5 Beautiful Stars"I can imagine you and us a million ways here, Thomas. I will make my home where you are, because you are my home. I don’t know any way to say it any more clearly."I could say a lot of things about this book, about how brilliant it is and how captivating it is. But really, when you get down to the heart of what the story is all about, I will say that this is quite simply just a love story. I'm not going to say a love story between two men, it is what it is. A love story. MarcusMarcus is a gallery owner, at the same time, a Dom. Perfectly beautiful, perfectly at ease with his surroundings. He has everything and yet he doesn't. Not really. Not anything that matters to him anyway. He definitely doesn't have the one person he wants. ThomasThomas is a simple farm boy, according to him. Grew up in a small town, tried to do right by his family, did his duties but his town couldn't contain his talent. It was his talent that brought him into Marcus's glittering world.Their StoryAs I mentioned earlier, this is a story about love. When Marcus and Thomas met, it was as if the world finally made sense. They were together for months and for all intents and purposes, were happy even though just lurking beneath the surface were secrets and responsibilities that threaten to overwhelm both of them. They were torn apart when Thomas had to go back to North Carolina after his father suffered a heart attack. Family come first for Thomas. So while it hurts to leave Marcus and the life he has with him, he didn't shirk his responsibilities. “You didn’t want me to come, even though I could hear your voice breaking over the phone. I told you I would do whatever you needed, be whatever, wherever you needed me to be, when all I wanted to do was go to you, stand by you, while you faced one of the hardest moments of your life. You came back, thinking you could pick up some of the pieces, but I should have known then it hadn’t been resolved. Your brother got hurt and you left again. In the middle of the night, because you couldn’t handle saying goodbye.”Marcus was devastated when Thomas left and although he understood why Thomas had to leave, he still felt betrayed and abandoned. See, Marcus had no one in his life. His family abandoned him too. No one stood up for him. His story was a heert-breaking one. As a reader, I definitely understood his issues and why he acted the way he did, why he was so closed off. Their reunion was both lovely and yet tenuous at first until they were able to sort out their issues. The issue with Thomas family felt very real and it really added a layer of complexity to their relationship. Marcus's past also played a big part. At first, I wasn't quite sure why Marcus was being closed off when he clearly admitted he loved Thomas. But when I read his story, it made sense. “Your mother, your family, is a serious obstacle. But what I’ve realized is that you’re the true problem. What you feel you deserve, the faith you have in us. The question isn’t do I belong in this world of yours, but do you want me to belong in it? I’m willing to try, because your mother is right about one thing. You need this part of your life. It’s as much a part of who you are as your painting. And…maybe I need it too, because it’s the core of you.”Personally, I think Joey Hill does a brilliant job with the whole family dynamics in the books. Many may not agree with Thomas's mother or even Marcus's mother in dealing with their son's sexual orientation, you understand where they're coming from and empathize somewhat with their characters. That to me is a testament of how brilliant Joey Hill is as a writer. “The words you just said to me mean everything. So I owe you the same. I won’t ever have you wonder if you just overwhelmed me, coaxed me into this. I’m standing up to you, Master. To Marcus Aurelius Stanton, turning you down flat until I can go get my life in shape and deserve you. Then, I’m going to ask you to marry me.”I loved this book. Rough Canvas is one of those books that would stay with me for a long time.