Nolan Grainger has come home to Pelican Bay, but far from willingly. He’s come back to help with his father, who recently had a stroke, but the fact that Nolan’s career is in ruins is just icing on the cake. His parents aren’t exactly the warm and cuddly type and their relationship has always been strained. To make matters worse, Nolan discovers they’re in a financial quagmire that could cost them their home. So Nolan must find a job in a town that always hated him.
The rescue of a baby raccoon brings Nolan face to face with Dallas Kent, who runs a secluded wildlife rehabilitation center. Dallas used to be a high school super star and everything else the shy, bullied Nolan was not. But an accident left Dallas’ parents dead, his brother estranged, and Dallas without a voice. Now he’s just as isolated and lonely as Nolan. Sparks fly between the two, but before they have a chance at forever, they’ll have to deal with a childhood thug, a close-minded town, and their own insecurities.
Locked in Silence is the first in the Pelican Bay series and well suited to our Diverse Books Week for the 2018 Reading Challenge Month. So let’s break it down. Nolan and Dallas are fully developed characters and the author has done a great job of establishing their backgrounds and the childhood baggage they share. Both men have been scarred by life and that they’ve endured shows their strength. It’s easy to like them because they’re essentially victims through no real fault of their own and they’re surviving despite this. There is a strong sense of connection between them that is only reinforced by Dallas’ inability to communicate through traditional means. Their romance did feel a bit quick on the draw and rushed, but the two are a sweet couple. There’s a sense that when Dallas and Nolan are together, the rest of the world and it’s complications are simply less important.
Where Locked in Silence stumbles is its believability factor. Right from the start, characters and events seem just a shade too everything: too awful, too painful, too bleak, and so on. And when the resolutions come, they’re too easy, too pat, and often too simple. As a result, Locked in Silence feels unsubstantial as times despite its very serious themes of grief and recovery. This tendency towards melodrama undermines the story and its characters. It doesn’t ruin the book by any means, but it takes what could have been a great book and leaves it lacking.
Locked in Silence offers a tender romance, lots of feelings, and a happy resolution for two wounded men. It leans towards the overwrought at times and falls prey to triteness instead of being allowed to stand on the merit of its own foundation. Still if you’re looking for something with a sweet couple and a happy ending, Locked in Silence won’t disappoint.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Diverse Books Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of our amazing diverse books prize packs. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Diverse Books Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.