Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Review: Shelter by Ashley John

shelterTitle ~ Shelter

Author ~ Ashley John

Published ~ 11 October 2015

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





Fresh from his fourth stint in rehab, Elias James doesn’t have much to live for. His relationship with his family has never been so strained and with no real life of his own, he has nothing to live for. His overachieving twin sister and his ruthless mother's political success as Mayor of Havenmoore has left him empty. Getting high started as an act of rebellion but the addiction soon controlled his every waking moment.
Aspiring writer, Caden Walker, thought he had the perfect life until he discovered his boyfriend in bed with his best friend. Leaving everything behind in New York, he returns to Havenmoore to re-evaluate his life from his parent’s guest bedroom. When his mom offers him a job working for the charity she runs, helping people struggling with addiction, he’s not in a position to turn it down.
Caden never expected to find what he did, but when he is assigned to work with Elias, a reluctant attraction quickly blossoms into something deeper. Can Elias find in Caden the one thing he’s always searched for or will his addiction drag him under once again? Is Caden ready to let go of his New York dream to take a chance on something unexpected? Both men are faced with difficult times of change, but can they make it through the storm to find the shelter?


Debra’s Review

Out of his fourth stint in rehab for cocaine addiction, this time court ordered and coming after he nearly died of an overdose, twenty six year old Elias has lost hope. His mother, the mayor, has forced him into rehab and an outreach program and has set him up in an apartment, all to keep him out of prison, and therefore out of the public eye and disassociated from her and her career. The two have had no real relationship since he was a young child and she deemed him nothing but trouble, casting him aside and lavishing all her attention on his twin sister.

Elias’ twin sister Ellie is at her end too, having rescued him every time he has called, she loves her brother but is putting her foot down and pulling back. Her tough love includes banning Elias from contact with her six year old son. This is the first action that starts to really weigh on Elias and sparks him to consider straightening out his life. The second is his outreach case worker Caden.

Caden is twenty nine, but acts much older. He is having a bit of a life crisis, leaving New York City after having been cheated on by his boyfriend with his best friend, and failing to jump start his writing career. He is now back home, living with mom and dad and licking his wounds. He’s agreed to work for his mother’s outreach charity helping people with addiction to get back on their feet. It’s a job he has done before, but left when things didn’t go well with a client. He is reluctant to try again, but when he meets Elias something pulls at him and he is determined to help. He is also almost immediately fighting an attraction that he knows will be problematic and could cause harm to everyone involved.

Elias is a character I was pulling for from the start, just waiting for him to find his strength and worth. On top of all the heartache from his family and his addiction, he has been in the closet and never in a relationship. He is drawn to Caden and wants to let the man help him, but is not really in any state to make good decisions as he struggles to stay clean. Their attraction quickly ignites though, and Elias finds Caden to be a shelter from his demons, but worries he may be trading one addiction for another. I really felt for him and his struggles. The fact that his sister and his mother expect him to fail right from the start makes it even harder. It took me a little while to appreciate Caden, but he did manage to win me over. I really did like the romance between them and the way they fought for each other. The fact that Caden couldn’t resist Elias, even knowing how wrong it was, humanized him for me.

The other relationship that played out very nicely is that of Elias and Ellie. Although they grew up in the same house, they had very different childhoods. Ellie is pretty blind to everything Elias went through as she grew up being groomed and applauded by her mother as the perfect child. Even in the face of evidence of her mother’s behavior toward Elias, it is still hard for her to really see what is going on. Her love for her brother was always there even as she struggled with pushing him away at times for both their good. Their mother on the other hand was nothing but evil for seemingly no other reason than the quest for power and status.

There were a few things that did manage to draw me away from the story however. Elias and Ellie are 26 so there is no way she could have been such an established doctor. She would still be, at most, in her residency yet she’s the town’s best doctor. It’s also a recurring plot point that Elias’ existence is a pretty big secret as far as the “tight-knit town where everybody knew everyone’s business” is concerned, however he spent most of his life there, going to school with his sister and being a trouble maker. I just could not believe that most of the people did not know he existed. I also thought that the mother’s actions at the end were too abrupt and out of nowhere after she was shown to be such a cruel, self-absorbed, uncaring character.

Ashley John did a good job with the personal relationships and I especially liked the way he wrote Elias. The hurt comfort angle really worked for me, but I would have liked to see more attention paid to the details that made up the background of the characters and the storyline.


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