I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
You can also find me on my main blog.
Stuck in the closet, Asim, a firefighter, has spent the last 13 years not really living, still mourning the loss of his first love during 9/11, blaming himself for his boyfriend's death, as well as avoiding his family after having run from their homophobia and their attempts to marry him off to a "nice girl", as is tradition in his Muslim family. Still a teenager when he lost Steven, and never having gone beyond a few kisses, Asim is, when we first meet him, sort of but not really dipping his toes into being gay.
Plagued by vivid dreams and taking unnecessary risks at work, Asim comes off as tormented, lost and so very alone. From the start, he lodged himself in my heart, and I felt so much sympathy for him. He was wounded, alone, with nobody to help him find his way again.
Angel, a part-time nurse at the local hospital, is far out of the closet, father to a beautiful little girl, and still mourning the loss of his husband. He's grieving too, and certainly not looking to start a new relationship, as he believes that would betray his love for Zack, his late husband.
Asim and Angel meet at a mutual friend's place, and Angel immediately sizes up the other man as someone not worth his time. Because, clearly, Asim is closeted and hating himself for being gay, and Angel wants none of that.
Their path to a relationship is long and winded, with many setbacks, and neither character is initially ready to start again. There is a ton of drama and heartache in this book, and so much emotional baggage on both sides, that for a long time, their relationship is a dance of two steps forward, one step back. While I didn't dislike Angel, I did love Asim, and I wanted him to be happy. They are two very different people, with Asim being hesitant to come out to his fellow fire fighters and still very virginal, and Angel being very much out, flamboyant, a bit effeminate, and very unapologetic, but they also share common ground - they both have loved deeply and lost that love.
The author did a great job showing us their individual struggles, though I thought that the work issues raised here for Asim were possibly a bit much. The guy simply couldn't catch a break.
Both men also had lessons to learn, and they do. Those lessons help them to eventually move forward and realize that while they may have lost, and lost much, their lives do continue, and it is okay to keep going. I especially liked how very patient Asim was with Angel's waffling between wanting Asim and not wanting to hurt the memory of Zack. Asim encouraged Zack's pictures being displayed - he made it very clear that he wasn't interested in replacing the dead husband, and that he fully understood that Zack would always be a part of Angel. It took Angel a lot longer to understand that Asim too would always keep a part of Steven with him, too, and that it's okay to love again.
This being a romance, it does have a happy ending, but it's one that's hard fought for. They both learn and grow throughout this book, and face truths head=on they weren't necessarily prepared to face. That alone takes strength and character, and in the end, they both realize it was worth the struggle.
Recommended if you like heavy, angsty books with a lot of drama and a hard fought for happy ending.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **