Rating: 5 stars
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Arctic Restitution is part of the Arctic Absolution series. It is not intended to be read as a stand alone and the first book, as well as the prequel, directly relate to the events that take place here. The entire story is rough and wildly traumatic, but if you can make it through, the entire series is a phenomenal piece of writing.
Jaye’s birthday is coming soon, which also means that it is the third anniversary of his attack. The attack that changed his life in every way imaginable. He’s out of jail and living with Dixon in a small cabin in remote Alaska, but the ghosts are never far away. Jaye is doing better some days. He has a job and he and Dixon are solid in their relationship and Jaye never thought that he would have love and a life with a good man like Dixon. But when a letter arrives for Jaye, he knows that the past is just waiting to claim him and he feels he owes a debt.
When Cash reaches out, Jaye feels like he’s caught in a trap with no way out and he knows that he can’t just let it go. As much as Dixon wants to protect Jaye, he also understands what he needs. The last place Jaye ever wanted to return to is the corrections institute where all the horrors happened, especially not of his own choice. But some ghosts cannot be ignored.
While reading Caged Jaye, the prequel to this series, Arctic Restitution was the book that I envisioned needing to complete Jaye’s journey. While Caged Jaye is the book that should come with a prize pack just for making it through, I knew I needed more from Cash. The author includes a note at the end of the book and I read it first–I do this. The author’s note itself is a heartfelt exploration of the characters’ journey and deserves a commendation all on its own.
Few books have affected me like this series and especially the character of Jaye. He has truly gone to hell and back and his mind still remains in the past at times. He and Dixon are stable in their relationship and they have a routine. But Jaye’s mind is fragmented from all the trauma and abuse he went through and they never know when something will trigger a flashback and his story is raw and traumatizing. There is no direct on page violence in this book, but when Jaye’s mind travels back to the horrors that he has experienced, we go along with him.
Kelling writes a story that is psychologically layered and if there is one thing to take away from this book and this series is the truly spectacular writing and the ability of the author to completely immerse you in this world. There are so many things at play here between the abuse that Jaye suffered and his descent into madness at times, but the point here is that Jaye is a survivor. He lived through the most unimaginable terrors and he is doing his best to carry on. The men have a tremendous amount to deal with as they also have to work through Dixon’s issues relating to his ex, Marcus, but Jaye’s story does overshadow Dixon’s here. Their attempt to heal each other is often through erotic means where they continue an exchange of sex and power that suits them and binds them together in all of the ways that matter to them. That is also the point here, that their relationship works for them and gives each of them what they need.
Now I mentioned Cash and if you have followed the series then you know all about Cash. There were moments of brilliance in the previous book where Kelling showed a glimpse of Cash where his guard came down every so slightly for the briefest of moments. In this book, we still see Cash through the eyes of others and he is not given a point of view. The trauma that spills off of Jaye as he makes the decisions he knows he has to as regarding Cash is yet another layer here as Dixon is also forced to interact with Cash to help protect Jaye. Jaye is put into an impossible position and part of his story here is navigating that as well. If there was one thing I could say I wanted from this book was even more from Cash. Chapters directly from his point of view would have truly been something to read, but perhaps some characters and their motives are meant to remain out of reach. There is also a brief crossover tie in to a special character from one of Kelling’s other series that offered another sad yet hopeful exchange.
This book and the whole series are truly dark and showcase some of the worst types of physical violence and their psychological effects. I have only five stars to give here, which isn’t quite enough as the brilliant writing is awe inspiring in its delivery. Certainly look at the warnings for this series and if you are up to the challenge sometimes the best stories are the ones that are the most difficult to get through.
Thanks for the great write up. I’ve only read book one and LOVED it! Looking forward to catching up.
Thanks! Caged Jaye is a phenomenal piece of writing. It’s a rough one to get through but so worth it.
This sounds like a fascinating series. I’m adding it to my list.