I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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This was a difficult book to read, and it's just as difficult to write up a review for it.
Nash Summers' words are evocative. Her books are usually like a whirlpool of emotions, and they suck me right in.
This book was no different. It's heavy. Full of angst and pain, the physical and the emotional kind. And still, it didn't resonate with me like her other books have. I'm not entirely sure why, but this book just didn't work as well, for me, as the others I've read by her.
Scott Halleck is an art curator at a museum in Chicago. He lives a bland life, from his clothing choices to his choice in boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, Ryan is a really nice guy, but he's oh so wrong for Scott. He can't be what Scott needs, what Scott has denied himself, and eventually he knows it too. I couldn't find fault with Ryan at all - he was sweet and kind and caring, and he deserved so much better than what he got.
I didn't like Scott, and as his whole book is told from his POV, I didn't connect with the narrator on a level that could take me to a place where I understood him. I could understand his fascination with Julian completely - he was like a moth drawn to a flame - but I didn't understand what motivated him to deny himself time and again. I didn't understand why he feared getting involved with Julian. Well, that's not entirely true. I understood that his first encounter with someone who burned so brightly left him singed and hurt, but it was portrayed almost as a character flaw to want someone like that, instead of something that youth and inexperience propelled Scott to pursue, only to crash and burn with unrequited love. I wasn't quite sure that Scott was afraid of unrequited love in the option with Julian. He's an unreliable narrator, and we never really see, until we're told, what motivates Julian.
Julian, the love interest, is struggling. Not only with familial issues, but also with addiction, with the results of addiction, and he feels that he deserves the rough kind of sex he seeks, the resulting beatings and the bruises. I could understand his motives better, though the underlying reason to me seemed just slightly far-fetched.
The writing is gorgeous as usual, no mistake about that, but the characters in this book didn't do it for me. That may also be because this isn't really a romance, even though it's a love/hate story. And it's a thin line indeed between love and hate, both a brightly burning fire that can consume you completely.
Just because this didn't work for me, don't let that stop you from picking this up, though. Read Dani's review here to get a different picture. The author's immense writing talent is still there, in all of this book, and it's one reason I couldn't put this down until I finished, even though I struggled with the story overall.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **