Author: Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Melody Pond
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/11/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
For paramedic Adam Carson, his world is lights and sirens and saving lives. Pressures at work keep him firmly in the closet, and life is too busy to contend with the complications that come with dating and relationships. When a familiar face from his past turns up where he least expects it, Adam starts to question whether or not there is room in his life for those complications.
The last person forensic pathologist Sam McKenna expects to see at pub night is Adam, the guy who made his life hell in high school. The attraction is instant, but Adam isn’t gay and Sam has no interest in pursuing him. Still, the leftover animosity from their teenage years isn’t enough to extinguish the lust growing between them. After both are called to the scene of a horrific murder, Adam admits he’s not as straight as he led Sam to believe and they seek comfort and distraction in each other’s arms. One night becomes many as the murder investigation intensifies, but when Adam is faced with losing Sam, he is forced to make a choice: to break his silence, or to give up everything for the job he loves.
Adam Carson used to bully Sam McKenna in high school, calling him “Dexter” because he was a science nerd – and because his real first name was actually Dexter. Now Adam is a paramedic and Sam is a forensic pathologist –at the same hospital, it turns out.
Sam is horrified to realize that he feels the same sort of attraction to the big brooding Carson that he did as a teenager, but since Adam appears to be as straight as he was in school, Sam just puts it aside. The truth is, however, that Adam is simply closeted, as he was in high school, maintaining a thin façade of heterosexuality out of fear for what his co-workers on the ambulance squad might think.
Bless Cate Ashwood for understanding the emotional complexities of being gay in a world that pretends to be different from what it was a generation ago (when I came out). In this back-and-forth point of view, we learn that boys who don’t conform to the stereotypes of what gay looks like can have a harder time adjusting to who they are. Sam was hurt by Adam’s bullying, but it ultimately made him stronger and gave him a self-assurance that has served him well. Adam didn’t really understand what his taunting of Sam masked, and is still not willing to place his emotional well-being above his professional standing among his peers. Sam’s fear of emotional pain and Adam’s fear of exposure are two sides of a similar coin. The real enemy is uncertainty – that same fear of the unknown that has kept gay men lonely and isolated forever.
Ashwood skillfully manipulates a standard bumpy-road-to-romance narrative and invests it with two characters who, each in his own way, is a good man, dedicated to making the world a better place with his hard-won professional skills. Sam’s open-and-proud worldview, forced on him by his own youthful nerdiness, is the counterpoint to Adam’s gloomy paranoia, deeply entrenched because of his ability to pass. The conflict caused by their attraction to each other is enabled by Sam’s generosity of spirit, his willingness to sacrifice for Adam’s psychological well-being. A horrible, unjust murder brings them together, but it is Adam’s anxieties that remains as the ultimate threat to their mutual happiness.
The problems with this book are pretty endemic to many m/m romances: we see that these two handsome men are seriously drawn to each other; but we don’t really understand why they grow to like each other so much beyond the sexual part of it. I would have liked Ashwood to spend more time on who these guys were beyond their professionalisms and their good looks.
Also, I am always annoyed when the cliffhanger mode is used to lure the reader into a second book. The characters and the writing should do that – and for the most part, they do in “A Forced Silence.” The quietly abrupt ending to the book indicates a sequel, but so do various unresolved plot twists. I could readily imagine where the next book will take us, and while I look forward to it, I can’t help but feel a little resentful that we had to be tricked into it.
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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