Pax is finally making music again, although it’s not quite the tour they were hoping for. Cycling across the country and sleeping outdoors in tents is definitely trying on the entire band. But, the fans are out there, way out there, in the small villages of England. The band keeps hoping that soon there will be a bigger tour or another album. But being musicians and part of an out gay couple in the 1970s still offers many obstacles for them to overcome.
Jamie and Michael are still together and it’s been two years. A hard two years. They are still committed to each other, still in awe of each other, and still terribly co-dependent on each other. But Jamie is struggling with all of it. The excess in trying to be a successful musician is available to him at every turn, along with some fans that may not be all that well-meaning. Jamie begins a confusing downward spiral that leads him further and further out of control and away from what the band needs and away from what Michael needs. When he puts his health and the future of the band in jeopardy, it’s going to take a lot of soul searching to find his way back to the right path.
It is rare that I am so conflicted with a book. Release is the third book in the Pax Cymrica series and the books must be read in order. I loved the first book in this series, Just Playing. The writing was evocative, visual, and lyrical, and Jamie and Michael were rare characters that captured a moment. The second book, The Road Taken, finally left them with some peace at the end. Release offers the men very little peace and has them taking many steps backward, while at the same time trying almost desperately to move forward. I will admit it was not what I expected or envisioned.
Jamie and Michael are more co-dependent than ever. Past events are finally catching up with them emotionally. But, the music here is secondary to their inner turmoil. For everything the men have been through, they are still so unsure of each other. That was the first difficult aspect to overcome. They both think that at any moment one of them will find someone else and leave. These guys are young at 21, but by this stage and with all their hard won battles, there is little stability between them.
The writing here is still excellent and is Bohm’s signature as the phrases are descriptive and visual. It was that same quality, however, that made a good portion of the book uncomfortable to read. Jamie’s thoughts are jagged and chaotic, with a quiet yet paranoid urgency as he struggles with alcohol addiction. The previous books offered flowing prose that wrapped itself around you. The style here, being trapped with both Jamie and Michael’s thoughts, made my brain buzz and itch. Jamie’s journey takes us through the entire book and the pacing is even and hypnotic. It just does not let up all the way through the book and between both him and Michael having similar voices, there was little breathing room. I greatly missed the special moments and superior chemistry that made these guys such a fabulous couple.
The book is primarily character driven. Yet, for being the third book in a series, the characters still have so much work to do with every relationship and it takes the entire book to see even the smallest forward motion. A lot of side story lines are wrapped up at the very end all together after much turmoil. There were conversations I would have liked to have seen, as even by the end of the book Jamie and Michael have not talked about anything. It made it difficult to believe in or trust Michael and Jamie’s ending or future.
So there were mixed feelings all the way around for this third book in the series. The first book captured my imagination originally with its descriptive and unique prose and the intense love story between Jamie and Michael. While Release also offers phrases that linger, it still feels like the beginning of their journey.