Reviewed by JustJen
Title: The Fence and Then the Trees
Author: J.F. Smith
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 313 Pages
Publisher: J.F. Smith
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: What would you do?
Jack Carber was in a bad spot. Betrayed and thrown in prison, he had to figure out fast how to survive, and with no idea who to trust and who not to trust. To make matters worse, he had already gotten on the bad side of The Kennel on day one. But his biggest threat was the vacant psychopath named Adder, whose cell he found himself sharing. And with this one, his best tools for survival, his skills as a con man, had no effect at all.
How would you survive?
Jack faced dangerous enemies, an indifferent prison administration, and an inmate advocate with his own twisted agenda. He was determined to keep himself alive and sane, even as he began to slowly give up on himself.
As long as he kept his head down and didn’t fall prey to the fatal mistake of trusting anyone ever again, he’d eventually get out alive… in body if not in spirit. And that seemed like the most he could expect.
What would keep you going?
A sudden revelation and the resulting puzzle, though, throws his world into a wildly different light. He’s unexpectedly clutching at a glimmer of hope, something more than mere survival, and yet fighting to not repeat the mistakes of his past again. But something deep inside him begs him to take that risk one more time.
Because, exactly how far would you be willing to go to protect the best thing that ever happened to you, especially when it hadn’t even happened?
Review: Wow, this is one jam packed story. I was pulled in immediately, loved Jack right away, and was cringing and rooting for him (and Adder) through to the very last pages.
Jack was a con man. Unfortunately, on his one last big con, he was stabbed in the back and set up by his bf and their friend. He is sentenced to three years in prison where he is really unsure of how he will survive. Right off the bat, he finds out his cell mate is one scary mother*****r. But, Jack has a plan, and is forced to put it into action right away when he is forced to stand up to another inmate on his first day. Just as with every action in this place, there are two sides of results. Jack makes a positive statement about his position, but he also pisses a lot of people off in the process. But, better that than become the whipping boy to every inmate there, right?
There are so many thing to watch out for, so many different things going on with different groups, and Jack bides his time trying to soak up all the intricacies before deciding how best to act in any given situation. One thing he has going for him is that no one knows he is gay. This is all in addition to the whole cell mate problem Jack has.
Adder is a big dude who nobody messes with. He is serving a 15 year sentence in which he has not spoken a word. There doesn’t appear to be anyone who has or even wanted to get close to the man, but Jack decides that is exactly what he needs to do to get through the next 3 years in one piece.
There is a lot of violence with inmates getting beat, raped, etc. but there is so much more to this story. I found the entire Adder/Jack relationship fascinating. Jack works very hard to get through to Adder in some way, often having to take steps back, or having to deal with negative attention as a result. But, eventually, he does what no one else has managed to do. He earns Adder’s trust, and the two carry on a very symbiotic relationship for the duration of their stay.
There is actually very little on page sex in this story, but the emotions and sexual tension are very vivid. I was hung up on every word, and while I wanted the story to end so these guys made it out, I was sorry to see it end, as I was not quite ready to say goodbye to them.
I definitely recommend this well-written, fascinating and exciting story about enduring hardship, finding love and starting over. This was my first book by this author, and I can’t wait to try something else.
Overall Impression: It was amazing
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*