Jackson loved his husband, Drew. He knew his darkness and together he thought they were a team and Jackson would bring Drew back from the brink as many times as needed. But Drew’s demons were too great and Jackson walked in to find his worst nightmare when Drew didn’t survive.
After Lawson’s sister-in-law died, he was the support his brother needed and Lawson moved to be closer to his brother. But his brother’s anguish was overwhelming and Lawson was the one to find him when his brother couldn’t go on anymore.
Now, Lawson and Jackson now belong to a club that they are devastated to be a part of. They are both lost and grieving and have no idea what to do next. But they find a connection with each other and that will make the difference.
This book contains a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions, and a lot of pages. At 527 pages for a contemporary novel, this book was too long for me due to the execution. I liked the characters and the intimate story that they were in, when we got to that part. But there were many storylines and many, many characters added in here.
Jackson is the more troubled character. He was homeless as a teen and met Drew, who became his husband while they were on the street. Drew was everything to Jackson and Jackson thought he could love Drew through all of his trauma and hold him together. But Jackson also suffered through Drew’s emotional abuse and cheating and Drew never told Jackson everything that had happened to him and it is a sad and difficult story. Now, that Drew is gone, Jackson is still loyal to him and Jackson needs a lot of help and a safe space to land. Lawson was incredibly close to his brother and, while he knew his brother was struggling, his brother didn’t tell him about the depths of his sorrow.
Jackson and Lawson meet in a group counseling session and, at one point, they become close and we are told they have been texting, but we don’t see that progression. Then, it’s a raw, emotional, and sometimes violent and drug-filled road for these men to work through their feelings, learn the truth about Drew’s abuse, and work towards their future.
The author calls this book a standalone and the first in a new series, yet there is also a disclaimer that characters from two other previous books appear here. There are pages and pages of other side characters with full storylines that read like I was supposed to know everyone. I really wanted to get to Jackson and Lawson’s story, but there was way too much going on here. There were also random one-off chapters from a side character’s point of view and I felt this book needed a tighter structure.
The author also states that she loves to write with descriptive language and beautiful words, which when done right is also my favorite. Here, I just felt like there were a lot of words.
The heart of the story here is difficult and, while some reveals felt like shock value, consideration should be taken with the trigger warnings. I like books that edge into the darkness as this one does continuously, but I would have liked a better structure to make the main storyline shine.