Hush is a contemporary novel set in a world where some people have telepathic gifts. Wren is one of the gifted. He has the power to compel people through their feelings and desires. After having his heart broken, Wren vows to never let anyone in again. So now he uses his gift in a game of sexual consent where his partners are all willing and know the rules, but Wren holds all of the power.
Cameron is a freshman in college. He has arrived in Chicago from his sheltered life in Nebraska. Cam has never had a relationship before and has not really given it that much thought as he has yet to find someone that interests him. That all changes the day he sees Wren and instantly a spark flares to life. However, Cam is inexperienced and, after one brief encounter, Wren refuses to play with him. This sends Cam on a path of self-discovery, although he is constantly searching for just a glimpse of Wren once again. When their paths finally do cross once more, Cam immediately agrees to all of Wren’s rules.
Wren thinks their relationship is just physical, yet he can’t stop thinking about Cam and yearning for what he will never allow himself to have again. Cam wants more from Wren, so much more, but can his feelings be real when Wren is able to tap into the deepest parts of him and compel them forward? Wren thinks he holds all of the power, but Cam may just make him break all of his carefully constructed rules.
The unique angle this book has it just one of the many reasons I enjoyed it so much. The angle I am referring to is Wren’s ability to compel people. This entails something as complex as compelling forth desires and feelings during sexual play to something tamer, such as compelling someone to simply walk into a specific room. One aspect of the story line deals with how a person can offer consent when they are being compelled. It also deals with desire and manipulation and finally the desire to be manipulated.
At first glance, Wren comes off as a player. He never plays long with the same person, he sets all of the rules, and he never lets anyone get too close. But there is so much more behind Wren’s carefully constructed walls. It did take a while to fully get the feeling that the desire to be compelled was fully consensual and Wren never took advantage of anyone. This may have had to do how the initial spark he had with Cam was played out as it was not fully clear at first that their initial chemistry was natural.
There was so much going on here. Although Wren’s character offered the driving force behind the story, we don’t learn that much about him initially. He has a persona he puts on every day to face the world and he was intriguing and mysterious and alluring. The story was purposefully written to keep us in the dark as a good portion of his story is not offered until much later on.
Cam comes off as the shy, sheltered guy. However, when he realizes he has feelings for a man, he owns it, forges his own path and figures out what he wants, even if it means doing some interesting research. For the first half of the book, Wren and Cam are barely together and this did make for some slower passage of time, but at the end of the book, there is a solid and complete journey.
The book deals with secrets. The most visible one being that the relationship between Wren and Cam is a secret, as that is one of Wren’s rules. They meet mostly in public spaces and at Wren’s whim. Their meetings are sexual and highly charged encounters that continually push their relationship further and shift the perceived balance of power. The other secrets then slowly get revealed to themselves, to their friends, and finally to each other.
The area I would have liked more on was the gifted community as a whole as there was only a limited amount offered. The gifted were mostly on their own when it came to their gifts and when they were looking for mentors to assist them there were none to be found. The whole premise was intriguing and more world building would have been fascinating. The secondary character of Peyton became too mysterious, and Nora, although her intentions were said to be in Wren’s best interest, came off many times that she was taking advantage of him. The addition of both of their stories started to detract more than enhance.
The writing itself is full of flowing words and beautiful prose with precisely chosen phrases. The entire book has a specific cadence and tone that indeed compels you to read on. The initial rough edges of Wren and Cam’s relationship become polished and tender as they find their way toward each other. The emotional journey they take separately and then together is poignant as they break each other down to ultimately build each other back up.