Colton Kelly has reached a crossroads. He has left his job as a porn star and finished his college degree. He wants to teach, but knows the odds may be stacked against him. Until he finds a position, Colton juggles work as a barista and grocery deliveryman. It is through this last job that he meets Elliot Lawrence, a man so plagued by panic attacks that he has been unable to leave his home for more than a year. Colt is naturally drawn to Elliot, who is clever and kind and desperate to conquer his anxiety so that he might return to some kind of normalcy.
Colt and Elliot become friends and finally lovers. With Colt’s help, Elliot begins to regain his independence. But just as the two seem poised to move their relationship to the next level, a family tragedy pulls Colt back home to Texas. In order to find happiness, Colt must redefine his future and Elliot must learn that he is more than the sum of his fears.
Resurrecting Elliot poised something of a conundrum for me. It is an evenly placed, well-styled novel that has a good balance between angst and hope. And unfortunately, I just didn’t like it very much. Had I bought this book on my own, it probably would have ended up as a DNF. But I don’t think that will be the general response as I believe most people will actually enjoy it. While Resurrecting Elliot has some issues, I think it is a solid read that has a lot to offer, even though it didn’t work for me.
Colt and Elliot are both gentle souls, each scarred in their own way. Colt guards his pain more closely and he has not allowed it to make him cynical or cruel. When he meets Elliot, he sees the man as beautiful inside and out and it never occurs to him to pressure or try and change Elliot, despite the limitations that Elliot’s condition places upon their relationship. For his part, Elliot is portrayed as neither weak nor broken, but rather as someone who survives in spite of the demands his anxiety places upon him. I appreciated that the author never suggested that Elliot was somehow less than Colt or in anyway incapable. Instead his anxiety and PTSD are conditions the author regularly depicts with dignity and kindness. These characters are distinct from one another, yet well suited to the ebbs and tides of couplehood. But perhaps my biggest problem with the book is that I failed to truly connect with them, either on an individual level or as a couple. Despite that we are given strong back stories for both Colt and Elliot, neither felt very well defined. They seemed flat rather than fully formed and therefore their actions read as somewhat forced and awkward. I wanted to like both characters a lot more than I did and I suspect they will appeal to most readers. I think they are relatable and for some reason the failure to connect was on my end rather than the author’s.
Setting aside the characters, I do believe there are some fairly significant plot issues that need to be addressed. Though the overall story was solid enough, there were several instances where I was completely taken out of the moment due to a level of implausibility that I couldn’t move past. For example, Elliot has been housebound for a year when he meets Colt, yet by the end of the week, he is able to leave his house for the first time. As uplifting as this seems on the surface, it suggests that Colt is some sort of magic cure for Elliot, which is unrealistic and somewhat undermines the efforts by the author to legitimize Elliot’s situation. Another of these scenarios involved Elliot’s psychologist. From the very beginning the readers are told that Elliot neither likes him nor that he seems terribly competent. It is later discovered that the man is engaging in criminal behaviors and yet we are expected to believe that Elliot never fully vetted the man or bothered to do even cursory research into his credentials. This doesn’t mesh with what we are told about Elliot and it doesn’t seem very believable. There are a couple of other occasions where these types of plot issues cropped up and, while they didn’t cripple the story completely, they definitely detracted from my overall enjoyment.
While Resurrecting Elliot didn’t really work for me on most levels, I do think Colt and Elliot will appeal to most people and aside from a handful of slightly absurd plot premises; the novel is decently written and offers up a strong message about triumphing over tragedy. So if you enjoy sweet romances and a gentle couple deserving of a happily ever after, you may want to give Resurrecting Elliot a try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.