Buy Link: Clear Water
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel

Rating: 5 stars

Patrick Clearly starts out Clear Water as sort of a mess. He is struggling to get his life together, get a job and go back to school, but his confidence is shot and he feels like he is always a failure. His father’s cold treatment doesn’t help matters and managing things with his ADHD is always a struggle. He is helped by his medication, but many folks (including his dad) don’t seem to realize how much he needs it.

People assumed that the drugs were a crutch, something that made keeping his brain on the right track easy, and that he was just lazy because he couldn’t focus. They didn’t understand that with the drugs, making little choices—listen or fidget, hear instructions or think about what he had for breakfast—became possible. He could see the little choices with the drugs—they were laid out for him as neatly as clothes folded on the bed, and all he had to do was take a breath and make a choice.

Without the drugs, his brain was one big hairy garage sale in the jungle, and he had no idea where to find anything, and sometimes, the sheer frustration just took over and made him a tense, whiny, squalling infant, even at the age of almost twenty-four.

Things go from bad to worse after Patrick is almost killed in an accident caused by his drug-dealing, jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Fortunately, he is rescued by Whiskey (“Because Wesley Keenan sounds like a science geek who can’t get laid”), a researcher studying frog anomalies and pollution in the local river. Whiskey is instantly drawn to the fragile Patrick, seeing beyond the mental chaos into the lovely, sweet man underneath.

Whiskey takes Patrick in to live on the houseboat with him and his fellow researcher and long-time friend, Fly Bait. Whiskey’s patience, constant support, and refusal to let Patrick think of himself as a fuck-up, slowly help Patrick build himself back together again. Patrick gains a new sense of confidence as he helps Whiskey and Fly Bait with their research, learning to love the simple life on the boat instead of the more spoiled, shallow life he had before. And he slowly comes to understand how shabbily his past boyfriends have treated him and how he deserves so much better.

I must say everyone needs a Whiskey in his life. He is loving, confident, caring, and fiercely protective. Whiskey is so endless patient with Patrick, even as he becomes more and more attracted to the man. He knows Patrick needs time to figure himself out, and never pushes Patrick for more than he is ready to give to their relationship.

One of the things I really liked is how we see that the relationship is not all one-sided. It is easy to tell how Whiskey affects Patrick for the better and how he helps Patrick find the confidence in himself. But Lane also shows how Patrick helps provide Whiskey with what he really needs — a home. After losing his parents as a young man, Whiskey has spent years moving around from project to project. He really yearns for a place to settle down and be a home and Patrick gives him that, both physically by renovating the houseboat and also emotionally as a person to settle down with and make a life.

I also loved how everything in the story is given a time to build. Time for Patrick to heal, time for him to grow into himself, time to rebuild his relationship with his father. Things never felt slow, but it felt so real not to just jump into a quick fix.

Lane does a great job handling Patrick’s ADHD. I am not particularly knowledgeable about it, but I could really get a feel for what Patrick was dealing with from her descriptions. This is a challenging topic and I think adults with ADHD is something many people are unfamiliar with. Lane indicates in the forward that she has experience with a child with the condition and she does an excellent job of showing Patrick’s struggle, along with highlighting all he is capable of achieving.

Clear Water was really such a wonderful book, I am not sure my review is doing it justice at all. I loved Patrick and Whiskey. Both are such wonderful men and they had such a beautiful relationship. And I loved how the two of them, along with Fly Bait, formed a little family out there on the water. Patrick’s growth throughout the story is just incredible and it is amazing to see how the combination of proper medication, along with support, love, and patience, can completely turn his life around.

Definitely a recommended read and one of my favorite books this year.

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