Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
Ash and Pete become roommates through a mutual friend. Neither “knows” the other is gay (or bi) but both are crushing on the other.
Pete is stoic, works hard, plays a little, and is the perfect foil for Ash.
Ash is broken. He’s had a very, very hard life and we learn bits and pieces of it as the story develops. From an abusive childhood, to living on the street, to self-mutilation.
After a particularly bad night, Ash and Pete move their relationship forward and become lovers. It isn’t an easy road. Ash isn’t an “easy” boyfriend. But Pete is strong enough to handle almost anything – but not cheating.
Pete comes home one night and finds Ash in the arms of another man. He essentially kicks Ash out and doesn’t hear from him for weeks. Suddenly, Pete receives a call from a mutual health-care worker friend reporting that Ash is in the hospital and Pete is listed as his Emergency Contact.
When Pete finds Ash a new world of information opens up and he realizes there is more to Ash than he was led to believe.
Now it is up to the both of them to try to find a place where Ash can heal and Pete and Ash can find their place – as partners.
This is a book I put off reading for a long time. It looked so heavy. But it kept getting really amazing reviews and I knew I “wanted” to read it, but I needed to be in the right head-space for it. So… I waited until I was trapped in a car for a long drive and listened to the audiobook.
It didn’t disappoint on the “heavy” factor. It is a hard book to read(listen to). It is angsty and painful and tough. But… it is really good. The writing is excellent. The descriptions are rich and powerful. The MCs are fully developed and very three dimensional.
That being said… I didn’t love it. Though I could appreciate the writing and the world building and give those high marks, I didn’t really feel that attached to the relationship between the two MCs.
I know there is a sequel and I am planning on listening to it, and I have hopes that it will cement (for me) their bond and let me feel more for them as a couple than I do for them as individuals.
The narration was amazing! Michael Lesley who I first heard in Tell Me It’s Real is fantastic. His Ash is totally different from Pete and the emotions are well played and very real. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this (as far as entertainment value goes) and think that I was glad I waited for the audio version before tackling this book.
So: Writing 5 of 5 hearts, World Building 5 of 5 hearts, Storyline 4 of 5 hearts, Romance 2 of 5 hearts, Narration 5 of 5 hearts
Overall 4.2 hearts