Dennis is a former Marine who has seen more than he ever wanted to. While overseas, he not only lost part of his leg, but his wife as well. Dennis is back in New York, but nightmares, pain, and an uninspired job as a bouncer now make up his life. He does have his best friend Tucker and when the depression sends Dennis all the way down, Tucker is there to help pick him back up.
Tucker has his own issues to deal with and his own turn in the military cost him his hearing. There is a chance he could get his hearing back, but Tucker’s feels that it’s his penance for being the only survivor. Although neither Dennis nor Tucker has ever been with a man before, their friendship catches fire and lust turns into love. But both men have PTSD and while they struggle, they have each other to rely on. They also both have intense family issues and when the drama becomes too much to handle, life without the other may send them both spiraling out of control.
It’s not often that I think that a book started in the exact place that it needed to start, but this one does just that. The book opens with a prologue of Dennis in the military and the scene of what happened to his wife who was also overseas as a reporter. Then Dennis gets injured and returns home. The book then picks up four years later after Dennis and Tucker met in the hospital and are already the best of friends and roommates. The author sets the scene for their intense friendship and then the build up to their attraction.
These guys both are really a mess. Dennis is horribly depressed and he can’t move on. He’s physically disabled, which limits what he can do for work and he’s too proud to ask for help. Both of his parents are alcoholics and they constantly cause abusive problems for him. Besides Tucker, the one bright spot is his sister who he helped raise him and who is a source of support.
Then there is Tucker. Tucker lost his hearing while in the Marines and has survivor’s guilt. He handles the PTSD better than Dennis for a time until certain triggers set him off. He also has family issues with his mother’s health and a father and brother who he doesn’t think will accept him having a relationship with a man.
The book is fast paced and frantic at times. Told mostly in alternating first person POV between Dennis and Tucker, these guys have one thing after another piled on top of them. Their relationship, when they are alone, is hot and rough and exactly what they both need, but they are reluctant to share it with the rest of the world.
This book is a second edition and was originally released as a trilogy. There were areas that may have worked better in the trilogy format as opposed to one complete novel. One area was Tucker’s Marine friend, Duke. They are several shifts to Duke’s POV and, while it was clear that it was him, I didn’t feel that it added anything to Dennis and Tucker’s story. There is a separate book about Duke that was put out to complement the original trilogy, but his story gets lost here, gets in the way of Dennis and Tucker, and then adds even more drama to a story already full of it at every turn. This book is also a spinoff from the author’s m/f series where Dennis’ sister was a MC and there was just a whole lot going on here for a single novel. With so much going on, the emotions for both Dennis and Tucker did not run as deep as I would have liked and some areas stayed on the surface and again, I felt this was due to the trilogy not completely being successfully compressed into one book.
This was the first novel I have read by this author and there was a lot to like with former military men finding their way through friendship and a roster of issues to deal with. If you like damaged, wounded military men and best friends who just get each other, this would be one to take a look at.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.