When former Marine, Carey, lost his leg in Afghanistan, his best friend and medic, Jase, saved his life. After a grueling recovery, which brought the men even closer, Carey now counsels other war victims and their families. A vacation in sunny California will allow Carey to reconnect with Jase, who is now a part-time EMT and aspiring musician.
Jase fell in love with Carey many years ago and tries to accept that Carey, who is straight, will never return his feelings. He fills the void with work and groupies, all while battling the PTSD that can strike at any time. When Carey starts to notice small things about his best friend, he valiantly tries to tame his attraction. Jase has been longing to be with Carey and then their relationship ignites. Carey enjoys the physical relationship with Jase, but is confused about romantic feelings. Growing up in the foster care system, Carey does not have much experience with love in general and struggles with the concept of loving a man. When feelings are laid out in the open, it’s up to Carey to figure out where he and Jase can possibly go from there.
Friends to lovers on a theme of hurt and comfort is what is solidly presented here. There is also military action, military injury, and a portrayal of PTSD. It is easy to get caught up with Carey and Jase’s friendship right away. They have been through a lot together and as the story goes on, there are more experiences and more layers that get revealed over time. The author uses flashbacks to tell the early parts of their story. The flashbacks, which are necessary since we meet the men in present day, are not overly lengthy, and for the most part worked to enhance the story. Some of the transitions to the flashbacks were slightly awkward or basic, almost as if there was a sign stating that there would be a flashback ahead.
The heart of the story is the attraction, friendship, and relationship between Carey and Jase. Their affection, and then love for each other, was well written and there was a lot of emotion (even if Carey was trying to deny the emotional part) and all out heat when they got together. Their bond was well explored and defined and there were also interesting details to Carey’s amputee status. Once Carey was on board with an intimate relationship with Jase, his struggle and subsequent journey was more about the emotional aspects and less about the physical. I was able to get really caught up in the shift of their relationship from friends to lovers, but some of the dialog, especially Carey’s, was predictable and I found myself knowing exactly where his character was going.
There were a few things that had me hesitating while reading:
- Jase is a reserve EMT and it is stated that it works out well for him as it, “…kept him supplied in fresh morphine and antibiotics….” It is never discussed further what this exactly means. He does carry a medical bag in his car, but it is not clear exactly how he is able to just take the supplies.
- In the beginning of the book, when the characters are being introduced, it states that Carey drove eight-hundred-miles “from” Southern California to visit Jase. Since Carey lives in Colorado, he should have driven “to” California.
- During a flashback, we see Jase and Carey meet and Jase refers to Carey several times as “kid.” It is never addressed how old they are and Jase does not come across as being older than Carey.
- It is not explained how Carey knows Jase’s friends so well as he does not visit often and lives hundreds of miles away.
- Jase’s ex shows up, completely unexpectedly, to see him at a bar and they have an emotional, yet brief conversation that did not have much point to the overall story.
- When Carey makes a decision toward the end of the book, some of the timeline and details surrounding that did not all add up.
The end of the book does offer a well done epilogue and a solid message of loving the person and not the gender. On an overall rating, this was a solid like for me, and a solid debut book overall from an author that would be one to watch.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.