Benny Peters has always known where his life would lead. He would graduate high school, go to college in Vermont with his best friend Taylor, become a psychologist, and eventually settle down with a family. What he never expected was the timid kiss from Addy Dean at Camp Care while Benny was still his counselor. The most surprising thing happened that day. Benny wanted more. From Addy. But he wouldn’t take it, not then, not until Addy (who was working through some of his own issues at camp) sought the help he needed and healed somewhat. Months pass by and when the two meet again for Christmas at Taylor’s, there is a visible difference in Addy. It’s the first day of the relationship that will change their lives.
Addy Dean hasn’t had the easiest life. Things are finally looking up and he has his adoptive parents and Benny Peters to thank for that. But even though Benny is the white knight of everyone’s dreams, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his faults. And as perfect as Benny is, he’s still learning how to be in a relationship with a guy. When Addy and Benny take on Camp Care as counselors before their senior year, they encounter a difficult camper hell bent on making Benny his own.
Making it through the summer with a sex-crazed teenager on their heels is the least of their problems. When Benny and Addy return home and Addy goes to public school for the first time, insecurities arise and secrets are kept that threaten to destroy them. But when the past comes back to haunt Addy, neither insecurity or secrets matter because Benny will do anything to save Addy from himself, even when he couldn’t save him from the original danger.
Just wow. Will Parkinson gave a master performance with Wet Paint. A painful one at that. It’s difficult for me to say whether I liked this one more than I liked Pitch. They’re both powerful and precious stories on completely different levels. This book is both more stable in the relationship sense and hugely dramatic and full of angst. Parkinson makes this rollercoaster a ride to remember.
In my opinion, Addy is the star of this story. I had a feeling he would be when he was introduced in Pitch. The level of Addy’s issues is heart wrenching. His past, the things that made Addy who he is today, they’re devastating. Yet they formed him into one of the strongest kids I’ve ever read. And with him comes his amazing match in Benny. Benny is the white knight of Wisconsin. I’m not joking. From day one, the kid has stood up for the underdog and won. It’s why he and Taylor are friends. But as perfect as Benny is on the outside, we find out in this story that he has his faults and that makes him all the more endearing. I like his journey as the kid who thinks he needs to make everyone happy and protect everyone, to a kid who found his focus was about taking care of himself then the people he loves. One thing I love most about Benny is his idealism. He has his heart that doesn’t really change and it’s so different from Addy, who isn’t exactly jaded, but Addy’s seen a lot and been forced to grow up far sooner than he should’ve. Benny sees the good in everyone, even when no one else does. He’s kind and open. Addy has that same insight, though he has a tendency to see what’s underneath—the realness of a person. It’s the cause of some of their insecurities in the beginning. And man, that time was traumatic for me. Parkinson took me for a trip with these guys, and it hurt in such a good way.
This story hits a lot of hard subjects. Child abuse/molestation and rape being the biggest. I’m impressed at the level of sincerity and humility this author writes with. It’s tough to capture the realness of abuse in a character and still project their healing and growth, yet Parkinson finds that perfect balance here. There are also a few more… I don’t want to call them lesser issues, but less volatile issues that creep up in the story. Promiscuity in trade for companionship, bullying (which was a big part of the first book, so a smaller part of this one), and coming out are only a few of the points these guys hit on as they make their way along this journey.
And I guess I can’t move from this subject without mentioning Benny one more time. I’ve already gushed once, but I’m in love with the man Parkinson has created in this character. Benny Peters identifies the issues Addy is going through. He may not know everything when they first get together, but he realizes they have issues and he doesn’t push him into a physical relationship. Now, you may be asking yourself what kind of teenage boy doesn’t want sex? The boy who has only focused on graduating at the top of his class for as long as he can remember. The boy who has wanted nothing more than to keep his friends happy. So yes, where sometimes we may suspend disbelief for romance, I almost feel Benny is organic and real in his sincerity and character. His patience is refreshing and completely believable, and I love him all the more for it.
The ending, as they say, is a bit storybook, but after falling head over heels for these guys, I wouldn’t expect less from Benny. In fact, I probably would have been disappointed. And no, I’m not giving secrets away. So don’t ask.
I adored Addy and Benny. They were absolutely everything I’d hoped they’d be. As perfect as Benny has always been, I was expecting this to be an easy story, and it was far from easy. It was tearful and sweet at the same time, and it left me with a smile on my face. And there are so many possibilities for the next book. I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to most, but whatever comes next, I’m sure it will be as wonderful as the first two in this series. I highly recommend Wet Paint by Will Parkinson.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.