A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Very emotionally stressed situations past and present complicate the growing relationship between damaged- only to different degrees- characters.
Blurb: After filing charges that put his abusive ex-Dom behind bars, Jesse Turbul relocates halfway across the country, hoping to escape his past—but, of course, it’s never that easy. When Jesse meets third-year law student Aadon at the library where he works, their mutual attraction is instant and obvious.
Despite the sparks, they just can’t seem to make it work. Aadon is mired in guilt over his inability to help his older brother, damaged by events far too similar to Jesse’s past. Jesse is stuck in his own desperate wish to forget the painful shadow that continues to threaten him and any hope of a happy future.
The only way to move forward is for Jesse to acknowledge he’s broken and for Aadon to accept he can’t make him better.
I really liked the first part of this book, there was a gentle but flirty build up with some nice sexual tension as we got to meet the main characters. Both these guys were believable, coming off the page with depth and thoughtfulness. Jesse’s tentative first steps at dealing with his attraction to Aadon showed an appealing strength.
This relationship is set up to stimulate change in their lives, enabling Jesse most obviously to face his past and deal differently with the deep damage- physical and psychological- he has suffered. It was an interesting point at which to start their story, both character’s backgrounds are full of complicated and painful situations, and their often bitter back stories very much informed their present actions.
Jesse’s damaged personality was sensitively and sympathetically imagined. Aadon was not allowed to appear as a simplistic rescue figure. His care for his brother Ricky added something special to his character. While his enthusiastic friends and extended family occasionally lightened the generally depressed mood. Although Jesse is the victim of a criminally abusive Dom, BDSM is used more in this book to show elements of personality, both in a negative and positive light.
Eventually for me the story buckled beneath the weight of all the emotional pain, which covered the past, informed the present and threatened the future. There was not much in the way of rest from all the circumstances of Jesse’s problems. Almost every character had some burden to struggle with, that inflicted on Jesse’s best friend Sarah in particular seemed unnecessary. Moreover just when things seemed to have become relatively calm, there was the added irritation of Aadon’s extra problems with his parents. This wasn’t needed to get the result it did, which could have been achieved more naturally.
I found parts of this book appealing, but as a complete story there was rather too much emphasis on ever layered emotional crises for my taste and I didn’t quite believe in the albeit satisfying but coincidence led conclusion.