The Release Series: Book One
They say a man can always come home. So after doing hard time, Sage Redding heads to his family’s northeast Texas ranch to help his ailing daddy with the cutting horses.
Adam (Win) Winchester is a county deputy and the cousin of one of the men killed in the incident that sent Sage to prison for almost a decade. While Win's uncles, Jim and Teddy, are determined to make Sage and the entire Redding family pay for their loss, Win just figures Sage has paid his dues and maybe needs a friend. Maybe he needs more than a friend. In fact, Win’s counting on it.
No one’s denying Sage is an ex-con who went to prison for manslaughter. Regardless of the love he has for his father, he’s returned knowing things will likely go badly for him. Maybe a man can always come home, but he may not be able to stay.
Sensual Reads Reviewers' Choice GLBT Award 2014
“SON, I need to talk to you.”
Sage sighed but kept it soft enough that no one could possibly hear. Momma didn’t call often—once a week—and she talked to him for exactly fifteen minutes. Hell, he wasn’t sure if the calls were habit for him or for her, but it was what it was, and it kept the costs on his pay-as-you-go phone low. If she called on a Saturday morning, when she knew he’d been working on the docks all night, it had to be important.
“Sure, Momma. What you need?”
He leaned back on his bed, looking out the little window. His eyes followed the hairline crack that climbed through the glass. Some days he thought maybe that weird, crookedy little line wanted to be a word or something. A picture. Not today. Today it was only a place for a tiny spider to climb. God, he was tired. The trucks had been filled with hundreds of small heavy boxes, and his muscles were screaming for rest. Not sleep, not yet. That wouldn’t come ’til eleven or so. It wasn’t like he came home and crashed once his feet found their way back through the mess in the streets and the little pockets of nighttime assholes on the corners, waiting for the bolder daytime assholes to spell them. This was his primetime, after all. He had a cup of coffee and a Louis L’Amour book he hadn’t read, which he’d found in a dumpster on his way to work a couple of days ago. It was all good.
“Are you listening to me, Sage Marlowe Redding?”
“What? Sorry, Momma. I must’ve dozed some. Long night. Say again?”
“I need you to come home.”
He sat up and frowned, his heart doing that sickening little hiccup and roll that meant something shitty was going down. “What happened?”
“Well, nothing that you’d think was an emergency, really. Your daddy, though, his hands…. He can’t work the horses as much.”
Sage closed his eyes. Fucking Parkinson’s. Daddy’d been fighting it for damn near eight years, but it was a losing battle. “Momma, I….”
“Son, that Teddy Dale, he’s going to take the land. You know he will. He’s waiting. I need you to cowboy up and come on. Now.”
“Teddy Dale’s the reason I ain’t come home, Momma. That man hates the sound of my name.” Not that Sage blamed the crusty old bastard. Angelo, the man’s only son and the apple of his momma’s eye, had died in Sage’s company ten years ago. Leastways that was the story and what was taken as God’s honest truth.
Ten years, ten months, fifteen days and… fourteen and a half hours ago.
“Well, we need to be able to train these horses. Your daddy has a contract. If he can fill it on time, we can pay for six months of bills. Sister’s took pregnant on me, Son. Her and that ass hat she’s married to caught like a pair of hounds.”
“I don’t even have a car, Momma, and I sure don’t have the cash to bus it right now. I get paid in two weeks.” A baby? Rosie? Christ, when had he gotten old? He looked at the calendar. “I can get on a Greyhound then, if I clear it with my parole officer.”
They had rules for men like him, and he followed them because he wasn’t going back in.
“I can wire you the money.” She sighed, lowering her voice. “It would kill your daddy to lose this place.”
“I know. I’ll come. I have to make arrangements, Momma. You know that.”
“I know that you paid your debt to society already, baby, for something that shouldn’t have all been on your shoulders.”
“I paid my stupid tax, for sure.” He smiled a little. “Let me see what my parole officer says, and I’ll call.”
“Okay. They… they’ll let you come home, right?”
“I’ll have to go in front of a judge. You know that.” It sucked, but it was what it was.
“I know, Son. Maybe you’ll get Judge Shannon. He’s not in anyone’s pocket, leastways in my memory.”
“Maybe. You’ll need to send me doctor’s information so I can start everything.”
“I can send it overnight unless you have one of those Kinko’s places. I can fax there.”
“I’ll have to call you, Momma. I don’t know. There should be a phone book down in the management office.”
“Okay. I-I’m sorry, Son.” He could hear the tears, right there in her throat. He hated for his momma to cry.
“Shit, what for? You didn’t make me a fuck-up, you didn’t make Daddy sick, and you didn’t make Rosemary decide to have children that her crazy fuck of a husband can’t feed. Seems to me like we should be apologizing to you.”
She sniffled, but the chuckle was just as strong now.
“I’ll call you with the Kinko’s number. Later. I got to work all weekend, but I’ll get in to see Jack on Monday.” If he could.
“Thanks, baby. I’m sorry. I know it’s borrowing more trouble for you, but I need your help.”
“I got your back, Momma. I won’t let you down.” The again was there, unsaid and implied.
“I love you, Son.”
“I love you, Momma. Talk to you later on.” He hung up and sat there, his head pounding, feeling swole as a rotting melon. Much as he hated California, he hated the thought of begging some Texas judge to let him come home even more.
God, what a mess.
“Damn you, Angel. You and me, we fucked everything up, and you had to up and die and get out of everything.”
Angel never answered back, which was good, since the man was dead. Would make it awkward if he hung around.
Sage chuckled, rubbed his forehead, and set his alarm. He’d get a couple of hours of sleep, then get to work.
He had a feeling he was fixin’ to have a lot to do.
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I ADORE Sage Redding. As his story unfolded over the course of the book, my heart broke for him time and time again and yes, I even cried once or twice. But the tragedies and injustices that Sage deals with makes the happiness he finds with Adam that much more poignant.
The Terms of Release opens with Sage getting a phone call from his momma asking him to come home to Texas because his father needs help on the ranch. We quickly learn that Sage’s reluctance to return to Texas has nothing to do with the parents he loves dearly or the ranch he grew up on, but rather the persecution he will face upon his arrival and it begins immediately upon him stepping off of the bus. Fortunately, Sage has a small but loving support system that has his back and after a brief encounter at the feedstore, he finds an ally in the last place he ever expected – among the family of the man he went to jail for supposedly murdering. Being ex-military, Adam understands that Sage faces a major adjustment when leaving a world in which you answer to someone else about every one of your actions and joining a world in which you don’t. What I really enjoyed about Adam’s behavior toward Sage was that as a police officer, he firmly believed that Sage had paid his debt to society and that he should be allowed to live his life without fear of reprisal from Adam’s Cousin Angel’s family. Even better was that Adam set out to befriend Sage regardless of what his family might say and when he discovered that he was attracted to Sage, he still didn’t let his family’s objections deter him. This turns out to be a really good thing because the relationship between the two is sweet, supportive, and HOT!!!
Ms. Tortuga does a wonderful job of infusing realistic situations into Sage’s plight, both good ones and bad. They not only served to enrich the story, but also gave readers a chance to take the measure of the man and understand that despite his time in prison, Sage is a good man with a good heart. In all actuality, once the details regarding Angel’s death were revealed, I wanted to throttle Angel’s self-righteous father. Talk about a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time! I found myself just as baffled as Adam with Sage’s seeming acceptance of how his life turned out, while at the same time admiring Sage’s ability to focus on the here and now instead of a past he could not change. Even though life isn’t fair (nor does he lament this fact), Sage discovers who the important people in his life are and who really cares about him when tragedy strikes. The Terms of Release was a wonderfully moving tale and I look forward to reading more of the Ms. Tortuga’s work.
I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
First time I’ve read this author’s work and I’ll be reading it again. Good writing, flow, characters and plot. Sex is within context and doesn’t overwhelm the story. This isn’t a glossy, sweet story; there’s sadness, pain, hope and joy – all of it comes at a price.
The only problem I had was that the end of the story was in contradiction to the purpose of the first part of the book; however, it was very realistic and really the only way it could end. I’m not going to explain that because it would be too much of a spoiler but when you read it, you’ll understand.
There’s an HEA but not quite like I expected. If you like cowboys and southern expressions, read this. It’s different but it’s a great read and I want more.
This is my first book by this author ... and it is a great book ... Good writing style ... full of feelings.
Sage Redding has to come back to his family’s Texas ranch to help his sick daddy with the horses. Sage is an ex-con who went to prison for manslaughter and the town is not so happy to have him back.
Adam (Win) Winchester, who is a county deputy and the cousin of one of the men killed in the incident that sent Sage to prison.
But Adam is determined to befriend Sage and protect his family. He along Wilma , the diner owner and her husband Bulldog , a biker and ex con ... are there for Sage's family.
Adam and Sage formed a relationship ... Adam is there for Sage when things are good and when Sage needs him the most.
They can finally after all , try to find happiness .. because Sage already paid his debt to society .. and they deserve good.
Once again I'm being given the opportunity to read an author who is new to me, and I'm very appreciative. One of the first things I noticed is that this author most definitely hails from Texas. The rhythm and flow of the dialogue is spot-on and that increased my pleasure in the reading. I'll be honest and admit the description captured my attention, mainly because I felt as if I could really see the true nature of Sage's character, just from that short blurb. I'm glad I took a chance on B.A. Tortuga and 'The Terms of Release'.
There have been times in my life where I wished I was born and raised in a small town, where everyone knew you. Unfortunately, that also means everyone knows every single thing you've ever said or done, and those people can hold some long grudges. Sage has come home to help with the ranch, two years after he was released from prison, as his parents are getting older and his daddy has Parkinson's. Sage spent eight years incarcerated for manslaughter. He was eighteen years old and the only survivor of a meth lab explosion, in California where he was living after he and his lover, Angel, ran away from home. The fact that Angel was the only son of the sheriff's brother and was killed in that fire didn't help Sage's chances of getting a reduced sentence. He's paid his debt and even though being home and having to listen to the constant vitriol spat in his direction is sheer misery, this ranch is in his blood and he'd do just about anything for his parents. Thank goodness there are a few people in town who don't hate and despise Sage or I'm not sure how he'd have not gone ballistic.
"Win found himself sitting back, listening, soaking it in. No one who heard this could believe that these people raised a killer, that Sage was trouble. The whole vendetta Win's family had against this man was so ridiculous it made him ashamed."
Win is a deputy sheriff and his uncle, Jim, is the sheriff. His other uncle, Teddy, is Angel's father. Win's uncles have a real hate-on for Sage, although it looks as though Teddy wants their family land, too. Win doesn't hold with their opinions as he knew his cousin, Angel, was gay and into a whole lot of stupid stuff. Sage didn't turn him queer or entice him onto the dark side. Angel wasn't as pure and perfect as his uncles would like to believe. So, Win sets out to be friends with Sage, to let him know that not everyone in town hates him. Of course, the fact that Win is attracted to Sage doesn't hurt his desires to get to know the man better. *grins* Falling in love with Sage while trying to protect him from the people out for revenge turns out to be a challenging job.
I really liked this book. It was so easy to love the man who Sage is, and to hurt for the pain he's suffered. Win got my respect and love immediately, just for being better than most of the redneck idiots in their small town. There are wonderful secondary characters like Sage's Momma, his daddy, his sister, and the biker gang leader, Bulldog, and his wife, Wilma. These people really brought even more to the story and helped to increase my enjoyment. I was happy to see Sage and Win fall in love, learn to trust, and deal with all the crap they had coming at them. A very good book that I can easily recommend.
NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
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