Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Received From: Review copy from the author
He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.
After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.
Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.
Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
TROPES: hurt/comfort, class disparity
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, Chinese character, Asian character, POC character, Chinese author, Asian author, POC author, interracial romance, ownvoices
WARNINGS: ableism, anti-queer, vomiting, mental illness (PTSD, claustrophobia, depression), addiction, alcoholism, racism, parental death mention, cancer mention, slutshaming, explicit flashbacks/nightmares, anti-ace phrasing, queer bashing mention, queer death mention, cissexism/anti-trans phrasing, child abuse mention, therapy, car accident, hospitalization, physical injury
He leaned sideways on the couch and propped his arm so he could comb his fingers through the freshly dried auburn hair, downy soft. Cam tilted his head, turning into Ty’s hand, and his heart lurched at the small movement.
As the blurb indicates, this book is really intense. It’s a deep look at trauma, of multiple varieties, and how it affects each person in similar in different ways. Both main characters exhibit signs of past trauma, though Cam’s are certainly more at the forefront of both his mind and the novel. From the very beginning of the novel, it’s clear that he’s actively trying to repress the awful things he’s seen and experienced during his time as a United Nations Aid Worker. And from the very same moment, it’s abundantly clear that this man is about to crash and burn. HARD. Emotional distress runs rampant within the novel, and I couldn’t stop the desire to reach inside the pages and save these two from themselves.
I really enjoyed the way Ty and Cam’s relationship developed and how easily they fell into caring for each other. There are several large bumps in the road that mess them up from time to time, but honestly, it’s evident really early on that these two are good for each other. And it was so interesting to watch them struggle, separately and together, to figure out how this relationship can fit into their lives, to figure out what is important to them and what lengths they’re willing to go to get what they want.
Also, I enjoyed most of the secondary characters, especially Izzy, Cam’s sister. She was a force to be reckoned with from the moment she stepped on the page, and I loved how intensely she loved and cared for her brother, as well as the friendship that developed between her and Ty after they bonded over their feelings for Cam. Busker, Cam’s therapy dog, and Dr. Brown, Cam’s therapist, were also pieces of the story I enjoyed, and I liked seeing the therapy scenes and the progress Cam was making. The only character I didn’t like was Carey Davis, Cam’s childhood friend, who was unnecessarily antagonistic to Ty for the whole novel.
This book, though, has a wonderful plot and cast of characters that Lin did an amazing job weaving together, and I look forward to checking out more of her work!
Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often-times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.
Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.
When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the nine-to-five in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.
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