Rating: 5 stars
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Cedric Haughton-Disley suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is almost crippling, affecting his ability to interact with others, to tolerate touch, and even to leave his home. Things must be perfectly spaced and aligned, he is terrified of germs, can only tolerate being around people for three hours at a time, and is forced to resort to counting (or puking) when things get too much for him. But Cedric is determined to live life the best he can. He wants to interact with people and maybe even find love, though he can scarcely imagine finding someone who will be able to deal with his myriad of issues.
Two years after the end of his marriage, Kevin Morrison is finally able to accept and act on his attraction to men. While he still cares for his ex wife and loves his kids like crazy, Kevin realizes that during his marriage he was hiding from who he really is. But finding the right guy is hard. Kevin isn’t interested in hook ups; he wants a real relationship, but hardly knows where to start.
When Kevin and Cedric have a chance meeting, there is an instant connection between them. And when they meet again, the feelings are just as strong. But there are many barriers in the way. Age differences, financial disparities, and Cedric’s role in the company where Kevin hopes to work all complicate matters. And of course, Cedric’s condition makes things incredibly difficult. He needs to be mentally prepared for any interaction with others. Intimacy with Kevin means showers first and multiple condoms and sometimes even gloves. Sometimes Cedric needs to be left completely along to hold off stress and avoid a panic attack. But through it all, Kevin remains a committed partner. He is willing to learn about Cedric’s needs, to accept the complicated requirements for their relationship, to have patience and understanding even in the face of highly frustrating situations.
As the men spend more time together, Cedric finds more success dealing with his OCD, but things are never going to improve completely. Kevin must also deal with coming out, introducing Cedric to his kids and his ex, and trying to sort out his life in the midst of so many changes. And Cedric must do his best to adjust to having someone be a part of his life and accept that Kevin really cares for him and wants to be together. These guys have totally fallen for one another, but will the challenges they face in being together end up being too much for them?
Oh, I just loved this one you guys. Donovan creates a fascinating and engrossing story here and two amazing characters in Kevin and Cedric. There is so much depth to both of these guys, such great layers to their personalities. I especially loved Cedric, with his incredible strength in the face of so much inner turmoil. And of course Kevin is a total sweetheart, supportive and loving and really willing to take those extra steps to be the partner Cedric needs. Even with all the limitations these guys face in their physical relationship, the chemistry between them is amazing. In fact, one of the hottest scenes is when Kevin uses Cedric’s need to time their physical contact and turns it in to some sexy foreplay. And emotionally they are wonderful together, both willing to do whatever they can to take care of their partners, even in the face of their own struggles.
One thing I particularly liked is the portrayal of Jenny, Kevin’s ex wife. We have all read so many m/m romances featuring the evil ex or the horrible mother (or some other variation on the terrible female.) I really loved that we see Jenny as a loving and supportive part of Kevin’s life. Despite their divorce, they are still partners in their child rearing and true friends. She is a source of support for him and sticks up for Kevin as he faces difficulty in his coming out process. And I especially liked that she is not totally perfect. Sometimes she reacts badly or doesn’t handle things well, just like a real person would. But she still is a good, caring woman and an important part of Kevin’s life.
In fact, this sense of realism really extends well to all these characters. Donovan recently talked about this during a guest post on the blog, and I think she succeeded wildly here. I love that despite the fact that Kevin is an amazing man and an incredibly supportive partner, sometimes he reacts badly or handles things wrong or has angry thoughts. I like that he is not a saint, close to it sometimes, but not. The same holds true for Donovan’s portrayal of Cedric and his condition. Despite the medication and the therapy, and the support of Kevin and his friends, Cedric still will never be totally healthy. These things are helping, and we see him make great strides over the course of the book, but he will never be fully cured. And I especially love that despite that, we still see an amazing happy ending for these guys.
I am also impressed with how well Donovan’s gets the details of Cedric’s condition, and how well she captures that helpless feeling when you know the behavior may be irrational but you can’t seem to stop it. I have some OCD tendencies as well, fortunately much less severe than Cedric’s, but many that are along that same family tree, mostly focused on order, balance, and alignment. I have to go up and down the grocery aisles in the same order every time (up certain aisles, down others) or it makes me nuts. My gym mat needs to line up parallel to the lines on the floor. My pillow needs to be at least two inches from the headboard. My shoelaces need to be evenly tight. And right now I am fussing with the fact that the towel I am lying on isn’t perfectly aligned with the back of my chair (I could go on but I don’t want to scare you any more than I already have). So I get that feeling of irrational compulsion, and how sometimes not addressing it can be so distracting as to be unable to concentrate on anything else. And I really think Donovan nails it well here and her research really shows and makes the story incredibly rich and well developed.
So I really thought this was an amazing book and I just loved it. Donovan does so many things so well here and I enjoyed it all. I definitely would highly recommend Disasterology 101. It is fascinating and warm and romantic all wrapped up in one.
P.S. There is still one more day to enter to win a copy of Disasterology 101. Stop by Taylor’s guest post and leave a comment to enter.