My Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
This is a sinuous, sensuous story in which Shane and his brother older brother Jason are working two and three jobs each, desperate to get out from under a mountain of debt. They are so close they can almost taste the freedom, but still not close enough. How they came to be in such debt is a slow and serpentine reveal, a trip to very dark places for vulnerable human hearts to survive.
Noel is new to Stratton, PA, a policeman but not out. The Cost of Repairs series is set in the same town, but this is a standalone. (I have put this series on my TBR pile, yes, indeed) Late one night, Noel answers a loud disturbance call and finds Shane, working as a stripper, drugged up and tied to a bed; the women at the party are apparently clueless as to how he got that way. There’s something about Shane he can’t get out of his mind, and Shane is having the same problem about Noel.
Noel has a few dark spots in his life, also. His friend Tristan resides in a long-term care facility because of a gay bashing. He barely escaped with his life but totally lost his short-term memory. He has to constantly write things down in order to keep up with the memory fade that occurs every fifteen minutes or so. Noel visits him once a week and is a good, supportive friend, taking him out for day trips and lunches.
On one of these outings, Noel runs into Shane again as he works his second job in a local deli. Meeting him again reinforces their initial attraction, and they end up getting together. At first their sexual encounter seems exactly the right thing to do, but later they both start to regret it. It’s awkward, and there once had seemed to be potential for more. Slowly they begin to build towards trust and a relationship, but Shane’s situation starts its downward spiral when his brother becomes ill. Removing the debt becomes the most important thing right now, more important than relationships and love. Despite Shane’s determination, Noel isn’t ready to give up on him and despite his own damage. Thank goodness.
This was a great story, dark and complicated, just the way I love it. Deeply layered and well plotted, the writing clear and tight.