Told in alternating points of view, Nurture by Jaime Samms and Sarah Masters is not your typical m/m novel. There must be a certain amount of suspension of disbelief when it comes to reading this thriller, mainly due to the fact that the police seem rather inept when it comes to actually capturing the killer who is running fairly rampant through two thirds of the novel. However, I am fairly sure that the main thrust of this novel isn’t the mystery portion, but rather the idea of one man finally breaking the chains of abuse that have become so familiar to him that he wears them without regard to his own well being.
This novel plumbs the depths of what it is to be an abuse victim who cannot deny their hope that this will be the last time their abuser hurts them—that the man they love is still in there somewhere and that they are, in fact, the reason he is abusive—somehow they have failed to be what their abuser needs. It is a hard concept for many to understand and unless you have been a victim yourself, it is likely that you may find yourself rather shocked at some of the truths these two authors bring to light in their story. However, there is no denying that regardless of any weaknesses in the plotline of this story, the picture they paint of a person who has been used and hurt by someone who professes to love them is very real indeed. So much so that I must say that if reading about abuse bothers you, the opening chapter is one that is fairly graphic and therefore potentially a trigger for those who are sensitive to this subject material.
Paul is in a relationship that is disastrous by no small measure. His partner Carl has become more and more aggressive sexually, pushing the limits of their kink to the point where he is hurting Paul regardless of whether Paul enjoys it or not. Paul’s best friend, Brian, has seen the many bruises Carl has left on Paul’s body and has repeatedly tried to get his friend to leave. However, Paul is convinced that it is his fault that Carl is always so angry and that he has somehow failed the man. When Carl finally goes too far, Paul decides to leave, but little does he know that not only will Carl never let him go, but also that there is more to Carl’s violent edge than he ever suspected. Secrets are about to be revealed that will lead Paul to depend on a police detective who has been trying to capture a killer for many months and must now protect Paul from becoming yet another victim.
This novel does many things right—describing and portraying how an abuse victim often feels and thinks is at the top of that list. I liked the fact that once Paul was truly free of Carl, he did not run into the arms of Vic, the police detective, but rather the two of them took months to come to terms with what had happened to Paul and how it affected his view on just about everything from sex, to a lasting relationship with another man. I found myself enjoying the alternating point of view immensely—it gave me great insight into both the mind of the killer and of the main character, Paul. It also allowed for more on the page action—some of which was rather gruesome, for sure, but still made for thrilling reading. To describe this novel as just a thriller or a romantic mystery is to give it short shrift. There was a lot happening in this story—some really good, some rather contrived, but all in all Nurture was a solid hit for me.