A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: Thirteen years apart is a very lost love. Aidan and Ethan struggle with separate pasts, current problems and a great deal of anger and mistrust to eliminate the lost and find the love.
Redemption, Maine. Never had the name of a town been more apt or mocked a person more.
Aidan Morgan made many mistakes in his young life, but moving to Redemption gave him a chance to wash away his poor choices and repair his relationship with his siblings.
Ethan Ashworth had the blond good looks of a hometown football star, but the picture didn’t match the heart and mind of the young man living inside.
The new kid in town with a history of getting into trouble and an unlikely geek don’t often make a match, but a unique friendship forms. With one searing kiss on graduation day, promises of a future are made. One day later Aidan is gone, and Ethan’s heart is left broken.
Redemption, Maine. Never had the name of a town been more apt or mocked a person more…twice.
Thirteen years ago Aidan disappeared in the dead of night, but he is home now. Aidan has come home to take the job of chief of the fire department and to reconnect with his brother and sister. He wants Ethan back too. Unable to forget their kiss, Aidan wants to explain why he went away, and he wants a second chance to win Ethan’s heart.
Too bad for Aidan, Ethan isn’t so quick to forgive and forget. He dealt with a life-changing crises after Aidan went away. His hurt and anger at how Aidan left him alone has resurfaced, bringing the controlled man back to life. Ethan will listen to Aidan’s reasons for leaving when he’s damn good and ready…and not a minute before.
Redemption, Maine. A place for second chances. Will the town–and Ethan Ashworth give Aidan Morgan another shot to get it right?
This is book one in the Seeking Redemption series. Book two, Devlin & Garrick was reviewed by Wave here.
Aidan and Ethan meet in high school when four bullies try to get the better of Aidan. Ethan cleverly diffuses the situation before trouble can occur. Over the next three years, the two become close friends. Hours after their graduation ceremony, they engage in a very hot kiss-and-jerk session against a tree, exchange vows of eternal love and make plans to travel the country together. Except Aidan leaves that very night–alone–, leaving only a note for his younger siblings that he’s okay and not to try to look for him. For the next 13 years, he’s gone, never once asking about or trying to contact Ethan.
Now he has returned to Redemption to be with his siblings, Devlin and Maddie, full-time and to get Ethan back. He knows it won’t be easy, but after 13 years, he’s finally ready to try. Time away hasn’t been easy for Aidan–he never stopped loving Ethan–but he has no idea what Ethan has endured over the years. Does he push Ethan to accept him back into his life, or give him the space he needs to adjust to Aidan’s return? Either path Aidan chooses, if successful, is sure to hurt another volunteer firefighter, Ethan’s girlfriend Kara.
Ethan has been through emotional hell. First Aidan deserted him, then his mother became ill, which caused his father to abandon the family, leaving Ethan to care for her and his younger brother Wyn. And he’s not at all happy Aidan Morgan has decided to just turn up again out of the blue. He has enough on his plate teaching high school science, coaching girls volleyball, volunteer firefighting and helping care for his mother, Jayne, whose cancer has returned. As desperate as he is for an explanation for Aidan’s disappearance all those years ago, he is more afraid to let down his emotional guard to the man he still loves.
It’s one step forward, two steps back for a while, but eventually a confrontation is forced and the healing finally begins. And by healing, I mean the hot sex. After that comes the real healing.
Actually, this book contains far fewer sex scenes than most of the Cameron Dane titles I’ve read. They’re pretty good. Ethan does engage in one very long masturbation fantasy that is slightly disturbing in both its length and vividness. While the well-known florid phrasing of Dane’s other books isn’t absent, it is far less prevalent in this one. According to the search function on my Kindle, the noun “ejaculate” appears only one time in Aidan & Ethan (versus 12 times in Knowing Caleb and 7 times in Devlin & Garrick), while “pre-ejaculate,” sadly, seeped in 4 times (4 distracting times in Knowing Caleb, once in Devlin & Garrick). I was sorry to see, however, that “Aidan’s asshole went up in a flame of fire.” Really surprising, that, considering the presence of two firefighters! (Go ahead and groan; you know you were thinking it!)
What Did Not Work For Me:
Well, flaming assholes are a good start. But perhaps the most distracting issue in this book is the overuse of onomatopoeia. We all know what a ringing phone, a barking dog and a knock on a door sound like. The one time the onomatopoeia seemed to fit is when the front door slams at Ethan’s mother’s house. Aidan and Jayne are in another room, so the sound coming before anything else works. I could almost feel the air pressure change.
Almost nothing is learned about Aidan’s life away from Redemption, how he grows into the man he is, about his struggles to live without the love of his life, etc. Much more use could have been made of this, especially when Aidan explains to Ethan why he left. His reason for leaving probably makes sense to a scared 18-year-old kid, but his reason for staying out of contact as the years progressed do stretch credibility a bit. Or a lot.
Heads are hopped often. It didn’t bother me personally, but I’m mentioning it here because I know it bothers others. This is one of those rare stories that I feel benefits from being seen from both perspectives.
Perhaps the biggest “WTF” moment comes when we learn both Aidan and Ethan have reached the age of 31 without having sex with anyone else. Just the one kiss-and-jerk after graduation, then nothing but self-pleasure. Nada. For thirteen years. That’s 26 sexless years between them! I understand pining for your lost love, but I also very clearly remember being a gay man in his 20s. Even if one doesn’t pile one’s plate high with tricks, one must sample at least a little something from the buffet, right? Right.
What Did Work For Me:
Devlin, Maddie and Wyn are interesting and amusing secondary characters. Devlin, obviously, gets his own story in Devlin & Garrick. A quick cruise of Dane’s website confirms that she plans to write a Wyn-and-Maddie story as well. Even though it’ll be het, those two are so much fun together that I might read it.
Aidan and Ethan talk during the resolution. It isn’t a lame, “Oh sweet, I forgive you, now fuck me and we’ll live together forever!” No, they actually talk about where Ethan went gone to school, how he dealt with his mom’s first bout with cancer, what Aidan’s desertion did to him emotionally. Aidan’s guilt returns several times during the conversation, which seems very genuine. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the book, where they actually begin to learn about each other again.
Their first lovemaking (not first sex, mind you) is sweetly awkward, a reflection both of their inexperience and their enormous desire to please one another. It’s rare that one reads anything other than perfect, mind-blowing sex, so this was a treat, a mark of authenticity.
I have now read this book twice, once for pleasure and again for this review, and liked it a lot both times. I felt more of a connection to Ethan each time, perhaps because his struggles are external as well as internal, current instead of all in the past. Despite the striated and flaming assholes, the pre-ejaculate and onomatopoeia, I definitely recommend this book. Like other Cameron Dane books I’ve read, if you can overcome the occasionally excessively florid prose, the story is a good one, with sympathetic characters for whom you will want a happy ending.