When Jamie walks through the door of the Humane Society, it’s not just an animal who needs rescuing that day. Tom is there to adopt another service dog into the Canine Comrade Corps, but it’s Jamie his heart goes out to. But each man turns away, walks away, from the potential pain, the rejection, the knowledge that it’ll all end in tears…
Jamie knows damn well that the HIV he contracted from an unfaithful lover has put him out of the dating game forever in the small town of Santa Vera. Tom lost his legs in Afghanistan, and got new ones, yeah, but with a side order of PTSD to go, he thought grimly. The real problem is that only now does he realize he’s gay, now that the revelation would be just one too many things to put his family through, after everything else they’ve had to deal with.
So both men grin and bear the loneliness, put their feelings on a shelf, even as Jamie’s volunteer stint at CCC turns into friendship and, despite their resolve, something more…
Tom saw Jamie’s smile. He’s totally relaxed about this. You’re getting there. This is going to work out, this is going to be a friendship. I need this. To be with normals again, people who aren’t…
Well, the fact was that Jamie wasn’t normal, was he? The fact that he had been through what he’d been through, in Tom’s mind put him on Tom’s side of the world, on the island of broken toys. Someone who could understand, who wasn’t one of them, the ones living a life oblivious to suffering, illness, pain.
It’s too bad, Jamie thought calmly. If only I didn’t have the bug, I could do this, I could…well, at least fantasize realistically about this becoming something. People liked it when you were just a little broken, he knew from experience. It lets them think that you’re not so unattainable, gives them the confidence to make a move. Then, they can fix you, be the one to un-break you, so they get to have it all, get the perfect lover in the end by coming to it through the side door.
Yeah, he smirked. But they don’t want you when you’re just a little too broken, just a little bit beyond where you can be repaired back into perfection, their reward for accepting those lesser flaws for a while. Some things stay broken, and nobody wants that.
Loved this book. Two thirds of the way in I sobbed. And then toward the end I laughed and cried at the same time. Which, um, might have scared my cats a little.
I loved Tom and Jamie wholeheartedly. I loved Harry, Ed, and Ava. Hell, I even ended up loving a character I never expected to.
For being a story about several weighty subjects it was surprisingly light to read. Not insubstantial and it didn’t at gloss over the characters struggles or what they faced when they confronted the world around them. But it had a nice sense of humor to offset the darkness. It felt approachable, even while throwing light on two issues that aren’t always easy to talk about. It was informative without being preachy and made me hope there might be a way to change some of the problems in the world.
The choices the characters made sometimes surprised me, but in the best of ways, making the story feel fresh and interesting.
The only fault I could find with it is that sometimes the POV switches felt a bit rushed, a bit confusing. I would have preferred to see the changes happen during chapter breaks, or at least scene breaks, not mid-scene. But that wasn’t enough to detract from the book and I still feel like it was one of the best books I’ve read in a good long while.