Saturday, February 20, 2016

ARC Review: Ollie Always by John Wiltshire

Ollie Always
From the blurb:

Named after the main character in his mother’s infamous Oliver novels, Ollie’s been fighting his fictional namesake his whole life. It’s a battle for identity he is slowly and inevitably losing. Ex-army PTI Tom knows all about battles—the real ones that break soldiers. When he volunteers to help with the Oliver situation, Ollie hears more in the offer than Tom apparently intends, for Tom quickly informs Ollie that he’s married. Which is absolutely fine, because Ollie isn’t gay—that’s Oliver. Tom and Ollie discover fairly swiftly that there is often a very fine dividing line between fact and fiction.

Heather's rating:

Ollie Always was my first experience with John Wiltshire but I guarantee you that it won't be my last.

This book really stood out among other books in the M/M genre. First of all, the writing was beautiful, just dreamily romantic and very atmospheric. I was right there with these guys in the New Zealand countryside, and I got right into the zone with this story.

My 3.5 stars is pretty deceptive because this book was something special. Though the overall tone was serious and angsty, it had some really funny parts and some great dialogue between the two MCs. It was an interesting mix of romance and literature, with a plot line that I found to be extremely well conceived.

The first part of the story, until about 60%, actually, was a solid 3-stars. Though the writing was flowing and lovely, I found the pace to be a bit off and Ollie's whole "I'm attracted to guys but not gay" thing to be confusing. I still adored the concept of the plot-line, but I found that my mind wandering a bit and I wasn't sure where the story would lead.

Now, maybe I'm just not the most perceptive person, but I found this book to be anything but predictable. From 60% to about 80%, I was riveted and near crying at all times. I actually read that section while I was at the gym, and I spent that time exercising and wiping tears off my face like a crazy person. That part of the book was 5-stars for me. It was exciting, uplifting, heart-breaking... everything.

After the high of that part of the story, the ending just seemed to peter out a bit. I was happy to see the progress of Ollie and Tom, but it grew a little long-winded, IMO.

I found this book to be such an interesting character study. I could spend ages just thinking about the relationship between Ollie and his mother, or Tom and his coping mechanisms. The characters were really well done and very multifaceted.

For those reader who love sex-on-page, don't look to this story. While sex acts are alluded to, they are described more in the style as if this book was a non-romance fiction that just happened to have a short sex scene: the details are glossed over, and what is included in mostly referred to in metaphors.

Also, for those of you afraid from the blurb, this book had no cheating, just an FYI.

Ollie Always was a beautiful, complicated story about two men finding themselves and making a lot of mistakes along the way. I think it was a very worthwhile read, and it put John Wiltshire on my to-watch list.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Catch ya later!

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