Meeting at a party during their first year of college, Todd and Kyle are instantly attracted to each other. Todd has had no experience with men and Kyle is only slightly ahead of him in experience. They fall hard for each other and share a deep love. Kyle is estranged from his family and the guys find everything they need within each other. There is no doubt in either of their minds that they will spend their lives together. They have all kinds of plans made and Kyle will be spending the summer with Todd and his family. Then Kyle disappears without a trace, leaving Todd heartbroken.
Fifteen years later, Todd is a successful psychiatrist. He has never dealt with and certainly never moved past what happened to Kyle. He has not been able to move on to have any kind of substantial relationship and remains alone and haunted by his past. When a violent patient with amnesia arrives at the hospital, Todd has to dig deep into the past and finally look for the answers to questions that seem impossible.
This is a very complex story, although it does not start out that way. The guys meet and are so sweet with each other in the will-you-be-my-boyfriend sweet kind of way. They experience many firsts together and their first sexual experience together is written in a realistic manner, although some of their dialogue is not indicative of college guys. The guys become everything to each other in a short amount of time. The story is told from Todd’s perspective and since he is a subdued guy, there is just a little something during this time that did keep me from fully connecting to the guys emotionally, although this half of the story is enjoyable to read overall.
The second half of the story brings us fifteen years after Kyle disappears. This part of the story has a completely different feel from the first half. Todd is emotionally disconnected from life at this point, which makes him somewhat removed to read about. With the exception of his mother and his best friend’s wife, Todd does not particularly care for women. Every time a female character appears on page we get a description of what Todd does not like about her, which becomes tiresome to read. When the police were of no assistance after Kyle disappeared, Todd never looked further into what could have happened to Kyle. There had been absolutely nothing going on in Kyle’s life that would have led Todd to believe that Kyle just left. Todd uses a private investigator for his practice so him never looking for details is difficult to fully understand. When he is finally prompted to look further into what happened, the investigator finds information quickly, which had me questioning how much of this would be available fifteen years later. And, not all of the information corresponds to Kyle’s college lifestyle.
With this second part, the issue is that I had more questions and holes than story to grab onto. Todd and Kyle spend all of their time together and were going to spend the summer together. At the end of the school year, Todd stays with friends instead of at Kyle’s apartment, which makes no sense other than to set up the disappearance. We are in a very contemporary story and then there is a heavy futuristic, sci-fi angle that is added in that did not fit in with the theme of the story. While the sci-fi testing is incredibly interesting on its own, it did not yield a whole lot more information than they were able to find without it. The psychiatric hospital itself is another issue. There were so many things wrong going on there, and yes there are stories of violent hospital incidents, but Todd is way too passive and just allows situations with devastating consequences to happen around him.
There is no happy ending here in the romance book world of happy endings. The author adds a note at the end of the book stating that he wrote the story that he could believe in. I can completely appreciate that as it is not the lack of happy ending on its own that is the issue. The story ends on a very somber note that is heartbreaking and real. There is a sad, small glimmer of hope for Todd to be able to move on, but his life is forever tied to Kyle and some things in life are impossible to fully move on from as they become who you are. The ending further illustrates that Kyle never had any intention of leaving as he gets the last word. This is the story that the more I think about it, the more questions I have as there are so many loose story threads that are not tied up. Ultimately, this is the story of what was, what could have been, what happened, and what just is. And, I will leave you with that.