Title: War Paint (States of Love Series)
Author: Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 88
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
There’s an art to love.
Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.
Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?
Artist Ben is in Atlanta, Georgia to complete a commissioned mural and while sitting on a bench pondering his concept, he is approached by Eli, who mistakes Ben for a homeless man and offers him a coffee and a biscuit and tucks a dollar into Ben’s dog, David’s, collar. Eli is a wounded warrior living in an extended stay hotel, writing in his therapeutic journal and struggling to find his place in the world.
Sarah Black has a beautiful writing style – very evocative – and the structure of this novella feels like a series of vignettes (with titles Ben, Hungry for Pot Stickers, Eli with the camera, etc.) where we learn about each man; their histories, their strengths and their weaknesses. And their relationship evolves naturally into an abiding love that neither expects:
He wanted him like he’d been thirsty for years, lost in the desert, and now his thirst was slaked and his tongue wet and his throat soothed. Ben had fallen in love before, but he couldn’t remember these feelings of hunger and need, desire and sweetness.
I loved this book – loved the language, loved the way each character slowly unfolds before our eyes, the way the men develop together as artists, and all in less than 100 pages. My only (very small) complaint is that while the book is in the “States of Love” series, I didn’t learn anything about Georgia and its uniqueness. The story would have worked in any setting. 4.5 stars for this little gem of a story.