A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: A long winded, sentimental but careful story of an ex soldier with PTSD finding unexpected love and far too much unexceptional sex.
Jace, an injured ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, saves Nathaniel, a nineteen-year-old street kid, from a beating. In doing so, he has no way of knowing that he will find his own salvation.
Jace came home from the war scarred in more ways than one. The physical scars that he carries are nothing compared to the mental ones. Struggling with PTSD, he has closed himself off from the rest of the world. The last thing that he ever thought to do was fall in love… Nathaniel has lived on the streets since he was thirteen. When he wakes up in a strange apartment after being badly beaten, he has no idea how he got there. Little does he know that his rescuer, the large man with scars crisscrossing his face, could hold the key to healing the scars that they both have.
From the title it’s not hard to guess the overall premise of this book. Jace has very bad physical scars, especially on his face and awful enough that people stare in the street or shops. In addition to this Jace is trying to cope with PTSD. His case is so bad, involving frequent debilitating nightmares and panic attacks, he is seeing his therapist everyday. He has cut himself off from his large close knit family as he struggles to come to terms with the after effects of his war.
After he rescues Nathanial from being beaten up his life improves. The guy’s attraction to each other happens relatively quickly and probably comes under the vague heading of OFY, as neither man seems to have any experience of homosexual love.
The writer treats the subject of PTSD with care in her book. It is not window dressing magically cured by medicinal cock. There is no easy solution for Jace and the attacks don’t necessarily ease off once his love life improves. Having said that while I did find the overall tone to the book to be worthy and well meaning it was also heavy handed. Everything was spelt out in careful detail, not only PTSD but also the guy’s enthusiastic new found delight in exploring gay sex. There was far too much unoriginal sex going on for me, every word felt familiar. On my second read through of the book I had to flip those pages. Too often I felt like the obligatory character who always says, ‘ get a room ‘.
Although while as a character Nathanial is nothing if not nice, I found his back story to be unsubstantiated by his behaviour. Perhaps standing as an example of nature over nurture; for someone who has had no schooling since thirteen after a deprived childhood he was amazingly articulate. That said, contrarily, I liked the heroics of his enthusiastic speeches when Jace was faced with his confused and blustering father. I did like Jace’s large and boisterous family of big country men. Later in the book I also had problems with a fast developed sub plot, another element which pushed my belief a little more.
While Jace’s story showed good intent and was just interesting enough to hold my attention, the style here is quite laboured and without nuance. There was no salt to add savour to the dish.The language stays with the predictable and was often blandly sentimental. So this one was not really to my taste, but it was a decent treatment of a difficult subject.