My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange of an honest review
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Point of View: First Person (Noah)
Genres & Themes: Romance, M/M Romance, Contemporary, Hurt/Comfort
Have you ever woken up and expected to see destruction everywhere?
In 48 hours, I lost everything. I came home to find my girlfriend of four years with another man. The next day a plane crash ripped my family away from me, shattering me in the process. In many ways, I died that day, too. The fun-loving man who’d lived in the fast lane and loved his career in the film industry was gone. Left was a forty-year-old shell that dwelled at the bottom of a bottle.
Only one person knew what I was going through. My sister’s stepson, who hadn’t been on the plane. Julian knew what it was like to lose everyone he loved, too. He’d stopped showing up at reunions when he was a teenager, so I didn’t know him very well. But I told him at the memorial service he could come out and visit me in LA whenever. One day he did, and I guessed it was as good a day as any to start picking up the pieces and see what was left of us.
Cara Dee beguiled me with her Aftermath series, and is perhaps the only series in which I found flashbacks captivating and interesting enough not to bore me to death by halfway through one flashback. She had a way of inflicting pain and trauma that wove it’s trenches with a story of love and comfort. And it shouldn’t have been surprising that she brought that same feeling of rightness with Noah.
Although, Noah is somewhat tame compared to the havoc wrecked in Aftermath. This story is about grief and mourning, and about finding solace in a person who went through the same thing and can actually understand. And at the heart of it, it’s a novel about unconventional love.
I have to admit the beginning was iffy, I wasn’t sure how to deal with the writing, since it felt a little bit off. Noah, especially. His thoughts and actions and words. Something just wasn’t doing it for me, and then…..and then I got to know him. Then came Julian and much like Noah, the story transformed. I don’t know if it was intentional, or if the writing was meant to mirror that, but suddenly everything was just…better, in a way of speaking. Noah is a hard pill to swallow. At times has crass and caustic, and he says certain words, which, you know, I didn’t like, but as the story unfolds I found that he never means it and the worst ways. Okay, sure at times he does. But he actually treats everyone like that.
And for some reason that worked, because here I was reading about a character who I could flesh out his personality. As for Julian, he’s a guy with more to the surface that meets the eyes, and he has secrets that are threatening to swallow him whole. This two guys haven’t had it easy— they lost all of their family in a day, except for Julian’s grandparents who can barely see the sight of him without bursting into tears. So where can they go to heal and recover?
Julian and Noah have never really been close. It isn’t until tragedy strikes, that in a way, they’re brought to one another. At first, it could have been this “healing” coming together of sorts, but Cara Dee dismantles that notion of “i’ll get you out of my system” formula readers could spot a mile away. Instead, she brings the doubts and questioning hard. Because on the one hand, Noah fears of what their family would have said and thoughts, and on the other hand, Julian has his own darkness to fight.
But when they’re together….Well, lets use the cliche saying of, “if this is what wrong feels like, then I don’t want to be right.” Fantasies, the city of love, and an unconventional love are sure to make for a hell of a good time and I was all for it. I have to say that it took me by surprise how much I did like it, since the beginning had me headed a certain way. But what sealed me in was the love they had for each other. Once, Noah had he’s feelings figured out the way he is with Julian is just goals worthy because I could have swoon…okay I did swoon a couple times.
I also wanted to mention secondary characters and how much I loved them all. Tennyson, Sophie, Brooklyn, Daniel, Zane…okay all of them, they just were so infectious with life and I wanted to join their little friendship family because we need more of that in life.