Breathe

Title:  Breathe
Author: Sloan Parker
Publisher:  Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Suspense
Length: Novel Plus (98 K words – 234 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Summary Review: A story that will at times break your heart as the protagonists try to get past an event that was so traumatic it changed who they were.

** This review contains what might be considered spoilers **



THE B
LURB

Lincoln McCaw lost everything–his home, his job, his partner–after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he’s drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.

Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything–a friendship and a love that could save him? Or will someone else destroy it all?

THE REVIEW

Lincoln McCaw was in a hurry to get to his sister Nancy’s house and probably drove a little faster than he intended. Why? Because her husband was beating the crap out of her.  He was accustomed to driving fast because he was a race car driver, but the street wasn’t a race track and he lost control of the car and hit and killed Jay Miller’s wife, Katie. So at 22 Jay became a widower after 1 year of marriage. It was an accident that Linc would always regret, but he couldn’t bring Katie back.

Fast forward a year later. Linc now had his “get out of jail free” card, having served 6 months for vehicular manslaughter, and he was starting his life over with nothing – no home, no car racing career since the Judge took that away, no job, and no lover. The only place he could live was at his sister’s house with her and her three children until he could find a job and get on his feet. Life was definitely not a bowl of cherries for Linc whose personal circumstances changed from a luxurious home with all the toys and a great job as well as a lover to sleeping in his 10-year old nephew’s bedroom, on a single bed, on sheets depicting cartoon characters, and frying his brains with whiskey when he was awake.

For Jay it was even worse. He had lost his wife in an accident, someone he had loved since they were kids. His family and Katie’s wallowed in her death, refusing to let him move on, and spent all their spare time visiting Katie’s grave – on her birthday, on his birthday, on their wedding anniversary, and on the anniversary of her death. They even taped the news coverage of Linc’s sentencing and played it over and over again, obsessively. Jay lived in the house he and Katie had bought that was deteriorating and fast becoming a dump because he didn’t maintain the property and never cleaned it; what was the point when he no longer had a life?

One night when Jay was in his favourite bar he saw a hot man he didn’t know, (he had never seen Linc at the trial apparently, or even photos of him in the newspapers, despite his fame as a race car driver) who changed his life forever. Linc was drowning his sorrows in drink and Jay was immediately attracted to him, which was strange because although occasionally in the past he had thought of having sex with men he never doubted that he was heterosexual. That first night nothing happened even though they talked to each other. However, when they met again it was all bets off as both men were craving sex as they hadn’t had any in a year. They had oral sex outside the bar in the back and it was hot and passionate, but when they figured out each other’s identity they were devastated. Yet they couldn’t stay away, which had the expected consequences when it became known they were having a torrid sexual affair.

In addition to everything else going on in his life Linc had been receiving threats while in jail, and now that he was out the threats kept on coming accompanied by pictures of Katie taken in the morgue, telling him that he had no right to be alive. These threats escalated from letters to action targeting Linc’s niece and sending her to the hospital. The perpetrator became bolder and Linc was shot, then the plot became a bit incomprehensible (to me anyway) with Linc and Jay deciding to investigate the threats on their own rather than going to the Police when it was clear that the the next step would be murder.

I love suspense and this aspect of the story interested me a great deal, but I had difficulty with all the sub plots, one of which was unrelated to Jay and Linc. Also, the scene at the end in the cemetery when the perpetrator was revealed seemed too incredible to be believed – it was certainly dramatic but I had difficulty rationalizing it – but maybe that’s just my logical mind. If you read the book you will understand what I mean.

Without  a doubt, this is one of the most angst filled books I have read in a long time, however many M/M readers love angst so you will have a wonderful reading experience and probably find the story uplifting because it had a very good ending.  I loved the ending but there were 233 pages before the HEA, and at times I didn’t see how that could be achieved. Also, the complicated and suspenseful plot had so many twists and turns and suspects that it was hard to keep everyone straight. On the positive side there is a lot to recommend Breathe, especially the protagonists and the writing.

The hot sex between Jay and Linc burned up the pages although they had to overcome almost impossible odds to be together, and despite everything going on in their lives they tried to make a go of their relationship in a world where almost all of Jay’s family members were violently opposed – first because of his sexual orientation, and second because of who he was dating. The suspense could be felt throughout the story and Sloan Parker did a very good job at keeping the tension high.

Most of the characterizations were well done especially Paul, Linc’s ex, Linc’s niece and nephews who were a delight, his sister Nancy, and some members of Jay’s crazy family and in-laws who were perhaps one step away from the looney bin. In terms of the protagonists, Linc and Jay were three dimensional and Linc was determined not to forget Katie and the fact that he had caused her death, which made him even more real as he gave Jay the anchor he needed.

This is one book I had a hard time rating because although I loved a lot of it I had difficulty with some elements as I indicated in the review. The story is intense, complex and sad, and shows that an event like this could make people unbalanced and even push them off the edge. If you’re looking for a book that’s suspenseful and definitely not run of the mill, then Breathe should be on your “buy’ list.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

feliz
Hi Wave, I’ve finally gotten around to read Breathe which I wanted to ever since I read this review of yours. I must say, thank you for pointing me towards this! The way the author took a completely impossible plot and turned it around so that it actually worked was fantastic. I’d have rated it higher, although I had the same niggles you had, but i found i didn’t care as much. This was such a hope-inspiring story of forgiveness and acceptance – I’m still thinking of Linc and Jay, even though I’ve read two other books in the meantime,… Read more »
Arlene Thompson
I’m sorry that you thought I meant you didn’t get it. I apologize. I was more reacting to the other comments about the book. I adored MORE but it was not nearly as well told as BREATHE and on a completely different level. I don’t think they can be compared. My fear is that readers won’t fully appreciate it for the gem it is, but then I guess there is no getting around that. As you said, everyone takes something different and it is very subjective. I’m one of those intense people who read between the lines and backwards so… Read more »
Wave
Arlene I think Sloan has a lot of fans since she wrote More, so many readers will buy Breathe. It really doesn’t matter what I say about Breathe – which BTW I have said many times was well written and that I loved the characterizations – there are many other reviewers and review sites which will probably give the book 5 stars. My only problem was the plot and even with my niggles I gave the book 4.25 stars, a pretty good rating. I love many books others don’t and vice versa. I think the important thing we both want… Read more »
Arlene Thompson
Breathe was so much more than what any of you are talking about. This is a very powerful story of forgiveness and moving on. Most of the characters hated Lincoln because they wanted to hold on to their grief. They never comforted Jay, only made him feel worse because he had no one he could talk about Katie with. He and Lincoln shared the same pain over the same accident. The two of them were the only ones who could understand each other’s pain. They both carried guilt for the accident and felt that they didn’t deserve to be happy.… Read more »
Wave
Arlene >>A story that will at times break your heart as the protagonists try to get past an event that was so traumatic it changed who they were.<>Linc was determined not to forget Katie and the fact that he had caused her death, which made him even more real as he gave Jay the anchor he needed.<< As you can see from the above I did indicate that Linc never forgot that he had caused Katie's death and how much support he gave to Jay. Also, I believe I mentioned that this was a very ambitious book for a new… Read more »
nichem

Great review, Wave. I read this yesterday, and while I enjoyed it, I had the same niggles with it that you did– that Jay had never seen Linc’s face and the whole cemetery scene (even though early on I had guessed who it was). I also couldn’t figure out why Jay’s parents got any money in the settlement (Jay and Katie’s parents yes, but Jay’s parents?). I’d recommend this one, but I preferred More.

Wave
Hi Nichem Thanks for commenting. I didn’t want to go on about the other issues I had with the book but the settlement was something that befuddled me. Why did Jay’s parents receive a settlement? Katie was not their daughter. Her husband and her parents would be entitled but her in-laws? When I thought about it further I figured maybe it had something to do with US laws with which I would not be familiar. The cemetery scene and the fact that Jay had never seen Linc’s face, even though he was a famous race car driver, I’m still scratching… Read more »
Nanna

I would’ve given the book a better rating. I can’t explain why I had no problems with the cemetery scene without spoiling people who haven’t read the book yet – which would be a real shame.

Wave
Hi Enny Thanks for commenting. Re the cemetary scene, I could only suspend disbelief so far. Like you, I can’t explain without giving away spoilers. The other concern I had was, why hadn’t Jay seen photographs of Linc anywhere, even if he hadn’t attended the trial or seen the tape until much later? I would have assumed that being a race car driver Linc’s face would have been plastered on the front pages of the local newspapers during the trial and also when he was sentenced. It would be human nature to take a peek at the man who killed… Read more »
Nanna

It took me a while to reply because I first had to re-read the book. In chapter 3 it got stated quite clearly that Jay tried to avoid to think about the accident. He never watched the video, he didn’t like going to the cemetery, he didn’t want to talk about the accident, he even threw the suit he wore for the funeral into the trash, so I personally have no problems believing that he wouldn’t have read any newspaper articles about the trial.

Wave
Hi Enny As I said above, I did mention that Jay tried to avoid discussing Katie (in fact the only person he talked to about her was Linc), and that he hadn’t seen the tape until after he met Linc. It’s a moot point whether or not he saw any newspapers with Linc’s picture since we’ll never know. My main niggle was the last scene at the cemetery which seemed to go on forever. At one point I felt like saying “just go ahead and shoot already” – but that’s just me. 🙁 Others may find this scene quite appropriate.… Read more »
Diane NYC

I just bought this book today and look forward to reading it. Thanks for the review Wave. The plot in More got a little far fetched towards the end too… but I still enjoyed it.

Wave

Hi Diane
I think you will enjoy Breathe because it was well written and I loved the protagonists. Sloane seems to love having crazy characters in her books because More had the crazy father if I recall, the Senator from hell. I think this one is even more far fetched – but that’s just me; you might enjoy the last scene. LOL

sunshine

Buda, I got the impression that he was avoiding the fixation his mom and his wife’s family had with Linc. I think the book says he went out of the room whenever they started on how much they hated him and whenever his mom showed those tapes.

I am also a little bit sad that Linc was not allowed to EVER race again. Is that believable? I can understand a suspension but never again?

Wave

Sunshine
I did understand that Jay went out of the room whenever the parents started on their monologues about how they hated Linc and that he should pay, but how could he avoid newspapers for an entire year, especially when someone famous had his picture plastered on them as he was being tried for vehicular manslaughter??

The lifetime ban seems a bit harsh but I guess he had to pay in a material way in addition to jail time. We’re all lawyers. LOL

sunshine

Yes, it doesn’t really seem believable, I agree. And I agree that it is weird that Linc had to pay settlement to all of them… but then again, I am not american so I dont know the legal system.

Buda

Okay, first let me say I was extremely intrigued by this blurb…until I realized Jay had been through the entire judicial process surrounding his wife’s death without ever once seeing Linc’s face. Never once? Not even on those tapes the in-laws kept playing repeatedly? Come on! Never happen in a million years.

Can you move me beyond this major reservation, Wave?

Wave
Hi Buda >>he had never seen Linc at the trial apparently or even photos of him<< I used the word "apparently" because I could find no explanation of why Jay didn't know who Linc was. I re-read parts of the book to try and find an explanation but couldn't. Maybe I missed it because it was a pretty long book. IDK. Even if he didn't attend the trial one would think he would have wanted to see what his wife's killer looked like, and the only time he looked at the news footage was after he found out who he… Read more »
Arlene Thompson

Jay didn’t know who Lincoln was because he NEVER watched any of the news casts and never went to court.

Wave

Arlene
I think I said in the review that Jay didn’t watch the news report of the sentencing until after he met Linc. The one point I couldn’t understand was how he could have avoided all the newspapers as well when Linc was such a well known race car driver. It seems to me that he would have known who he was BEFORE the accident since he was somewhat of a local celebrity.

Arlene Thompson
It could be a matter of seeing what you wanting to see and be blinded to what you didn’t. He did not WANT to see Lincoln. He couldn’t stand the pain and with his family around, digging in with their hate, I can understand. As for being a local celebrity, there are a lot of people around who I wouldn’t recognize unless I followed whatever their sport happens to be. Heck! I met Joe Gibbs, Redskins football coach, years ago at a city council meeting and had no idea who he was. And let’s face it, would you recognize someone… Read more »
Buda

Wave, even though you were no help 🙂 I’m still intrigued enough to read it eventually. If it gets that high a rating from you with all the reservations, then that’s a good enough rec for me.

Wave

I know I’m a disappointment Buda. I just can’t be depended on to have answers to ANY of your questions. LOL

I still prefer More obviously, but Breathe was well written and the characterizations of the protags were 3D. A few of the other characters were not as well drawn (to me anyway) but overall Sloan did a good job. A very ambitious plot for a new writer.

Lily

Great review, Wave. I put this one on my wish list but I think I’ll move it up to the top now. 🙂

Wave

Hi Lily
I know you love angst as well as hot sex so Breathe should be on top of your list. LOL

Wave

Hi Eden
How can you resist such a combination, especially the hot sex part. LOL

edenwinters

Angst, hot sex, and written by Sloan Parker? How can I resist?

sunshine
I actually also bought More (not into m/m/m’s usually) after reading Breathe and I liked it, one of the few books where I felt the threesome relationship worked and was interesting. Lots of sex, but intense and captivating. I’ve noticed that I get a little frustrated with m/m/m’s stories where the threesome strives for social acceptance outside their family/friend sphere. I just find that too unrealistic if a story is not fantasy/another world/time. Like if gay couples would have been socially accepted 100 years ago, you know? There was a bit of that in More and also in the Dark… Read more »
Wave

Sunshine

The guys definitely were sweet and I loved them. As I said in the review I thought they had perhaps too much to bear

>>A story that will at times break your heart as the protagonists try to get past an event that was so traumatic it changed who they were.<<

MORE is still my favourite Sloan Parker book because the guys needed each other so much, they made the relationship work.

melissa e.
Spot on review of an amazingly good book. I had not read Sloan Parker’s first book MORE as I’m not usually fond of menage books, but I enjoyed BREATHE so much I immediately ordered MORE. The story here in BREATHE was very angsty but both so so sweet and sexy. Loved both of the main characters and found their storyline to be both heartbreaking and hopeful. The secondary suspense storyline did not work nearly as well especially the cemetary scene where everyone and their brother kept popping up. But I loved the story so much overall, I was just sort… Read more »
Wave

Hi Melissa

>>Spot on review of an amazingly good book.<<

Thank you. I really liked this book except for the areas I mentioned in the review. Although I don't usually read books with a lot of angst I couldn't put this one down. Loved the protagonists and cheered for them to make it. That scene in the cemetery was just too much for me though. LOL

You should know that MORE is just as intense but is a different type of book. There is angst, only not as much. I really loved MORE.

sunshine

Yeah, I guess I agree with the cementary scene… I was actually surpised (and maybe not convinced?) over the bad guy/girl. Did you feel that too?

Wave

I did. I just felt that I had written such a damn long review I couldn’t add any more. 🙂

sunshine
Oh, I liked this one wave! I think I would have given it a 4.5 though I agree with everything you wrote. I kinda like books where a lot of things are going on and I didn’t feel it was so super angsty… or maybe I was just in a good mood when I read it. 😀 I think Sloan is a good writer, because this plot could easily have been a train-wreck. I mean, how do you convince readers of a story like this? I think it was pretty belivable that they could fall in love/lust. Some of the… Read more »
Wave
Hi Sunshine Yes it is my review. LOL. I’m still ambivalent about the eventual rating (I think I mentioned in the review that I had a difficult time rating the book) and I usually give myself 24 hours after I re-read the book to confirm the rating. I do like books where there’s more than one thing going on but this one had A LOT and it could have been a train wreck. As I said in the review Sloan’s writing is not in question – her first book I rated 4.75 stars. I just found the scene in the… Read more »
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