Taylor joined the military as a photographer and was told he wouldn’t be as involved as the soldiers. But that just wasn’t true as he found himself on the front lines time and again photographing horrific events. His job was to capture the photos that would make the military look good, so Taylor kept the worst images for himself and they haunt him. He has a lot of reminders of his time in the Army with all of his scars, both inside and out, as well as PTSD that doesn’t allow him to sleep or hold down a job. Taylor knows he’s not relationship material and one-night stands are all he will allow himself and all he feels he deserves.
Ryan owns a successful horse ranch and is raising his niece and nephew after his sister died. He lives in a small town and while he says he’s not hiding his sexuality, he’s certainly not out. He travels to the city sometimes to find a guy for the night where names don’t need to be exchanged. But Taylor gets under his skin and Ryan wants to spend more time with him, but the road to love for these two has a lot of roadblocks in their way.
Twenty-two tackles a difficult and important issue of military PTSD. The author states a statistic in the blurb that twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day and Taylor is heading in that direction. The blurb opens in the present when Taylor is at his lowest and then goes three years in the past to some of Taylor’s time in the military. This particular flashback didn’t work the best for me as it then takes the entire book to catch back up to the starting point.
The book really captures the depths of Taylor’s despair. He has seen brutal and horrific things during his military tours and he has an incredibly hard time functioning with day-to-day activities. He never knows what will set off a flashback and he then has the potential to lose hours and even days at a time. He knows he is not relationship material and isn’t even trying to have one. He is interested in Ryan for the night though.
This book had a whole lot going on and quite possibly too much. There is all of Taylor’s issues, which are a whole book in itself. Then, Ryan has an incredible amount of things going on as well. He has custody of his sister’s young children and he stays closeted to keep his business thriving. There is rampant homophobia and violent hate crimes depicted on page and Ryan also has a past story involving his first boyfriend that is woven in here as well. The issue for me was that the stories were presented, but then stalled, and none of these issues get resolved. There is enough page time to make them part of the story, but there was just too much to fit into this one book and at the end there were too many loose threads for me. And sure, in life not everything gets resolved, but for a novel I needed more resolution for too many areas.
The book also shifts from scenes told from Taylor’s POV to scenes from Ryan’s POV and I usually enjoy having dual perspectives. Yet here, sometimes I felt like the characters were speaking to us while other times I felt like a narrator was telling their story to us and it wasn’t consistent. Also, the scenes from one man to the other would shift abruptly and we were in a scene with one character and then the next paragraph would switch to another location with the other character and there was often no transition.
The author did a good job of showing where Taylor was and how he got there and also how the physical attraction blossomed to a relationship between the two men. But the ending was too abrupt for me and, again, almost all of the vast issues presented in the book were left unresolved.
I did enjoy meeting Taylor and Ryan and I appreciated that Taylor’s issues were not magically resolved, but the ending didn’t go far enough for me to see them as a couple with a solid chance. The author truly showed the struggle Taylor was going through and the attraction between the men was strong. There was just too many storylines going on for me with little resolution and an abrupt ending that didn’t pull together the end of the story as well as I would have liked.