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 **
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?
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.