Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Oh my, I really enjoyed this story. It was transported back to the early days of reading MM romance when I first discovered LA Witt. And at first, the story seemed to be following the lines of one of my old favorites, The Distance Between Us, but it quickly diverged and became totally unique.
Rhys and Derek are over, after nine years together, seven as a married couple, they are going their separate ways—once Rhys can find an affordable apartment, and they sell their home, and tell their adult daughter about the divorce. The situation is more complicated when she announces she’s getting married in three months. Can they hold off telling her? Can they live with the tension of staying together that long? Those are the issues that reminded me of the long-ago book. But the new twist is that this story is much more character-driven.
Rhys bears the burden of guilt—after a night out drinking while away from home and during a rough period in his life, he slept with a stranger. But instead of being sneaky about it, he confesses to Derek, who is unable to forgive him. Trust was broken and there’s not much more difficult to repair between two people. As the action of the story proceeds, it’s very evident that Rhys is hurting. The pain of his own betrayal is sometimes beyond bearable. Yes, Derek is hurting, too, and normally cheating is a drop-dead, don’t read for me, but in this case, the cheating happened before the story opened, and the story was written in such a way that it didn’t affect my emotional attachment to the characters. That is something not many authors can achieve because I had to leave personal prejudices aside to be able to see Rhys as much more than the a-hole Derek thinks him to be.
Of note, early in the story Derek mentions that one of his reactions was to go out and have sex with someone else. That’s the only time it’s mentioned, however. He never sees himself in the role of cheater and he never seems to see his own actions as anything other than justified. He never tells Rhys and the subject is dropped. I would love to have explored this further in the story because although he was “cheated on,” his own behavior should have been questioned— IMHO.
The men go through an emotional rollercoaster ride as they travel across country to attend the wedding, and during the trip they face more hurdles than a track star. I love the way the author slowly peeled back the layers of their relationship and their roles as father. Though Derek was the biological father, Rhys was a father in heart and action. The secondary characters were well-developed and important to the story but didn’t take it over. The focus was on the men and their emotional journey. All in all, I felt drawn to these guys, and by the end I was rooting for forgiveness—not only for Derek to forgive Rhys but for Rhys to forgive himself.
I got the HEA I was hoping for. Very definitely highly recommended.
The cover by Lori Witt is really clever. The top pane is a guy holding his head, as is a different character in the bottom pane. Dressed in clothing one might expect the characters to wear, they represent the MCs. And then the center panel is two wedding rings against a plain poster board background that has a jagged tear up the middle. This is where the title is placed. I really like this one. Spot-on for the story and beautifully done!
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 176 pages
Published January 8th 2019