Title: The Hate You Drink
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Blue Heart Press
Release Date: May 23rd, 2019
Page Count: 320
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Matic
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Erik Keston, son of the Keston Real Estate empire, knows what it takes to be successful. Despite his inherent wealth, he holds his own. He works hard, he’s grounded, he’s brilliant. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend.
Monroe Wellman lost his parents three years ago and never grieved, never recovered. Inheriting the family company and wealth means nothing, and his spiral of self-destruction is widespread and spectacular. Dubbed Sydney’s bad boy, he spends more days drunk than sober, and the only person who’s stuck by him through it all is his best mate.
But when Monroe hits rock bottom, Erik gives him an ultimatum, and his entire world comes to a grinding halt. It’s not until the haze lifts that Monroe can truly see what he’s been searching for was never in the bottom of a bottle. It’s been by his side all along.
An 80,000-word friends-to-lovers story about fighting the demons within and trusting in the love that takes its place.
“Because when all you drink is hate, that’s all there is inside you.”
An anomaly of alcoholism is the inability of others, even though affected, to put themselves in the shoes of the alcoholic. Apparently the alcoholic’s personal experience, much as it may engender empathy, or horror, or even anger, does not transfer to the inner core of the observer. So, whether reading of it, or seeing it in theaters or on television, it is near impossible to feel the condition as if from the inside.
Surprisingly, N R Walker has come damn close to engaging the reader’s sense of the problem – from both the views of the alcoholic and from those of those closest to him.
While telling this story of addiction, Ms. Walker also has provided a secondary, parallel story of love between the alcoholic and his longtime friend. Well-constructed, these two threads eventually cross and merge, becoming the unified tale of Erik and Monroe.
As we become immersed in the life of Monroe, the discussion of alcohol’s drive and effects is chilling. Observing his deterioration, together with the harm to those around him, we become both fretful and angry at Monroe, wanting to yell out warnings, as we would to a pedestrian who missed a traffic signal. Now mix that with the addition of Erik, which is almost obsessively directed toward Monroe. The personal crises come near the novel’s beginning, and then the plot turns to the hard steps of a “cure“ and the growth of love between our heroes.
As this is a gay romance, there must at least be some sex! So, the reader is offered a detailed, non-penetrative amuse bouche early on, and, so we don’t forget the genre, again much later in the story. Finally, as with those tearful, near-virginal love movies on our secondary TV channels, real sex finally appears, to mark arrival at a happy ending.
Overall, we get to know and root for our heroes. They need each other, and they need to understand, and even forgive, themselves. But first this requires the ability for each stand on his own. It is a hard process, and the reader is in for a difficult but rewarding ride. It takes endurance to finally realize that each deserves to be loved, and the love each has to give is also worthy.