They Byte of BetrayalRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novella

Caleb McDonnell works a fast food job he doesn’t particularly like, but his great joy comes from his tiny studio apartment and talking on the internet.  He met his best friend Kevin online.  He’s shared everything with Kevin, even though he’s never met the man.  He also spends a lot of time online talking to Nic, for whom he has a romantic interest, though he’s never been brave enough to tell him.

Nicodemus Rokos considers what he and Caleb have been doing as dating.  Though his best friend Natalie was badly burned by an internet romance gone wrong, Nic has faith it’s not like that between him and Caleb.  However, when Natalie finds out that Kevin is not who he seems, Nic knows he has to tell Caleb about it, even though he realizes  it will crush Caleb to find out his best friend is a fake.  Caleb is in fact devastated by the news and disappears from the internet.  When Nic finds out the truth about why Natalie went snooping around online, he’s incensed.  But more than that, he’s worried beyond belief that Caleb hasn’t been heard from and is ignoring Nic’s texts and calls.  Trying to make amends, Natalie gets Caleb’s address and sends Nic off to check on Caleb.

Meeting Nic in person, and knowing he’s actually real, helps Caleb to begin to heal.  But there’s a lot of hurt and trust has been broken.  And Caleb is scared that he’ll ruin what he and Nic are tentatively rebuilding when he reveals the truth about his past.  The question soon becomes, can Caleb take that step and trust again?

This novella is a part of Dreamspinner’s Mended Daily Dose, and I can tell you it fits the hurt/comfort theme to a T.  Caleb’s emotional hurt is so raw and visceral.  My heart just hurt for him, and I wanted to wrap him up in a great big hug. He’s had a really hard life, and he’s finally feeling somewhat stable when the world as he knows it is brought to ruins.  Doyon did an excellent job relating his pain, and it was very believable.

I loved Nic, though.  This is a truly kind and goodhearted man.  He’s a caretaker, and he’s the perfect one to swoop in and help Caleb put the pieces back together.  His patience was wonderful, and I really felt he understood where Caleb was coming from.  And he was willing to do whatever Caleb needed to rebuild that trust.

That being said, there was a lot going on in this relatively short novella, and I thought that some of the things were a bit over the top.  Natalie’s reasoning behind snooping, and thus discovering Kevin was a fake, were selfish and horrible.  Where at first she seemed a sympathetic character, in the end I ended up hating her.  And then there the truth about Caleb’s past.  Personally, I felt it was unnecessary and that the story would have worked just as well without it.

Overall, though, I liked it.  The author managed to pack a lot of feelings into a relatively short word count.  If you like reading angst and hurt/comfort, then put this one on your list.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

kris signature