In the months following, Hawk had found the pain crippling and of absolutely no benefit to him. Nights had been the hardest, alone in his hammock without the sweet nuzzle of John’s kisses, and he’d told himself, never again. Over the years, he’d fucked some men. But his lips never touched theirs, his hands never lingered over bared skin. He never held them close and slept as one.
This will likely be one of the most difficult reviews I have written…at least in the top 3. But one I feel important to write. There is absolutely no doubt that for a debut novel this one was one I wanted desperately to love. And while there is undoubtedly talent to this Author, regretfully this one fell short for me.
He turned from me and looked down to where I still held his hand. Again, he whispered, “Then why am I always alone?”
The sadness in his voice cut me to the core. I didn’t want it to be there. I wanted to take that pain from him, erase it, make it disappear.
I let go of his hand and placed it on his cheek, gently turning him to face me again. “Because you were waiting for me, and just didn’t know it. Just as I’ve been waiting for you. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone again.”
I lied when I said I had him. The truth was, he had me.
Beautiful writing. Beautiful writing indeed. So don’t for a minute believe that I have any doubts as to this Author’s potential. It is great. And yet what this Author seems to be lacking is structure and organization. What this Author seems to need is a mentor who can help guide this talent on its path to greatness. I want this for him…because, as I said, he has what it takes to be great.
Now a writer I am not. But I am a designer. Am I a great designer? No. Do I need critique and the ability to bounce ideas off others. Absolutely. And finding this critique is likely better coming from a wide range of sources. For example if I am designing a school, I need critique not only from other Architects, but teachers, students, parents, janitors, etc. People to look at my design from all aspects. If I have looked at my design too long, I can become blind and can many times not see what is right in front of me. Plus my design can become too personal. It is my baby. I have poured my heart into it. So it is hard to accept critique. But if I am to learn and get better it is a critical part to the process of improving my art.
So for me, this book lacked that critique from all angles. This book has the bones. It has the potential. And there were scenes so beautifully written that I felt the love. The scene with Greg and David was absolutely my favorite. The first kiss and first sexual encounter between David and Adam was beautifully captured. Tender and lovely. But there was way too much going on and too many holes left unfilled that at the end of the book just become frustrating for me as a reader. And writing dual POV only to play some scenes from both POVs becomes repetitive, regardless of the different emotions felt. Much of the internal dialogues throughout became repetitive as well to the point that I felt I was being drilled with details like I had a memory issue.
Lucas. This character was completely unnecessary as was this storyline. We missed all interactions between him and Adam regarding the comic books. We lacked their connection, something I am sure could have been beautiful. And I am not a doctor nor do I have children with leukemia, but can a child begin treatment and within 2 months be in remission?? And where the hell was this boy’s mother? Just many doors opened for this storyline that wrapped up in a single sentence at 95% or had holes left unfilled.
Adam. A veteran with 4 tours of duty in Afghanistan, and yet other than knowing this and him having a brother he loves, I really know very little about him. A tattoo of such beauty is mentioned early on and yet we never got any details as to the meaning behind it. He is a protective and loving person and yet we got very few heart to heart moments between him and his brother and nephew. Many moments lost here to help show the heart of this man.
Greg. I loved this character to pieces and as I stated above the exchange between him and David was perfect. Yet to learn that this man has a brother that has he never tried to track down? Ugh. Really? Perhaps this opened a door to a future novel and Michael will take on this challenge next. I can only hope.
David’s Dad. This storyline became frustrating for me as a reader. We knew early on that this man’s release from prison was going to take an emotional toll on David. That he feared this man and his past. And yet instances of lights being on which later go unacknowledged; David pondering who could have called him at work built suspense that never went anywhere; and then David wondering for paragraphs who could have been in his apartment. Ummm. We all knew and yet he needed to ponder something that so clearly was his biggest fear.
David's Mother. I hope this woman is enjoying hell. What she did was inexcusable.
And finally, David. I fell hard for this sweet guy. But at a certain point I become aggravated. I mean what could you have possibly done?? This is so drawn out that you just feel it should be something really terrible and yet when it is finally revealed, it didn’t hold the impact it should have. I think if more had been told earlier, it would have helped me understand this character on another level. Instead I just began to pull away and lose the connection I had to him.
Maybe I am being over critical. But as a reader too many things just felt off. Felt disjointed. I mean I loved these two guys and felt the heart the Author poured into them. But much of becoming a successful author is about not only writing great scenes but learning to weave that writing into a compelling and telling story. And when storylines get introduced, even side ones, they must be seen through completely.
Again, I have ZERO doubts as to this Author’s abilities and I see this first novel as a stepping stone to greatness. He just needs to learn to structure these scenes and moments in a way that can bring those beautiful words into a cohesive story. I look forward to seeing more from this Author and how he continues to grow in his talent.
He didn’t do anything inappropriate but his touch, whether it was the hand on his thigh or when he draped his arm across the couch and drew circles on the exposed skin of his neck with his fingertips, spread chill bumps across Alex’s skin making his skin feel alive and sensitive. It was all innocent, except to Alex’s body, because it felt like Kelley was playing him like an instrument. Tweaking and strumming and fine tuning it to hit every note in a song only Kelley knew.
I have to say I was not sure what to expect from this at all. I rarely read reviews and even find myself avoiding blurbs. But I had met Morningstar Ashley at GRL and have since interacted with her on Facebook. So picking up her book seemed like a logical step. But what if I hated her book? It is a difficult position to be in as a reader when you become acquaintances with authors on FB. But in the end, I had to dive in and I am so thankful that I did, because this was better than I ever could have expected.
First off, as a debut novel, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed overall by not only the story itself but the writing style. Yes, for me there were some inconsistencies in some timing of a few things, the lack of understanding about this intern program (which frankly was unnecessary) or paragraphs that did not seem to flow as smoothly as others, but regardless, these moments were few and far between. In the end it was the emotional connection made, not only between these characters but the connection made between these characters and me as the reader. I fell in love with Kelley, Alex and Evie.
Kids in books can be a challenge, but sweet Evie never felt anything but real for me. And as a parent with a child with high anxiety I could relate to this sweet child. And the fact that she doesn’t miss anything is absolutely true. Kids are perceptive on a level some adults never give them credit for.
Alex’s internal struggles were beautifully captured and told. Morningstar dealt with these mental challenges amazingly well and I felt ever barrier that was built up over the years and understood quite well the reasons. I loved how Kelley had glimpsed years ago the smile and life that was Alex and could see that he was buried under years of grief and internal abuse as he denied himself true emotion.
I do wish we could have had less of Kelley’s work and more about him. I know nothing about his personal story other than his friends. Had he even dated anyone in the past at all? Are his parents living? If these things were said, they were definitely in passing. But regardless, his caring and “mother hen” persona was just so well matched to Evie and Alex.
And the sex…good gawd. I absolutely loved the sexual connection between these two. These scenes were so hot but at the same time so emotionally driven that I loved every moment. I do wish we could have avoided the time jump at the very end and had a few more steamy scenes…but hey…I will take what I can get.
So what is next? I have to say if Morningstar is not already writing Peter’s story I will begin hounding her now for this book. I am fascinated and intrigued by this man for sure!!
Oh and for what it is worth...the paper plate scene will be one I remember for years to come. Sweet Kelley. LOL