Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Neil Dalton’s foundation is already cracking. Grief, guilt, and PTSD have ruled his life since a terrible crime tore his world apart last year, and he’s dreading a holiday visit with the family he simultaneously needs and resents. Then someone from his past shows up and rattles that shaky foundation right out from under him.
First a war nearly destroyed Jeremy Kelley, then his family threw him out when he needed them the most. Now he’s barely holding on emotionally. He spends his last dollar to get to Chicago and prays his former best friend won’t leave him out in the cold.
Neil and Jeremy spend the holidays with Neil’s family in their hometown of Omaha. They struggle to deal with families, flashbacks… and feelings that haven’t even begun to fade since their last failed attempt at more than friends. As they try to repair their fractured psyches and rebuild damaged bridges, they rely on each other more than ever, but they can’t deny the mutual attraction that’s existed since before they were both emotionally battered and scarred. If they couldn’t make it work back then, how in the world can they pull it off now?
Childhood friends Neil and Jeremy have not had contact for five years when Jeremy suddenly shows up on Neil’s freezing doorstep in need of a place to stay. These fallen away friends are both dealing with recovery from very different but equally traumatic events and struggle to find their way back to themselves and each other as they deal with obstacles of their troubled past relationship, family rejections, and the demons that constantly haunt them.
There is a great deal to like about this story of two friends who, despite a significant lapse in contact, find comfort and healing in one another’s presence. Alternating first person points of view give the reader an opportunity to see inside each character’s head, which is critical in understanding the internal and external issues they each face. Neil and Jeremy slowly work their way back towards one another as glimpses of their respective pasts are woven into the present narrative, mainly through remembrances of their time as friends and while they were separated. I would have liked a bit more of these opportunities to see their pasts, especially through actual scenes, as their histories both together and apart were of great interest to me. I did like how they gradually open up to one another and begin the long road toward trust, honesty, and healing by each allowing the other to share in and truly see their misery and grief.
The reader is treated to the healing process of PTSD, and the author stresses the importance of getting help without belaboring the point and keeping her characters stress-ridden throughout the entire story. There is growth and softening of the hard edges, but the episodes are still there, hitting hard at unexpected moments. L.A. Witt skillfully balances these dark places with the determination to move on, allowing the story to maintain its forward momentum instead of stagnating in the disorder.
Secondary characters are both maddening and sympathetic. Neil’s parents, in particular, are quite authentic in their flaws and their attempts to understand. Bruce is a tangible presence, clearly defined and dearly missed, and the connection that Neil maintains to his legacy is affecting and emotional.
Overall, this is a touching story filled with heartbreak on many levels. Satisfaction comes as healing begins, and the epilogue in particular is warm, beautiful, and gratifying. I highly recommend From Out in the Cold not only as a lovely holiday read, but also as a romantic story of hope, appropriate and appealing any time of the year.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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