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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender, harsh, uplifting, a gem of a story!
Jan Iriving has given us one captivating, stirring and beautiful story in The Hired Man. All 4 characters shine, their interaction and story leaping from the pages and grabbing me from page 1, the reverend who has lost his faith, the young abused ex-convict, an old caring woman and one silent child.
The setting is a small rural town, where the voice of God rules and...
Published on October 11, 2009 by R.Parklane

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is the real ending
What a wonderful book until the end. It really doesn't end. Its like you read a story, build the characters, develop the plot and then you get ... This was either a bad compromise to shorten the book or I am not sure what. But to many questions go unanswered as suddenly this book just tuncates. I understand that given the setting developing a solid ending might have...
Published on November 1, 2011 by Amazon Customer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender, harsh, uplifting, a gem of a story!, October 11, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Hired Man (Paperback)
Jan Iriving has given us one captivating, stirring and beautiful story in The Hired Man. All 4 characters shine, their interaction and story leaping from the pages and grabbing me from page 1, the reverend who has lost his faith, the young abused ex-convict, an old caring woman and one silent child.
The setting is a small rural town, where the voice of God rules and it inhabitants could be as caring as they could be mean and unforgiving. Life has been cruel to both Ian and Bryn. In their hours of need and despair, these two tormented men somehow find each other, as their hearts call, hear and understand the other. But how could they ever hope to be together. Ian is the respected reverend, loved and held in high regard by his flock of sheep. All through his life he only does what is expected of him and haunted by his dead wife and child. By contrast Bryan is the wild one, abused through his young life, never hears a kind word and treated like dirt by the town which is all too willing to condemn him the second time. Their love seems doom right from the beginning, the obstacles in their path seem insurmountable. This story is filled with so much feelings. The writer expressing the two men's torment, despair, longing, anger, pain, hurt, vulnerability so well. And yet the story is filled with hope too as both men find the strength and courage to reach for what they want, as one child breaks free and one old woman finds it her mission to protect her little family from harm. This is one well written, unforgettable and expressive gem of a story. Love it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LaVyrle Spencer meets gay erotica, February 4, 2010
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This review is from: The Hired Man (Paperback)
If you've ever read LaVyrle Spencer historical romances, the western kind, then you've basically read this story. Tortured hero, after losing his family, is lost and withdrawn from the world while suffering a crisis of faith. Ever see Signs with Mel Gibson? Instead of a school marm or firebrand young lady from the East, the love interest is a quiet, submissive young man who has been falsely convicted of a terribly crime. There's some town prejudice, some secrets, some heartache.

The best part about the entire story is the sexual tension between the characters and the blossoming of the Hired Man into an adult who can stand up for what he wants.

Story pacing is good. I didn't feel tempted to skim. Sex scenes were well done; not overly explicit or overly flowery.

There are no surprises to this book, but it's a satisfying afternoon read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hired Man, October 9, 2009
This review is from: The Hired Man (Paperback)
The book, The Hired Man, by Jan Irving is a touching tale of two men trying to find themselves in a time and place that wouldn't seem to accept them for who they really are. The widowed Reverend Ian finds new life in comforting and caring for his new hired hand, Bryn, recently released from prison and having to return to a community that shunned him and a father who abused him.

Each man learns the inner secrets, and desires, of the other as they grow closer and their inevitable bond strengthens.

Despite the hurdles and burdens brought about by the era in which they live, Reverend Ian and Bryn try to find their way to contentment. It's a journey fraught with pain and sadness and seems unreachable.

This story was beautifully written. The characters come alive and their growth is consistent and logical. It was easy to get wrapped up in the story and be moved by Ian and Bryn's pain and share the joy of their victories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this one, November 10, 2010
This review is from: The Hired Man (Paperback)
Fiction is really subjective and it's hard to judge whether or not you'll like a book based on other people's reviews, but I for one really loved this one.

I bought the audio version of The Hired Man from Dreamspinner Press to take with me on a long drive. The first few chapters are slow going, but it feels right to have it that way. The relationship bewtween Ian and Bryn grows little by little each day because both are so broken, so hurt, that it takes them time to discover themselves, let alone each other. The pain that each has suffered is heartbreakingly real: Ian lost his wife and infant son to tragic death (I won't give away how) and Bryn suffers at the hands of not only an abusive father but a homophobic town.

There is genuine character development as Ian and Bryn discover themselves and each other in an enviroment that isn't tolerant of homosexuality--yet there are a few bright spots of tolerance, a few people who don't automatically condemn Ian when he confesses his attraction to his hired hand. With Ian's love and friendship, Bryn transforms from a frightened boy (he's 20-something, but still very boyish in the beginning) with no self esteem into an incredibly strong, gentle man. Ian grows in a wonderfully sweet and fumbling way from a sheltered preacher with very little sexual experience into a man who wants nothing more than to please his male lover. Ian's desire to please Bryn is nothing short of heartwarming--Bryn's willingness to sacrifice himself for Ian, while not always appreciated by the latter, was heartwrenching.

There were a couple of places where I had to stop the recording--I wanted to scream at the boys for being complete idiots!! (Which to me is always a sign of a good story.) There were other places where I wished I had thought to bring tissues along for the ride. I love angst in my fiction and The Hired Man delivered it up in spades. It also delivered up beautifully written steamy sex scenes... definitly not a book for people who don't like angst or guy on guy sex, but for those of us who do, this is absolutely a "must read." Also, there is a (pleasantly) surprising, albeit very gentle, D/s theme that runs through the book. Again, not for everyone, but for me, it was the icing on the cake.

I'm planning on buying a monograph copy of the book so I can have it on my shelf... it's really hard to go back and 're-read' favorite scenes when all you have is an audio recording (although I'll probably listen to it again, too. It'll be great company while I'm sewing.)

This is one book that I plan to read again and one that I would recommend to any of my friends who like angsty male/male erotic romance.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Traditional western 1898, December 13, 2014
This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
This is the first book by the author that I've read (November 2009). Son of town drunk/trash returns home after several years in prison for rape conviction to his still abusive father. He sought out the widowed reverend, someone he has admired & been attracted to for a long time, for a job on his farm. But he is afraid of his housekeeper.

Affinity to animals - horse (abused) & crippled hen/ first times/ shame/ secrets /fear of discovery /compromising /grippe /pneumonia epidemic sweeping towns /wanting to be wanted/ uses another as a cover-denial
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4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Feel Good Love Story, June 19, 2014
By 
Donnie Gentry (JUNCTION, TEXAS, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
This book was a good light read. It was predictable but was sweet and left you feeling a little lighter. You do not learn the meaning of life or anything useful but I enjoyed it. I would recommend this book for a lazy afternoon in the hammock, with a glass of sweet tea.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Decent historical, January 10, 2013
By 
octobercountry (the Land of Trees and Heroes) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
I haven't been reading many historicals lately, and hadn't realised how much I missed the genre until I came across this (it's set in 1898). I suppose in the end the historical really is my favourite genre of gay-themed novel, with fantasy coming in a very close second.

Oh, there's nothing too surprising here; the story progresses much as one would expect. But the plot features one of my favourite set-ups for this sort of book, where two rather damaged individuals (who have suffered some hard knocks from life) come together and experience a sort of emotional healing with one another. I enjoyed the story well enough---it was a pleasant diversion---and can recommend it for those who like historicals.

Though---now about that cover---heh, heh, heh... I can't help but think that it looks a bit goofy; it's very difficult to take a book seriously with artwork like that. On the other hand---this isn't a serious tome, is it---it's an unabashed romance. So, I don't know what I'm complaining about. It's just that a more polished cover would lend the tale a bit more credibility or something....
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where is the real ending, November 1, 2011
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This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
What a wonderful book until the end. It really doesn't end. Its like you read a story, build the characters, develop the plot and then you get ... This was either a bad compromise to shorten the book or I am not sure what. But to many questions go unanswered as suddenly this book just tuncates. I understand that given the setting developing a solid ending might have been difficult but still. Very unsatified and that is not my usual responce to a Jan Irving.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Welcome Emotional Rollercoaster Ride..., June 14, 2011
This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
I love a very thought out story. I especially love when a story is told so well that it makes me cry. Whether it was sympathy or empathy, I don't know. What I do know is if you like emotion with your drama, -and not just drama for dramas sake or a lack of interesting things to say- then you're gonna love this book.
Well written and truly believeable. Worth every penny and then some, to be read as many times has you tear ducts can take it. Brava to Jan Irving!
Happy reading.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but not great, February 17, 2010
This review is from: The Hired Man (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this story. The recreation of a time and place (the old west) was handled pretty well, and I felt the novel started off better than it ended. I like how the principal characters were drawn to each other due to pain and heartaches in their respective backstories. I also liked the housekeeper, Mrs. Robson, who seemed like a really good person.

Where the story started to fall apart for me is once the relationship begins. I guess I get a little tired of the whole "he loves me, he loves me not" dynamic that romance writers often use to carry a story forward once the main characters have gotten involved sexually. I feel that technique is overused here, with Ian and Bryn being so mercurial in their feelings for one another in their on-again/off-again (and again and again) relationship and (of course) not just talking to one another about how they really feel until the very end of the book. Gah. That always drives me crazy.

The "introduction of another woman" also felt very artificial and unnecessary here, a clunky attempt to "stir the pot" in order to keep the story moving (by making Bryn jealous). Sheesh. I also do not generally like "victim love affairs", like the one depicted here, with Bryn playing a needy, passive, submissive (read "victim") role in counterpoint to the vacillating and weak Ian (yet another "victim") -- not only romantically but in most every other respect. I like characters with backbone. Both Ian and Bryn are very needy, weak-willed, and indecisive people. There were times when I wanted to just clunk their heads together in complete frustration. I was actually hoping that, at one point, perhaps the housekeeper might serve this (badly needed) function to help them see what was so patently obvious to the reader. Oh well.

In short, "Hired Man" is not a bad book and you will probably enjoy it, but it was fairly standard fare, in my opinion.
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