Alex Fletcher may be eighteen, but his life is still not his own. His father is abusive, his mother is an alcoholic, and Alec wears hoodies and long sleeves to hide himself and the bruises inflicted by his father and the scars that are self made. Alex feels invisible most of the time and then he meets Chris. Chris is always the center of attention and the first person to ever see Alex, but their friendship barely has chance to grow when Chris is tragically injured. Alex is suddenly in the spotlight as he’s Chris’ friend, but Alex is uncomfortable with all eyes on him and one line of cocaine turns into an addiction he can’t control.
Nate Cooper couldn’t save his brother, so he is going to save the immediate world. Nate is a doctor and a paramedic who specializes in drug counseling and when he brings Alex back to life, their story begins. But, Alex is scared and closed off and has no idea what to do next. He does know that he wants to stay with Nate, but thinks that Nate sees him only as a patient. Nate has no intention of crossing the doctor/patient line, but Alex might be worth making big changes for.
The beginning of this book drew me in as Alex is introduced. His life is devastating as he has suffered years of physical abuse from his father. His mother turned to alcohol as the result of a tragedy and never resurfaced and showed Alex no care or comfort. Alex tried to make himself invisible, but had no release and turned to cutting and then to cocaine. After the beginning of the story, however, the book never went anywhere for me.
Invisible Ink is book three in the Paint series and it was confirmed that it would standalone and the beginning of the book does. Alex meets Chris and it only confirms all that he is missing out on in life. He sees Chris with his boyfriend and naturally being the center of attention and it equally makes him long for more and want to hide. His father cannot even know that Alex knows Chris and Alex’s life is one of abuse and survival. According to the blurbs for books one and two, I was able to piece together that the timeline for this book runs parallel and then overlaps both of those books, as that is where Chris’ story is shown. I had not read the first two books and Chris’ appearance here then did not fit into Alex’s story, especially as he is spoken of more and then becomes a focus toward the end of the book.
The book is long (according to Goodreads it is 333 pages) and it was too long for what was offered. Most of the book is spent with Alex at Nate’s house recovering. We live every minute of Alex’s rather uninspiring recovery. I say uninspiring because nothing happens. Alex goes to live with Nate, who can takes days off of work to stay with Alex as he detoxes. This is what Nate does; he offers a safe place to stay for those recovering. Alex is 18 so he can stay where he wants, but his father was so controlling it seemed highly unlikely that his father would not be seeking him out. The guys are attracted to each other, but Alex isn’t in a place to have a relationship and Nate isn’t going to cross any lines, which was respectable, but there is no move toward a relationship until very late into the book. And then, it’s tentative at best with Nate still demanding Alex open up to him without offering the same and there was a power imbalance that was never addressed due to how their relationship started.
Alex’s father than becomes more of a caricature toward the end and the storyline with his parents that opened the book wasn’t fully realized. And then, Alex and Nate’s story just sort of stops and we go back to Chris who gets the final scene in the book. The pace of this book was off for me, the storyline was lacking, the relationship was weak, and it did not hold my attention at all. If you know you like this author’s style then maybe start with book one, but this was a miss for me.