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Young Stevie Liston is diagnosed with autism, but is really an overwhelmed empath who mentally called out for help. Jesse McKinnon heard him in a dream from clear across the country, and that dream sent him on a six-year search to find Stevie. Once they meet, they think everything will work out and Jesse will help Stevie cope.
Stevie does improve immensely, but a disgruntled coworker of Jesse’s conspires with Stevie’s estranged but politically powerful father to keep Stevie and Jesse apart with trumped-up legal charges claiming Jesse sexually abused the boy. Jesse must watch helplessly as Stevie loses all the advances he’s made.
If it wasn’t for his growing relationship with his coworker Drew Ferguson, Jesse knows he wouldn’t have the strength to fight for his rights and Stevie’s future. Drew just might be the real thing, but with the very real possibility of serving jail time for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesse’s hopes for a future with Drew might be doomed.
Jesse has been finding 10 year old Stevie lost in the woods for the last six years – in his dreams. He finally finds him in the real world in a home for special needs children. Stevie is both autistic and an empath and Jesse has been able to reach through to him in a way nobody else has, ever.
Together, Jesse and Stevie work to help make Stevie’s world livable by creating mental barriers to all the emotion that bombards Stevie at every moment.
As though that weren’t tough enough… Chuck, an attendant in the children’s home, has it out for both Stevie and Jesse. Stevie’s long lost father is suddenly back in the picture and making waves that could separate Stevie and Jesse. Someone wants to cause trouble and nearly kills Stevie in a fire. Suddenly, Jesse is facing a law suit for child endangerment and worse!
Oh, and Jesse and Drew are friends who become lovers.
I find myself having a hard time reviewing this book for several reasons. I try very hard to be as constructive in my criticism as possible and to allow for all sorts of tastes and interests to create a wide variety of styles and tastes.
First and foremost, this is only very, very loosely a romance. Jesse and Drew do become lovers and later partners but that occupies less than 10% of the story’s breadth. That in and of itself brings the book down in my estimation ONLY because I thought I was reading a romance and that is really not the main point of this story.
Though the story about Jesse and Stevie finding one another and connecting is a beautiful one – it is not a romance. I did love this part of the story. The vaguely supernatural elements driving Jesse to find Stevie was intriguing and the way Jesse could reach Stevie and help him navigate his challenges was wonderful and very touching. For this I’m willing to give the story some credence because the writing about this was wonderful and the relationship Jesse and Stevie formed was amazing.
What made me give this story such a poor rating was the absolutely ludicrous plot line surrounding Stevie’s biological father and his cohort. I never understood how someone as foul as Chuck would have ever gotten nor retained a job working with challenged children. Nope. Never. He was a douche-nozzle extraordinaire and no way would anyone allow him near a kid – ever. Then there’s the dad. Why did he even buy into Chuck’s line of BS? What could he possibly gain by ruining Jesse? How would that help his campaign? And who in their right mind would believe Jesse was ever doing anything to hurt Stevie? That entire plot just didn’t make any sense and it brought this lovely story about love and learning and disability to that of a second-rate soap opera.
While the writing was fine and the characters (for the most part) were engaging and the storyline between Jesse and Stevie was awesome – I could not let go of my disbelief in the rest of the story – and that overshadowed my enjoyment of this story. Add to it that the “romance” was barely a thing at all and I was thoroughly disappointed with this book.
If you ignore the romance aspect and are willing to take the rest of the story with a giant grain of salt then the lovely story of a relationship that we see develop between two empathic individuals is a good one.
2 of 5 hearts