Author ~ C.L. Etta
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 2nd January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Two years ago Mico and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mico a quadriplegic—and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archaeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive, with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.
Assigned to interview Mico and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the fragile enigmatic man. Mico is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mico is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mico, and he’s determined to show Mico that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mico’s existence.
If you enjoy romantic tales of heartbreak turned to hope, the life-affirming story of Danny and Mico will make you believe in the possibility of love for everyone—no matter what obstacles they face.
On the whole, the story was fresh and heart-warming. My sympathy was immediately aroused for Mico and stayed with him throughout. The book led in nicely but the interview fell a bit flat at the start. I felt talked at, and that feeling persisted throughout the book. There were quite a few pages of stiff language that felt a bit monotone, before Danny picked up the plot and started giving us details about Mico’s tone, facial expressions etc. It would have been nicer if that had been scattered more through the story from the start.
Strange use of tenses. The main part of the story is in third person past tense. Then there are flashbacks from all the characters which are written in first person present. I found it jarring and it wasn’t always correct. I can see why it was done, and from a creative point of view I think it was a good idea, I just don’t think it worked, although I did like the way different characters brought different perspectives to the same situation.
My favourite thing about the book is the banter between the MC’s. Not just Danny and Mico but especially Randy and Adrian. Randy’s speech is…unusual but I like it very much, apart from his tendency to shorten everyone’s name to a single letter. His history is shocking but I still empathise with him. It’s quite an accomplishment to reveal a shocking truth about a character but keep the reader engaged with him. Adrian is a total sweetheart and his jokes about seeing are touching and funny all at the same time. His relationship with Randy is inspirational.
There was a certain naivety to the writing, showing mainly in the dialogue. I had little problem with it, as I have always placed the story over the technicality. The storytelling is superb. The story is an important one and unravels at a leisurely pace. Even when something utterly shocking happens, it’s absorbed into the pleasant patchwork, that encompasses it and rolls on, like an old, beloved quilt whose holes and bare patches take nothing away from the overall beauty.
I have to admit that there was a fair bit of purple prose and it got carried away with itself at times. There are many occasions when what the boys say really don’t mesh with the type of people they are. This was annoying sometimes but I’m a romantic at heart and let it sweep me on. I think others might have more of a problem with it, but it’s mainly at high energy moments which should set them in a context that most find acceptable.
One thing that is very consistent and meshes well with their ages and characters is that Danny is so impulsive he buys a house to move in with Mico before he even asks him. That has interesting repercussions.
I love the way the whole family rallies around and closes ranks when needed, and sometimes when not needed. Of them all, I think Adrian is my favourite. His quiet steadfastness is a calming influence on everyone and is a guide rail through the high emotions that often rise up. He’s sweet, sensitive and has had his own cross to bear which he’s done with grace, and now he’s a foil for everyone else’s angst. When Adrian gets upset everyone knows things are going to hell in a handbasket.
This is a very emotional book with highs and lows; good and bad throughout. It’s definitely a tear-jerker, but in an inspirational way. The ending gives the heartstrings a good, hard tug and makes them sing. I’d forgive almost anything for the ending, even though it was as preachy as Danny’s dad. I can’t believe how restrained everyone is all the time. There’s no real ranting or angry outbursts. Even when people are yelling they seem to do it quietly.
All in all, I definitely recommend this book to people who like sweet, but unusual, romances. The fact that Mico is quadriplegic raises complications and obstacles for the two of them to get over and it gives a lot of weight to the story. It would have been easy to skate over the difficulties or minimise the effects of his disability on both Mico and the other characters, but the gory details are all there but subtle enough to be absorbed into the story and almost as invisible as Mico’s ventilator becomes to Danny.
Because of the dodgy dialogue I have to give it 3.5* but the storytelling itself – the story, the way it unfolds, the characterisation, depth, description, detail, weight etc – merits a 4* - 4.5* If you’re not too picky with your structure and are in it only for the story this book will blow you away