The final season in B.G. Thomas’ Seasons of Love series is here. Winter Heart is Wyatt’s story and if this little bear of a man has not already captured your heart by his terrible joke telling or his propensity to always see the best in people, then his heartache and rediscovery of love will definitely do so. While Wyatt has been so very happy to see each of his friends of the “fabulous four” find their true love, when his own lover rips his heart out and throws him away, he is worried that perhaps in order for Sloan, Asher, and Scott to remain happily in love he must now be alone—a sort of cosmic balancing act if you will where all his friends enjoy their new found partners and he must suffer loneliness in order for them to remain happy. If you have read the other novels in this series, then you know that Wyatt has always been this way—slightly naïve, easily swayed into thinking things that really aren’t exactly true, and often ending up so terribly unhappy as a result. But this man is nothing if not optimistic—unfortunately that optimism hides a deep well of self-doubt and pain—planted their by a hating parent, a loathsome, belittling ex, and Wyatt’s own tendency to accept less than he deserves.
After Howard is discovered not with one, but two sexual partners, Wyatt finally reaches the end of his rope. Yes, theirs had always been an open relationship but with the power of veto—the right to say no if a potential sexual partnering did not sit well with them. But one thing Howard had always denied Wyatt was to top him and when Wyatt discovers his lover in just that position he confronts him only to have Howard violently and angrily hit him and tell him they are through. When our story opens, Wyatt is living in Sloan’s old house and still reeling from the loss of his lover of over 10 years.
Yes, he understands what his friends have been trying to tell him for years—that Howard was a real bastard and Wyatt deserved better–but that does not ease the pain of losing the first man who not only showed Wyatt what love could be, but who also introduced him to his religion and what became his way of life, which included Camp Sanctuary and all the happiness he finds there every year at the festival. So when two stunning and frightening things happen in Wyatt’s life, he decides to make his way to the camp in the dead of winter—to have some time away in order to think, meditate, and come to terms with this new life that has him so confused and lonely.
Little does he know that states away, another camp visitor who has also had a devastating event take place in his life is also enroute to the camp—not only that, but this is a man who has been watching Wyatt from afar for years at camp—and has wanted him more and more as time has passed. But Kevin is a man who will only have a monogamous relationship and even though he had the opportunity once to bed a drunk Wyatt, he refused—for to him Wyatt was as good as married and Kevin would not be part of their open relationship. Now these two men are about to meet again under very different circumstances and who knows what may happen.
While there are many light hearted moments in Winter Heart, have no doubt that this installment deals with some very serious issues and a great deal of past pain that both Wyatt and Kevin are grappling with in a very real way. Both men come from a past where parents not only failed them, but also abused them either verbally or physically. Both men struggle with ex lovers who have cheated on them and left them vulnerable in so many ways. But it is Wyatt who really has the lion’s share of work to do in this story for he has been lied to by Howard and convinced over the years to settle for a life that was never actually fulfilling—not the happy ever after with all the trimmings that he really desired and hoped would one day be his. Now he is relegated to accepting what he thinks he deserves after years of being put down and told he was nothing—that people only cared for him, wanted him sexually or otherwise so that they could be close to his ex. Howard filled him with lies and then leaves him—which absolutely devastates poor Wyatt.
Now Wyatt is simply trying to find his way again—but he is so full of the garbage Howard has filled his head with that he is almost certain he does not deserve to really love or be loved again. This story, like the others in this series, deals with powerful fears and misconceptions that hold us down—that mire a person in the lies that keep them unhappy and feeling unworthy. The strength of this story is in the revelation that despite being in what really amounts to an abusive relationship for years, people can find the strength to break free—to start again—but it takes time, and healing, and a community of friends who will support and nurture the wounded person and continually assure them they can make it—they can be free—they are worthy. That is the crux of Winter Heart and it is a beautiful message told by an incredible author who can weave magic into his words and make those trapped in the worst of circumstances move from the dark toward the light.
In m opinion, the only flaw with this story was that there were a few too many times where whole passages were revisited as Wyatt and Kevin both worked through their turmoil. While I understood what the author was trying to do by having Wyatt continually recall moments and conversations with Kevin and gain more strength from them, I felt it got a bit too repetitive and wished that there had been another way for Wyatt to move forward and gain strength of will other than to continually hearken back to the memories of past conversation as his source for courage and reassurance. With the novel clocking in at some 400 pages, I felt those scenes could have been trimmed a bit and not lost any of the incredible impact or beauty that made this such a gorgeous story to read. However, the book itself was incredibly well done and, as always, this author creates characters that worm their way into your heart and stay with you well beyond the last page. Winter Heart by B.G. Thomas was a powerful story of hope and recovery with a beautiful happy ever after that was hard fought, but so well deserved.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.