I’m not quite sure how to begin this review of Prodigal by Lexi Stone. On the one hand, it was a sweet and moving love story surrounding two very lost individuals who could not willingly shed their lifestyles to embrace something more risky. On the other hand, it seemed almost like an abusive relationship, one in which Jamie was deliberately cutting and mean to Shea and did everything he could to push him away. I could have handled this dynamic, except there were many assumptions made by both characters after literally 24 hours. Unfortunately, they simply were not believable even in an insta-love trope setting, which I am not certain this novel was based on. For instance, Shea assumes he knows what Jamie is thinking and is understanding of the man’s gruff and unkind responses. After a mere twenty four hours I am not sure anyone can make that kind of assessment. But let me begin with the synopsis and go from there.
Shea has returned to the old cabin his father loved and often brought the family to for vacations. As Shea’s dad succumbed to cancer, the cabin was sold off and his father’s dying wish was for Shea to return there and say goodbye to the old place one last time for his dad. What Shea did not count on was another intruder using the cabin and that he would be drawn to the man, instantly. Jamie is a travelling soul, never staying in one place for very long and pursuing odd jobs to stay alive. He is a writer, and though he has many stories finished, he is afraid to publish for he has grown attached to his lack of roots and wears it like a shield against getting close to anyone.
When these two meet, they affect one another in ways that neither could ever imagine. Can Jamie abandon his need to drift and wander and really love Shea? Can Shea let go of dreams that really were not his but his father’s and let loose long enough to trust Jamie with his heart?
Prodigal explores how fully entrenched we can become in adopting a role that effectively hides who we really are. Jamie uses snark and sarcasm to belittle Shea on a regular basis, all the while pulling him in closer and closer. Shea, unfortunately, seems like a bit of a dishrag to me. He conforms to whatever Jamie wants and I felt like he changed very little in this story. Rather, he remained docile and allowed life to be decided for him, first by his father, then by Jamie. That, for me was the reason I could not really embrace the premise of the story. For me, both these men had both the need and the motivation to grow, change, and become more adept at revealing themselves. Jamie did this in spades, admittedly often rudely, but even that could be forgiven to a certain extent given his background and the demons he carried inside himself. But Shea remained somewhat unchanged, slightly child like, and irritatingly subservient.
Prodigal has some really fine moments and when looking at only Jamie’s story, we can see such amazing change and bravery. He opens himself up to be hurt again and allows himself to give in to the desire to lay down roots and love another person. However it was a one sided dynamic and Shea did little but go along for the ride, in the end.