Author: Alexa Land
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/23/2016
Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)
Genre: Gay Romance
Zachary’s life is careening toward disaster.
At just 24, he’s had to do whatever it takes to survive, including selling his body, and the ways he’s found to escape from his bleak reality are destroying him.
On one of the worst nights of his life, Zachary meets TJ, a broken man with demons of his own. A former drug addiction and time in prison took him from his son Trevor at a young age and left TJ crippled with guilt. He thinks he can help Zachary though, not that he wants to be helped.
It takes hitting rock bottom for Zachary to reach out to TJ, the one person he thinks will understand. Neither is expecting the attraction that flares between them, not with their substantial age difference, and certainly not while drowning in a sea of pain and regret. In the process of healing, both begin to discover so much more than they ever dreamed possible.
But does love stand a chance between two lost souls who are convinced they’re damaged beyond repair?
Who I Used to Be is the twelfth book in Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts and Forever series, but each book is written to stand alone, so jump in anywhere. This gay contemporary romance is approximately 113,000 words in length. It contains explicit language and graphic sex and is intended for adults only.
Alexa Land has built a world in her Firsts and Forever series that is sparkly and always ends well. It may not represent real life but it is a fantastic place to disappear into every now and again. Who I Used to Be felt different to the rest of the series – it had a more serious storyline, it was a little darker and bleaker than Alexa usually writes – there were still plenty of shenanigans that usually involved Nana but they were more spread out as the more serious story of Zachary and TJ stayed at the forefront.
Zachary, as we know from previous books, disappears every now and again for a couple of days and there seemed to be a silent agreement from his friends that they wouldn’t push too much to find out what he was doing. By the time they realise exactly what he is up to things have gotten out of control. Zachary has spent a lot of time kidding himself, his excuses to himself seem to make sense, and he has everything under control – until suddenly he doesn’t. His spiral downwards is quick, painful and addictive. He is hit with so many emotions – he is lost, he is scared and he is ashamed but he is still strong enough to ask for help.
TJ is Trevor’s dad and he has only just reconnected with his son after years of addiction and time spent in prison. TJ lives with the shame from his past and the uncertainty of his future. He may have found his son after all the years they lost together but he feels like he’s always on the outside – he never feels needed or wanted but his guilt stops him from making things right. When he finds Zachary collapsed on his doorstep he knows exactly where the much younger man’s head is at but more importantly he has first-hand knowledge that allows him to offer his help.
The romance here is slow burn due mainly to the circumstances they find themselves in but there is also the age gap to deal with. TJ isn’t sure about having a lover the same age as his son but it soon becomes obvious that it’s unavoidable as Zachary starts to open up TJ’s life in ways he never thought possible. As dark as this story is Zachary and TJ seem perfect for each other – they are almost like an old married couple before the first kiss.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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