I love books from all genres, but right now I'm on a mystery, contemporary, and YA kick. I have two cats, Monkey and Peepers.
So this is the second book dealing with Ash and Pete as a couple and the aftermath of Ash’s mental breakdown. I think I went in to this with the idea that Ash and Pete would explore their romance more or have typical romance book issues. But that’s certainly not what I read, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all, just not what I was expecting. However, I probably shouldn’t have had any preconceived notions as Ash and Pete have a very special and strong connection, so their issues or problems are mostly from outside sources causing them conflict.
This novel, like the last, alternates POVs between tattoo artist, Ash and his lover, EMT, Pete. Ash has just returned to Chicago after a visit to Philadelphia with his friend, Ellie. It was there, in Philadelphia, that Ash draws a picture of a beautiful woman – a woman who he wonders might be a part of his past.
Upon his return, numerous life changes happen for the men. There’s the new apartment, Pete considering a career change (one that won’t be so sad and take him away from Ash), a birthday, and the two of them making a conscious effort to talk about their thoughts, emotions and what might be making them either happy or upset. There is a lot of family drama, many manic actions, ups and downs of emotions, and that’s just in the first part. Truthfully, the first part wasn’t my fave. Unfortunately, due to spoilers, I can’t really explain why, but I’ll say that the outside conflict didn’t hold my interest and felt too far-fetched. It all felt like a string of coincidences and that threw me out of their story. Also, this is just my personal reaction to the events, but the first part and Pete’s job was just so damn depressing. The book doesn’t sugarcoat death or abuse etc. And because so much of what Pete and Ash were dealing with didn’t involve each of them discussing things as a couple, I felt distanced from them. Ash dealt or thought about his issues in his head (that included the mysterious woman from Philadelphia) and Pete thought about his troubles in his own head. It makes sense if I think about it, these two men still learning that they can lean on each other and they don’t have to handle things by themselves, and them coming together in the second part.
Which leads me to the second part and a terrible accident with a character, that again requires some suspension of disbelief. That is where the story shifted for me, the love between Pete and Ash came alive, and I fell in love with them. The reader sees the characters’ roles switch slightly and Ash grows and his strength is a beautiful thing to read. Ash needs to trust himself, he has to actually have hope for something in his life, and that trust and hope needs to be strong for Pete. It was pretty heartbreaking and I just imagined how lost both of them felt at different times and how badly they wanted things to go back to the way they were before. The sketching on the couch at Pete’s mom’s house also really touched me.
Overall, I liked this. I wasn’t happy with the overall plot or the way some of the secondary characters developed, but I really do love Ash and Pete. They just have a special connection that I feel. I’m not sure why, but I often read them imagining them in this little snow globe while the world goes about their business outside of that glass. They just have this solid love for each other despite everything working its way to tear them apart. Some beautiful writing when it comes to their interactions.
I’ll read more about this couple for sure.