A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Red Thread by Bryan Ellis


Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

The Red Thread by Bryan EllisAfter a suicide attempt left him hospitalized for seven months, Jesse Holbrooke is returning home to live with his parents. Despite the treatment he received, his depression hangs like a cloud over his head, casting his life in a perpetual darkness he can’t seem to escape. But just when the obstacles become insurmountable, a glimmer of light appears.

Life hasn’t been easy for Adam Foster, a barista with a bad stutter, but he keeps his chin up and tries not to let the mockery of others get to him. Though shy, Adam is sweet and romantic, and Jesse knows they could be perfect for each other. Adam’s support gives Jesse the courage to face the darkness and believe in the possibility of happiness at last. But if their romance is going to last, both young men will have to look inside and find acceptance—for themselves as well as for each other.

The Red Thread by Bryan Ellis is a powerfully moving and often difficult at times to read story.  Jesse Holbrooke is a sad man.  He has been that way for as long as he can remember.  A recent suicide attempt had him institutionalized for severe depression and now he’s home.  But he’s not coping well and neither is his family.

The Red Thread is told from Jesse’s view point and what a stark, dark place it is.  If you don’t have depression or know of a person with depression, reading…no listening to Jesse’s thoughts will help bring some understanding to the darkness and pain a person suffering must go through.  Also his family who are clearly tiptoeing around him having no idea how to handle the situation or Jesse himself.

Ellis paints such a poignant, clear picture of what depression can do to a person and the people around them here.  The high points, the fighting against the constant lows, the medications, adjusting of medications.  Its a struggle and winning is not assured.    Sometimes its hard to remain a friend of the person who has depression because its hard to keep struggling with them.  The reader will fight that fight as well as some of Jesse’s friends.  I thought to convey that part of depression was pretty brave here, to risk alienating your readers by being authentic and true to the disease that has overwhelmed Jesse from birth.  Its so heartbreaking.  Then Adam Foster enters the scene.

Adam, the man with a stutter who captures Jesse’s heart.  And ours.  They have a sweet meet and their romance is a thread here that we can connect with but really, that’s not the story. Their romance runs like a lovely layer overtop the story that consumes the book.

This story belongs to Jesse and his struggle with depression.  Its not going away.  There are no miracle cures.  No HEA.  Bravo to Bryan Ellis for not trying to give us one.  He gives us reality instead.  Life’s a struggle, you go on the best you  can with people who love and support you, if you are lucky. That honesty makes this story.  And Jesse.  The Red Thread by Bryan Ellis is a wonderful story that shouldn’t be missed.  I highly recommend it even if it leaves your heart feeling a little sadder as you will feel more understanding of what someone with depression is going through.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Cover art is simple and perfect.  The red thread has a deep meaning here and its conveyed beautifully.

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Book Details:

ebook, 256 pages
Expected publication: September 2nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777247 (ISBN13: 9781634777247)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review: Love On The East End by Lily Sawyer


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Love on the East End  coverWhen restauranteur Gabriel Meyer needs several cases of wine for an event, William Thomas, owner of Rolling Hills Winery comes to his rescue with the necessary vintage and the offer of a date.  One magical date later leads to others with Gabriel and William find themselves falling hard for the other. One night, on their way home, the two men come across a young man desperate to end his life. Ben Stewart has been bullied over his sexuality until one incident at school pushed him over the edge.  William and Gabriel vow to help Ben and stop the bullying. But as Gabriel and William discover love on the east end of Long Island, a larger threat looms.  Hatred and bigotry personified visits the island and targets Ben.  Can the men rescue Ben and find the love they have always wanted with each other?

Love on The East End is an interesting romance with a lot of heart  but not the same amount of depth.  Lily Sawyer has created some lovely men for her story.  Both Gabriel Meyer and William Thomas have followed their dreams and chosen careers to Long Island where one has established a restaurant and the other a winery.  Both are well educated gay men, content in their lives and missing only love and romance.  They meet in a realistic fashion and fall in love.  It’s all very sweet, containing little drama or suspense.  We know how this is going to end from the moment they meet.  They go on walks and romantic getaways but it’s all sort of bland.  There is nothing about the descriptions or dialog to bring us intimately into their lives or spice up things and unfortunately, this includes the sex scenes.  True, Gabriel has an ex-wife, but she’s lovely and a friend to them both, which I have to admit is refreshing.  I liked her.

The only aspect of this story that brings an element of angst is the story of Ben Stewart, a young gay teenager being bullied to the point of suicide.  This was my favorite section of this book.  Ben is heartbreaking and realistically characterized.  I wish Sawyer would have concentrated more on Ben and the men’s relationship to him as friends and mentors.  It is also where I found my most frustrations.  The bullies hurting Ben are at school but Sawyer brings in an outside threat that takes away focus from the school and Ben’s problems there. Had the focus remained on Ben and the high school situation, so often in the news these days, then this story would have come across as more timely and relevant.  As it is, the attack that did occur struck me as less than realistic, considering the time and venue.  Still, Ben, Gabriel, William and Ben’s mother’s handling of the situation is well done and satisfying to the reader.

Love On the East End is a short story at 96 pages and a sweet one.  It is a quick read and a lovely way to spend the time.  I think you all would enjoy it

The cover for this book is gorgeous.  Absolutely one of my favorites but my copy of the book did not include the name of the cover artist who definitely deserves recognition for this lovely cover.

Book Details:

96 pages