Book Review: Love, Like Water by Rowan Speedwell

Love, Like Water by Rowan SpeedwellTitle: Love, Like Water
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: July 10, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press

Three years undercover with one of the worst gangs in the country left FBI agent Joshua Chastain shattered. Battling nightmares and addiction, he leaves the concrete jungle for New Mexico horse country, hoping to start over on his uncle’s ranch.

Foreman Eli Kelly spends his life rehabilitating abused animals, and Joshua is just another lost soul. But as Joshua slowly begins to put his life back together, Eli realizes that Joshua is a lot more than his newest project.

Joshua’s plan seems to work—maybe a fresh start was just what he needed. Then, just when he has finally found a sense of peace, crime and hatred nearly destroy all his hard work. forcing him to reevaluate what he wants out his relationship with Eli and his own life.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: Powerful MM romance with nuanced leads and strong secondary characters.

The Set Up: Joshua is fragile after completing a three year undercover assignment with a murderous, drug-dealing Chicago gang. He’s battling addiction as well as nightmares so when his uncle in New Mexico offers him a place to stay, Joshua takes it. Eli is the ranch foreman and lead horse trainer. Eli and Joshua connect despite their differences but Joshua’s recovery is going to take time.

Why I Read this Book: I love angsty romances with damaged leads so this synopsis captured my attention.

What I Liked: This is a stellar character-driven romance. Joshua and Eli are both extremely well drawn and both became people I truly came to understand. Joshua’s battle with his demons of addiction and things he was forced to see and do as an undercover FBI agent was heart-wrenching. I love that this book doesn’t take an easy out and make Josh suddenly all better when he meets Eli; instead this is a romance of how a broken man can build a life out of the ruins of his former self. This is a powerful romance for me as Joshua works so hard to overcome addition and self-doubt and does so with professional help. Unlike too many romances were Eli would “save” Joshua from himself, here Josh must save himself in order to build a life with Eli. Eli’s warmth and compassion were just what Josh needs but he’s not perfect either. For example, Eli makes a grave mistake when Josh opens up to him and the pain this caused both men was palpable. The emotional intimacy packed a huge punch for me and compliments the men’s intense and emotionally-charged sexual intimacy.

What I Also Liked: I also adored the secondary characters here. Josh’s uncle and horse ranch owner, Tucker, is a lovely, homespun character trying to lead a meaningful life. How he reacts to Eli and Josh’s relationship is both a little salty but also very loving and one of the best parts of this book. The ranch’s housekeeper and her son are also good additions to this cast of characters. Finally, the horses that the men rehabilitate are almost characters as well. How Tucker, Eli and Josh work with the abused and neglected horses shows so much about each of their characters and contributed to the emotionally laden tone of this book.

Finally, I greatly enjoyed the multicultural feel of the book and the unexpected drama at novel’s end. Joshua is half Puerto Rican and I love the inclusion of this and the more Mexican flavor of the ranch since it’s in New Mexico. The food, the Spanish language and the music enrich this already great novel. And even the drama at novel’s end was different than I expected. Given Joshua’s FBI undercover work I totally thought I was smarty-pants and knew how that would come back around but it didn’t go the way I thought and I enjoyed that complexity.

What I Didn’t Like: Given that this is such a stellar novel I shouldn’t be picky but I am. Eli calls Josh “son” all the time and frankly that creeped me out! To be fair, Josh calls Eli on how odd it is to call his sexual partner “son” and Eli calls himself “son” too so it’s just part of his character. Still, it weirded me out and I don’t like getting anywhere close to incest or pedophilia, even though that clearly wasn’t the dynamic between the men.

IMO: This emotionally-laden romance with a very troubled lead will be devoured by MM readers who enjoy angsty romance like I do.

J9’s Rating:
4 1/2 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


  1. Bought! I love some angst and a wounded hero too. Great review, J9. smiles...


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