Breathe


Title: Breathe
Author: Sloan Parker
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
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

36 comments

  • 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, that’s how much I came to care for them. Great rec, and great job by the author

    Reply
  • 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 I’m sure to have a different perspective. I’ve got a lot to learn it seems.

    Reply
    • 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 to take away is how much you really, really loved Breathe. 🙂 Everyone’s opinions matter here as I’m sure you realize, and I hope you will continue to comment on the reviews.

      Reply
  • 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. Once they forgave themselves, they could move on and love again. It seems to me that the message of the story is of more value than any ‘I’ Sloan may had forgotten to dot or ‘T’ she neglected to cross. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect in a story for it to be moving and memorable. I think Sloan was extraordinarily brave to take on such a deep, meaningful theme and I for one am grateful.

    Reply
    • 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.< < I believe my Review Summary shows that I did "get" what the story was all about. >>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 writer and that the writing and and characterizations were well done. One of the unfortunate aspects about reviewing is that the reviewers have to say what they feel was done well in a book, as well as what areas in their opinion, did not make sense, which is what I did. Every reader takes away somethng different from a book because reading is so very personal and opinions differ. I'm very happy you enjoyed Breathe which I did as well, although perhaps not as much as you. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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 my head about. 🙂 However I’m told all the time that these stories are fantasies so I guess I’ll have to put some things in the “fantasy” category.

      Sloan is a new writer and she’s trying different things, some of which worked and others didn’t (for me anyway), but her books are always intense and interesting.

      Like you More is still my favourite of her two books that have been released.

      Reply

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