A Guest Review by Feliz
The Blurb: When the spark in his relationship fizzles, Dominic thinks he’s doing the right thing by breaking it off with his lover, Brody, but he never expected his good bye to go so horribly bad. Consumed with guilt, Dom confronts Brody about his self-destructive behavior, only to find himself second-guessing his decision to leave him, and now Dom will have to sort out his feelings for Brody before fate ties his hands.
The Review: Brody and Dom have been together for two years. In the beginning Dom was enticed by Brody’s shyness and pliability. Dom courted Brody faithfully, enjoyed playing cavalier, even gave him an Eye of Horus pendant as a promise to always keep Brody safe and protected. Yet, over the years, Dom grows to find himself annoyed by the very traits and personality which made Brody such a desirable mate for him in the first place, to a point where he can’t even stand being in a room with Brody anymore, loathing even the sound of his voice. Thus Dom walks out on Brody, telling himself it’s for the best of them both, and flees their mutual circle of friends for two weeks.
Returning, Dom finds himself shocked by what has become of Brody. The formerly shy and introverted man has taken to excessive drinking and slutty behavior, taking a different man home every night, even dealing out random blowjobs in bathrooms. Even though Dom has cut Brody loose, he feels worried for his former lover’s self – destructive behaviour and confronts him one evening when they run into each other in the club’s bathroom. Instead of driving him away, Brody’s hurtful accusations intrigue Dom to a point where he can’t help taking Brody home. They have sex, during which Dom feels as if there could be something still between them, a hope for a new beginning. But when he wakes up in the morning, Brody is gone, the changed man Dom’s departure has made of him not caring what Dom wants or needs anymore. Now it’s Dom who’s left wounded, mourning the love he has so casually cast aside.
In romances it’s usually the abandoned one who tells about the end of a relationship. Here, the narrator is the quitter, Dominic, and his voice is fierce, and distinct, and mercilessly open.
I hated this story, and I hated both protags with a vengeance. Dom is such a selfish, uncaring, unmindful asshole, and Brody an overly dramatic, demonstrative, self-pitying martyr type. And yet I couldn’t stop thinking about their ill-fated love, couldn’t get Dom and Brody out of my head. These two men should never have been together in the first place.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all known men like Dom, men who can’t stomach real nearness, men who get cold feet when things become too close; and I think we’ve all been where Brody is after Dom left him, lost and forlorn without the love which was the center of our universe, thinking our lives pointless now. A romance author who knows what he/ she is doing won’t break a sweat taking readers to this place, right into the depths of desperation. But traditionally we, the readers are then delivered from our apprehension some way or other by a miracle which makes the lovers see sense and gets them back together, thus preventing the fictional caracters of having to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Here, no chance. The characters must go until the bitter end, suffer through the fallout of their breakdown, and to no avail at that; although Dom indeed goes through some kind of character growth, I can’t help disbelieving if he’s really learned his lesson despite everything he tells Brody in the end.
There was nothing sweet about this story, it was bitter, as bitter as life itself. Love, the best and most precious thing man can have turned into despair by neglect, self – hate, disgust, and at last, the worst gift out of Pandora’s box, deceived hope. Although Dom was the one who started it, both men had their part in destroying themselves and each other, spiralling down and down towards the catastrophe. Which was all the worse for the fact it could have been avoided, had only one of them paused for a second to look at things from the other one’s point of view.
A while ago Wave asked me what it was with me and these Bittersweet Dreams since I’m obviously always the first to go for them. This story made me think about her question. I do read for entertainment, for escapism, and for happiness like everyone else, but sometimes I want more. Sometimes I can’t settle for being elated but need to feel the tears and the deepest depths of pain of the characters instead. I haven’t cried over a book in decades, but I did over this. How much more real can you get? So forgive me all you out there who don’t share my occasional need for painfully true reality in my reading – I had to rate Sins of the Heart five stars, it was that good.
Dreamspinner Press and Author Allison Cassatta will donate 100% of the FULL RETAIL price from “Sins of the Heart” to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal Fund to help people suffering loss during such a tragic time in Australia.