific book! It’s probably one of the most romantic books I’ve read in a very long time, it’s intriguing, there’s a fair bit of action and there were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming. This is my first dip into the world of J.R. Lawrie and I’ll definitely be back!

Alastair Harding is the first gay chief of the Metropolitan police. He has almost completely immersed himself in his work life. He has put everything he had to into his job and that has left him with a life that is satisfying but, perhaps, not quite as happy as it could be. His life changes when he attends “yet another” charity event and is intrigued by the young man who runs the benefiting organization.

Jay Fieldhouse is about as different from Alastair as another man could be. He’s clearly emerged from a tough youth, he’s candid, funny, and seems enamored with Alastair. They spend a night together and that’s the moment at which both of their lives begin to change. (Well, that and the moment that Alastair first sees the tattoos that adorn Jay’s body). Because both men have put their careers first, they both feel that seeing each other again would be a lovely way to spend an evening. And thus, it begins.

This is one of those reviews that I’m going to struggle with because there’s an entire plotline going on that I don’t want to spoil. It was really entertaining to read about Jay’s past and the road he’s been on as he has tried to put it behind him. Suffice to say, Jay and Alastair have been on opposite sides of the law for most of their lives.

When these two men get together, the uncertainty and blossoming emotion is absolutely delightful. I really enjoyed the switching POV as it allowed me to understand the way both men were growing closer to one another yet still trying to respect the original boundaries of their friendship. They are a perfect match from their first encounter. There is something in Jay’s personality that softens Alastair and allows him to be more relaxed and gentle. And for his part, Jay is intrigued by how buttoned-up Alastair is until they’re together. They seem to bring out the best in each other without even trying.

But there another story in this novel and it’s about the way our past can define us… and the way we can conquer it. There are things in Jay’s past that he has spent a long time guarding and his life depends upon staying out of the public eye. When his relationship edges towards being more serious, he’s faced with the question of timing: when do you tell someone that you are falling for them? When do you reveal your past?

There is a huge amount of delectable romance in this novel and it’s interspersed with some intrigue, a small amount of angst, and then some truly terrifying moments. Does that intrigue you? It should.

This is a well-thought-out romance with an engaging plot and two marvelous main characters. I would recommend this to readers of the genre with no hesitation! This is a fantastic debut novel! Looking forward to more.

Facts: MM romance, opposites, hurt/comfort, tons of romance

J. R. Lawrie graduated from the University of Leeds in 2011 and now lives in York, UK, writing LGBTQ fiction.

LET YOUR HEART BE LIGHT, J.R.’s debut anthology, was published by Carnation Books in 2019, followed by THE SHELTERING TREE in April 2021.
For more updates, you can follow J.R. on Twitter: @jrlawrieauthor

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