Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I love reading books that contain a grieving character, and I think it’s my favorite subset of the hurt/comfort trope. I guess I like the idea that it is possible to move past what can seem initially to be permanently devastating pain, and these stories always make me full of hope. I also like stories that have MCs with disabilities, especially when those MCs learn to thrive despite the disability. So this book really hit a lot of buttons for me, and I enjoyed it.
The book opened as Michael Stricker was attending the funeral for Phillip DiMartino, his partner of 12 years. Phillip suffered a devastating stroke, which left him comatose for a time (which was not specified, but I got the impression it was a week or two) before he died. During that time he was in a nursing home, but also had a private caregiver, Alan Stuart, who came to admire Michael and his devotion to Phillip as he died, and developed a rapport of sorts with Michael. The funeral was difficult for Michael not only because he lost his husband, but also because Phillip’s family was smothering him with their concern – Michael was blind, and hadn’t lived alone for years, and they didn’t think he could function independently. When the family became particularly overbearing, Alan stepped in and rescued him.
From that moment, the two men became friends. And though Alan was very attracted to Michael, he knew it was inappropriate to initiate a relationship so soon after Phillip’s death, and tried just to be a friend. When he inadvertently discovered evidence of Phillip’s infidelity, he didn’t know what to do with that information – tell Michael and cause him pain, or hide it and hope that he never found out? Alan was falling hard for Michael, which made that decision especially difficult.
I thought the portrayals of Phillip – through Michael’s remembrances, flashbacks, his family’s memories, his other lover’s recollections – were really well done, and I found myself alternately liking Phillip, despising him, being suspicious of him and eventually forgiving him. I would like to say more about this, but really can’t without giving away major spoilers! These little snippets of Phillip were revealed very slowly as Michael dealt with his grief over weeks and months, during which time Alan only fell more in love with him.
The romance between these two men was a mixture of quickly developing physical attraction, with a slower burn of the emotional bond. Michael had to regain his independence – which introduced some really great side characters – and Alan had to learn to respect and promote it. Their HEA didn’t come without false starts, steps backward, little betrayals, and even though this is a romance, and the HEA is expected, there were still moments when I thought it wouldn’t happen. I actually like that, because it makes the story seem all that more real to me!
I would have rated the book higher, but found the changes of POV between Michael and Alan to be to abrupt and frequent and made the flow of the book choppy. There were also multiple times the author referred to Michael’s actions or thoughts as if he was a sighted person – in the first pages of the book, Michael mentioned “seeing him now” in regards to Alan. Every time that happened, I noticed it and it bugged me. There were some great secondary characters, but some of their stories were completely superfluous, and just left me irritated because there was no resolution to those problems, and it would have been better if they’d never been mentioned in the first place.
Cover art by Natasha Snow was only OK.
ebook, 2nd Edition, 315 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Loose Id (first published February 15th 2011)
Original TitleTo Soon For Love