Author ~ Lynn Kelling
Publisher ~ Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Published ~ 17th May 2016
Genre ~ Dark Contemporary M/M Fiction
Evan Savage is a young teen desperately searching for something to hold on to and a way to be noticed. Living in rural Whippoorwill, Pennsylvania, his only family is an absentee father who leaves Evan alone for days at a time while away for work. Friendless and bullied at school, with only a nearby preacher named Jimmy to look out for him; Evan gratefully accepts attention wherever and however he gets it. Sometimes it feels like part of him is missing, and every day the void consumes more of Evan’s ability to fight back against his circumstances. While looking at himself in the mirror within a recurring dream, his reflection keeps reaching out to him with happiness he doesn’t feel, from a world different than his own, though much less tangible. Anonymous sexual encounters with strange men satisfy Evan’s need for company and reassurance that he’s someone worth wanting, as well as test his boundaries. But, faced with the growing temptation to slip away for good, it’s up to Jimmy, and Evan’s dream-world counterpart, to try to keep him there.
Trigger warnings: suicide, child sexual abuse.
While the Twin Ties series is a romance, this prequel contains none. This is where we meet 14 year old Evan Savage, four years before My Brother’s Lover starts. Over the course of the three Twin Ties books, I’ve come to love Evan even while I sometimes want to shake some sense into him. He is the heart of the series and his past has been outlined enough that we know how hard his life was as a lonely child and his mental state has always been precarious. This fills in the details in a horribly vivid light.
While his father travels for work, Evan is often left alone at home with nobody but his friend and neighbor Jimmy to check in on him. The loneliness consumes him. A cast out who is bullied at school, Evan feels he is nothing and no one would miss him if he didn’t show up or if he disappeared. He knows Jimmy cares and is a good friend and that his father does love him, but that is not enough to soothe the ache.
Evan aches for the mother he never had and a family that could have been. He is haunted by the realistic dreams of looking into a mirror and seeing a brighter, happier version of himself. He feels the pain of the pull of the twin brother he doesn’t know exists, but that his mind, heart and soul is still connected to.
He finds solace in chat rooms and hooking up with the older men he finds there. He’s aware of the danger, fearing it, but ultimately accepting the risk. He’s already risked everything with someone closer to home, what would it matter if they hurt him or he never came home? Evan is every predator’s dream. When the man he meets up with turns out to be attentive and seemingly caring about Evan’s well-being, he grasps at a glimmer of hope only to be cruelly disappointed once again.
Heartbreaking is the only word for this story. As short as it is, Lynn Kelling has managed to paint a gripping picture of a boy on the edge. Knowing what was going to happen didn’t sufficiently prepare me for the pain of reading the details of the events leading to Evan’s final downward spiral as he finally just gives up.
I think the impact of this prequel is stronger having already met Evan in the previously released books, but it would be just as painful and haunting to read if you start with it first. Lynn Kelling has an incredible talent for writing damaged characters with such empathy, you can’t help but be drawn into their lives, wishing you could save them from one bad decision after another. This is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed the Twin Ties books.
The Twin Ties Series
Book #2: Dual Affairs
Book #3: Double Heat
Meet Lynn Kelling
Lynn Kelling began writing in order to tell stories that aren’t afraid of the dark, don’t hold anything back and always strive to be memorable, forging lasting attachments between character and reader. Her inspiration comes from taking a closer look at behaviors and ideas lurking at the fringes of life—basically anything that people may hesitate to speak of in mixed company, but everyone wonders about anyway. Her work is driven by the taboo in order to expose the humanity within it. Lynn is an artist, designer and lover of any form of creative self-expression that comes from a place of honesty and emotion, whether it's body art or opera. She has had multiple novels published, has written over seventy works of erotic fiction of varying lengths, and always has several novels in progress. email: firstname.lastname@example.org