Gilbert Lemieux had a good job and a good life and now all of that is gone. A vicious attack left him scarred and fearful of the world. Most days he barely manages to keep his part time job and any semblance of a social life seems long gone. Training in Minnesota forces him out of his well ordered routine, but he reassures himself by remembering it’s only for a couple of days. But when he meets his coworker Keith, Gil feels an instant connection. Keith suffered from an attack of his own and continues to deal with debilitating pain, but he has not allowed his injuries to control him. Gil finds Keith beautiful and inspiring and despite having to return home, he wants to get to know the man better.
They begin a long distance relationship, supporting one another as Gil begins to heal and Keith suffers a setback. Gil wants Keith in his life full time, but in order to make that dream a reality, Gil must learn to both embrace and overcome his fears.
Silver Scars was a beautifully sweet love story. There is plenty of angst and the dark moments are dark indeed, but hope and two wonderful characters prevent the novel from becoming overly maudlin. The humor is often self-effacing, but anyone who has ever suffered loss or pain will appreciate the realism of the characters, their emotions, and their attempts to make the best of bad situations. It is written with an easy, relatable voice and generally well paced, though there are times when this becomes an issue. The narrative tends to lag during the first third of the book, which is when Keith and Gil are separated. Once they are back together, the pacing resumes its natural flow and doesn’t drop off again. There are a few unnecessary scenes that don’t add much to promoting the story and occasionally seem like filler. An example of this is the party Keith’s friend throws for him. It demonstrated that Keith is well liked, but the readers already knew this and it seemed like a moment of treading water, rather than forward movement. These scenes were few and far between, though I did find them a little annoying because the rest of the book was much more purposed.
Gil and Keith are equally captivating, both of them broken in their own way but made whole by their inner strength and the emotional support provided to them by friends and family. Both Gil and Keith have survived serious injuries and while this binds them, it does not define them, which makes them relatable and their romance all the more enjoyable. Gil struggles with PTSD and he wavers between wanting to conquer his fears and believing he will never be the man he once was. His character is incredibly empathetic and the author never leaves the reader feeling that Gil is less than whole, despite his mental fragility. We share his journey back from the brink and cheer him all the way. His devotion to Keith is absolute and does not feel forced or rushed, despite the quickness of their connection.
Keith is more affable and outgoing than Gil and his scars are older. He is living with the day-to- day physical ramifications of his injuries just as Gil lives with the mental. Keith knows the surgeries and pain of his past are not over, but he manages to project a realistic optimism that never feels silly or ridiculous. He is down to earth and relatable and through him we see the beauty in Gil that he can no longer see in himself. Their course as a couple is never guaranteed and there are no magic fixes by the end of the book, which I appreciated. Had the author resolved everything too completely, it would have invalidated all that Gil and Keith endured. Instead we’re given a believable conclusion, one that finds a balance between the pain, the hope and everything else.
Silver Scars was a very enjoyable read. Keith and Gil are complex characters, whose survivals speak volumes to their strength, while their romance is both gentle and powerful. There are some issues with pacing early on and a few scenes that seem to clutter the narrative rather than forward it, but overall Silver Scars was a great book and one that I would definitely recommend!