Thursday, March 17, 2016

Never Too Late by Sloan Johnson Blog Tour


Dax

My life ended six years ago. No, really. I was dead on the side of the road following a gruesome motorcycle accident. From what I've been told, it's only because of one stubborn man that I have another chance to make something of my life. I no longer hate him for screwing up what I thought I wanted. I want to thank him. NEED to tell him what his actions mean to me.

Now, I’m headed back to the town I’ve never set foot in even though it’s a huge part of my life. I’m not thrilled about that, but the job offers haven’t exactly been flowing in. They’ll probably think I’m crazy, because there’s no way I won’t be able to look at every guy I walk past, wondering if he’s the one who saved me.

Michael

My entire life, I wanted to save lives. I’d earned a full-ride scholarship and had been accepted to med schools across the country. I was so close to making those dreams a reality until the night I held a dying man in my arms. I’ve never been able to get the images of his lifeless body, caked in mud, out of my head. Even when the paramedics tried to take over saving him, I couldn’t let go. I never let go. Eventually, my guilt over not doing more cost me everything but my son. And now, I worry I’ll lose him if I don’t get it together.

I’ve often thought that if I could find him, maybe I could get some closure and finally get my life back on track. Now he’s here and I’m more of a mess than ever. Once the truth comes out, will he keep trying to save me or will he realize that it’s too late?

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆
This is a story that is more about telling us about what is happening in the characters' lives rather than telling us about the characters themselves. As a result, I didn't feel an emotional connection to what I was reading. But the story was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.

I enjoyed seeing Michael's struggles as a single parent and watching him deal with his growing feelings for Dax. Dax himself felt a little too perfect and like he only existed to further Michael's story. He got swallowed up.

Never Too Late was enjoyable, but I felt like something was missing.


Mary Jo☆☆☆
While I enjoyed this book, I felt as though something was missing. We had points of views from both Dax and Michael, but it still felt as though I was missing an important part of the story.

I loved the way the author very artfully wrote Michael, a single father, who, until he met Dax, never had feelings for another man, much less acted on them. Dax's insights into Michael's persona were authentic and true and their feelings for each other very real.

The drama with the maternal grandparents seemed a bit forced, but overall an enjoyable read.


Erica☆☆☆
3.5 Stars
I'm a sucker for a book with a little kid in it. My next favorite trope in the MM genre is gay-for-you. So with those two plot devices, Erica was a happy girl. As the cherry on top of the sundae, slow-burn romance instead of insta-love/lust.

Never Too Late was written in a steady pace with an easy to read writing style. Dual-narrated first person, there was no head-hopping due to the fact that each chapter was sub-headed by the narrator, and they never shared a chapter.

In the beginning I loved Dax's point of view. New to town, his impression of the town itself and its inhabitants was amusing (I'm from a small town), especially the first 3 impressions Michael made on him. Now, Michael on the other hand, he was a bit too defeatist for my tastes. Even after reading in his voice what his angsty reasons were, they still didn't jive with the level of self-deprecation the man was feeling. He could be downright nasty, especially to Dax who had no need to help and was only doing so out of the goodness of his own heart. Meanwhile, Dax, the man who had lived life on the edge, he had some reasons to be that way, and it was refreshing to see he wasn't.

Never Too Late was Michael's story, even if Dax narrated a little less than half. Michael's family, Michael's town, Michael's child, and Michael's issues. I would have liked a bit more of a balance, because like a lot of wives in life, they lose their personality when they become their husband's helpmate. Dax was neither a wife, nor a woman, and everyone, regardless of gender, should retain the core of who they are, no matter who they are coupled with.

Jagger, Michael's little rascal was an extra-special addition to the storyline. Michael was a loving dad, but one who had his hands tied behind his back (see my defeatist attitude comment above). As a Kindergarten teacher, Dax was a natural.

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained. Now, you're probably asking why I didn't 5 star Never Too Late, aren't you?

Around the 50 - 60% range, I could feel the story winding down, but knew there was most of the book left. But by then I was getting disinterested and anxious because I knew DRAMA was about to show up in town and infect the easy, enjoyable story I was gobbling up. I was right, and the drama felt forced and took the comfort read feel away from the story, driving it toward frustrating and drawn-out.

There were a few instances with timeline issues that had me clicking back a chapter or two, confused. 'Dates' were happening on specific days of the week, with plans made on specific nights. Yet the lack of communication between the pair was written as if it was a week or so, when on the timeline, it couldn't have been more than 12-24 hours, or specific events would have been passed by. I mean, next Saturday is always the NEXT Saturday, not two or three from then. Yet those dates and dinners were still in their assigned days in the same week, but it was written as if a long time had passed. Basically, I was thinking this, "Wait a minute. Didn't that happen on a Thursday, and today must be Friday. So how did days go past without communication when they had to have parted this morning. Especially when Saturday's date with the fam happened in the next scene? School day are only on weekdays."

I received an ARC, so I don't know if this was edited in the final publication, and it didn't affect my rating whatsoever. But there were several instances when the narration was mixed up. The chapter would be Dax or Michael, yet they were calling themselves in the third-person during dialogue/monologue as if the other narrator was speaking, and I had to click back to check out who was the narrator during that particular chapter. It was only for a sentence within a paragraph, but it was jarring. Basically, the author had the wrong name in the passage, confusing the reader.

Over all, I enjoyed the heck out of Never Too Late, confusing issues aside. I believe MM romance readers will adore Dax, Michael, and the naughty Jagger. I would most definitely read more by this author.


Shannan☆☆☆☆
Dax never wanted to come back to this town, but the job offer he received for his first teaching job was something he couldn't pass up. Coming back brought up all the memories of his old life. The life he had before the accident, an accident that was life changing.

Michael thought he had it all together, at least he was trying to get it all together. He was on the right path, going to school, working and trying to make it work with his wife, but life changed when he caused an accident on a back country road. After his wife dies unexpectedly, he's suddenly a single father fumbling through life, until he meets Dax. Dax is the first person he's let get close to him, he's pushed everyone else away.

Dax and Michael fall into a fast friendship. Dax helps with Jagger and points out when Michael needs to just be there for his son. Dax is instantly attracted to Michael but knows his feeling won't be reciprocated, Michael's straight. Or is he?

I enjoyed Never Too Late. It's a sweet read. Is it realistic that a straight widower would fall for the boy next door? I have no idea. It's fiction and I got lost in the world that Johnson created and that is enough for me. Michael was lost and fumbling through, Dax was enough to keep him grounded and it works. I look forward to more in this series.


Lee’Anne☆☆☆
This was an okay story but at times it was a bit unbelievable.

Michael is the father of young Jagger who is always running off. Dax is the new guy in town who seems to be the one always finding Jagger off on his own, making him question Michael’s ability as a father. Dax just moved to a small town where he’s starting his career as a kindergarten teacher. Dax’s attraction to Michael is immediate but he knows that nothing can ever happen since Michael is straight. (This is the part I struggled with, I just don’t see the entire “small” town being okay with a large gay man teaching Kindergarten and think that the story kind of glossed over that.) After Michael gets in a tough spot with childcare, Dax steps in and offers to keep Jagger, and Dax and Michael’s friendship grows. Then Michael realizes he’s starting to have feelings for Dax, which he wants to explore.

This was a good read, I found it very interesting. I just felt that the author glossed over a few things that needed to be gone into more. The plotline itself was great though, and I look forward to reading more from this author.


Angie☆☆☆
I wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. The blurb drew me in and I was so excited to read this book. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, just wasn’t as good as I was hoping. I wanted to see more chemistry and more heat between Dax and Michael, more passion. You could tell they liked each other and there was a spark, but once the spark lit it just fizzled out at times and the sex wasn’t very hot either. Things just seemed too easy, I mean Dax thought Michael was a bad dad and then was always watching Jagger. Jagger is a great part of the story and I think he added something. There just wasn’t the angst you thought there would be reading the blurb. A lot of it was from Michael’s point of view and I think at times we missed some stuff that was going on with Dax. What little drama there was, between Michael and his in-laws, was really nothing and seemed like filler. I didn’t hate the book but I didn’t love it like I wanted to but if there is a second book I will read it because I am curious about Justin.

Characters: Easy to relate to in certain instances
Sex: Not descriptive
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: Not sure, but I hope there is a second book about Justin
Genre: M/M Romance
Would I read more by this author: Yes


Angela☆☆☆☆
This is the first time the stars have aligned properly, allowing me the chance to read one of Johnson’s books when it came up for review. I usually keep my review schedule packed. I’m a book-a-day reader. But in order to keep from spreading myself too thin, I’ve pulled back a bit on my review schedule so that I had time built in for other book-related activities. Hi, my name is Angela and I am an addict. I’m addicted to books and Never Too Late proved to be an enjoyable way to feed my addiction, while giving me a chance to finally read an author I’ve had to miss out on repeatedly because of my schedule.

By opening the book with Dax’s memories and his return to the so-called scene of the crime, Johnson snagged my attention from the beginning. She finished reeling me in with his rescue of Jagger and stand-off with Michael. I was hooked. Growing up in small town America in the Southern Bible Belt, I had almost no difficulty in understanding the mindset that Michael grew up with and I could relate to his feelings of being suffocated by it. Because of this, I got where he was coming from, feeling overwhelmed as a single parent, feeling as though nothing he ever did was right, and feeling as though EVERYONE in town judged him for his parental deficits. So it made sense that when Dax offered him friendship without the judgements of his supposed past failures, that Michael clung to it like a drowning man, because that’s exactly what he was. Watching the men build a friendship over a matter of weeks was heartwarming because while Jagger may have been what brought them together, they both needed someone they could count on to have their back – and if Dax had to keep to himself that he wanted to have more than just Michael’s back, then so be it. However, as Dax spent more and more time with Michael and Jagger, it was Michael who found himself questioning his feelings for Dax, especially as he’d never felt an inkling of attraction for another man in his life. Even as Michael comes to terms with how he feels, he is faced with all of the “normal” relationship issues of a single father along with worrying if being in a relationship with another man was something he could do in Marshall, and if it was worth the risk.

When I began reading Never Too Late, I had no idea that it was a gay-for-you romance. I’m still relatively new to the genre, but I enjoyed this theme in the novel quite a bit. I cannot even begin to imagine the inner struggle someone would have to deal with to find themselves attracted to a person of the same sex when they’ve never had such feelings before. The relationship that forms between Dax and Jagger was heartwarming to watch and vital to the eventual relationship that developed between Michael and Dax. Not surprisingly, the sexy fun times between the men proved to be quite sexy and a lot of fun to read. I enjoyed watching Michael find himself again as he found the love and safety in Dax he didn’t realize he was missing. This included him reconnecting with Justin, who proved to be a much better friend (and alcohol beard) to both Michael and Dax than my first impression of him led me to believe he would be. There are several things within the storyline that make Never Too Late a heavy read in places, but Johnson does a nice job of inserting humor into various scenes when I needed it. Although there were a few times over the course of the novel that interactions between Michael and Dax felt more formal than the scene called for, I’m chalking that up to regional differences and a good dose of small town wariness. In the end, Never Too Late was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more of Johson’s writing.





Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

Connect with Sloan

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Never Too Late (Home in the Heartland #1) by Sloan Johnson to read and review for this tour.

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