Author ~ Teodora Kostova
Published ~ 18th April 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
I went to war, running away from myself. I came back in pieces to find out who I really was...
It took me nearly ten years, two tours in Afghanistan and losing a leg to come to terms with who I really am.
Two years after coming back from war, I can say that I’m finally content. I’m as fit as ever, my prosthetic leg allowing me the freedom of moving and exercising as if nothing has changed. I own a small bakery in the centre of Cambridge, and I have a loyal circle of friends that I can always count on.
Yet, there’s something missing. A part of me craves the intimacy, the deep connection to another human being. But another – bigger – part of me is terrified of letting anyone in.
My internal conflict didn't stand a chance when I met Jay. He stormed through my defence walls like a hurricane, wrapping around me with gentle force until I had no choice but to surrender.
Surrendering has never felt so good.
Will Jay want to stay when he sees the real me? When he sees the nightmares and insecurities clawing at my soul?
My name is Amir Gopal and this is my story.
This is a character driven romance between Amir, a war veteran now running a growing bakery business and Jay, a beautiful college student who seems to have it all together. The story a lot lighter than the blurb suggests, angst-free with minimal outside drama, considering the subject matter of Amir’s situation. When the story starts Amir has been back from his final deployment for several years and has mostly come to terms with the physical and emotional scars he’s been left with. This is not the story of his recovery, but the story of accepting that he is worthy of being loved as the man he has become.
Although Amir has taken to his prosthesis and his body scars are as healed as they will get, he has yet to really get out into the dating world, assuming anyone he might want to get close to would be disgusted by his body. His scarring is extensive and there is a mention that he has covered some of it with tattoos. Amir still has some PTSD triggers, but that also seems to be mostly under control. His friends worry more about his love life than he does; Amir has his growing bakery business and spends all spare time with his therapy dog at the veterans’ rehab center that helped him so much when he returned home.
When Jay shows up at his bakery, Amir is instantly taken and turns on the charm. They flirt and Amir slips Jay his number, but Amir is affected by Jay as he’s never been by anyone before and as soon as Jay leaves, his mind flies between euphoria and panic. It turns out however, that Jay is just as beautiful inside as he is on the outside. He’s smart, caring and everything Amir fears he isn’t, which just fuels his insecurities and the thoughts that he’s not worthy. Amir is so drawn to him that he can’t help feeling possessive and jealous even before their first real date.
The book’s focus really is on Amir. Although Jay struggles with breaking free from his father’s plans for his future and appears to have had some bad relationships in the past that isn’t really a big stumbling block to the relationship. Amir is his own worst enemy. He won’t allow himself to trust Jay even though Jay has clearly fallen for him fast and hard and that’s really the biggest point of contention in the story.
Teodora Kostova is a new to me author. While her writing style worked for me and I enjoyed the romance between the two men, there were some spots that left me wondering. Although we only get Amir’s POV, I found Jay to be a well-rounded character as well. He goes for what he wants and with the exception of dealing with his father, he doesn’t hold back in voicing his needs. He came off as a bit unsure at first, but we never really know why and he eventually appears to get over it. There was good chemistry between the two men and I liked how Amir’s insecurities were dealt with and the beauty of the moments when Jay shows him that he loves everything about Amir and that the scars are just a part of that. I understood Amir’s struggles and insecurities, but towards the end it seemed his inability to move forward in certain areas didn’t make a lot of sense after the relationship had progressed so far.
There were a couple interesting secondary characters and stories including Jay’s roommate Cedric, who seems to have a lot of issues with both Amir and Jay, as well as Jay’s friends Shane, who runs the rehab center and Greg, his best friend who is still on deployment with the RAF. Cedric’s disdain is never really explained and although there is a reference to Jay and him talking things out at the end, I felt like I missed something there. Shane and Greg’s story also got pretty serious but I was left hanging there as well. These characters played a big part in the story, but the way their plots were left open left me to wonder if this is part of a planned series.
This was an enjoyable, quiet romance. Jay and Amir’s relationship was sweet and sexy and felt real. I was also invested in the secondary characters, but ultimately the story left me wanting a bit more. If this is set to be the start of the series I would love to see what plays out between Shane and Greg. This was my first story by the author, but Amir and Jay’s date to the theater definitely piqued my interest in her previous books and I look forward to picking them up soon.
Meet Teodora Kostova
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband and my son. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had the guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a very inventive kid. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org