Lincoln McCaw lost everything -- his home, his job, his partner -- after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he's drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.
Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything -- a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Guilt, Forgiveness, Learning to live with the past
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3 flames
Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the author and I loved her first novel More.
When Sloan Parker's work hadn't already been on my Must-Read-List then the premise of Breathe - widower and ‘murderer’ of his wife meet and fall in love - would've piqued my interest and made me want to read this book for sure. Although I must admit that I also stood a little bit in fear of the execution: can an author succeed in pulling this off without it turning into claptrap? After all, it’s such a heavy and difficult topic, and it's probably much easier to take this over the top than to write a balanced novel about it. However, to my relief and utter reading pleasure, Ms Parker did succeed gloriously in making this a balanced story and in avoiding any suspicion that she was straining after effect. Sure, it had its emotional moments (and I love those in my romances) but these never became of the cheap tear jerking kind. And instead of zooming in on the pain, hate and revengeful feelings, this story was more about forgiving, dealing with guilt and getting on with your life after something painful, dramatic and life altering has happened.
Without wanting to give too much away of the plot, this story is about two guys meeting and falling in lust, having sex and subsequently finding out that one of them caused the deathly accident of the wife of the other man about a year ago. Notwithstanding this shared tragic incident, Lincoln and Jay feel good again for the first time since the accident when they're together. Their encounter, Jay's forgiving nature and their joint search for the source of the threats addressed to Lincoln, lead to a fragile friendship at first and a continuing of their sexual meetings. Gradually a relationship starts to build, one which is utterly believable, despite their shared history. It is made understandable why these men are good for each other, why they can - for the first time since the accident - be themselves again (instead of just 'the widower' or 'the murderer'), how contradicting this may sound. Yet, they struggle with their attraction and their feelings.
As a reader you can't help but sympathize with both heroes, thanks to the author's skillful way of depicting them and their conflict. Both are great, loveable characters, who have their flaws but are basically good-hearted and honest men. And these well-developed main protags are surrounded by quite some other characters. Together they form an interesting cast with each their unique characteristics and roles to play. The secondary characters not only give the two heroes more depth, make their struggle and conflict more tangible, they also are important to make the suspense arc work.
This suspense arc, mainly consisting of the search for the sender of the serious threats Lincoln receives, is an added bonus to the plot. It makes the story all the more balanced by helping the relationship move forward. But as a plot thread in itself it also works very well. It keeps you guessing - or maybe it was just me because I kept guessing wrong. ;) Anyhow, I thought the plot was very cleverly developed and perfectly paced.
This makes Breathe as much a plot driven novel as a character driven one, and that's just how I like them best!
I was already impressed with Ms Parker's debut More (and her two free stories) but this second novel truly confirmed her writing talent to me. Her skillful plotting, her handling a difficult topic so well, her ability to create real, three-dimensional characters, her talent to write meaningful, yet super hot sex scenes and her skill to make my heart ache and let me sigh in relief in the end, all convinced me of this. It’s probably needless to say that I'm already jonesing for her next book.
Sloan Parker’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook
Buy Breathe here
Find her free story ‘More Than Just A Good Book’ here
Find her free story ‘A Lesson in Truth’ here
Read Sloan's guest post 'One Author's POV on POV' here
Read her guest post about creating the characters for Breathe here
Read my 'High 5, Low 5' review of More here