Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review: What Once Was Lost by A.M. Leibowitz

What Once Was LostBlurb:

When their son goes missing on a camping trip, Brook and Casey are given a chance to make amends for their past mistakes with each other.

Following a volatile break-up with his partner, Casey has been raising his son, Ryan, mostly on his own. While Ryan is on a camping trip in the Adirondacks, Casey and Brook make another attempt to work through their differences, with disastrous results. But when Ryan and his friend disappear in the mountains, Casey and Brook travel together to find him. The tension leads to an opportunity to listen to each other, reconcile their history, and recover the love they once shared.

My rating:

Thank you, dear author, for yet again writing a story about a bisexual character, whose sexuality plays a role in the plot.

And thank you for writing a story that's more slice of life, instead of a hot and heavy all-encompassing romance, by choosing two characters who have history together. Who once were a family, until one (or really both) of them blew it.

Casey and Brook used to be a couple, raising Ryan (son of Casey's late sister and Brook's late brother) together for years, until Brook did a bad, bad thing, and they broke up.

Their relationship, what's left of it, is rather volatile, made so by Brook's betrayal and Casey's inability to move on, and we can infer from the start that there are a lot of angry, hurt feelings at play. Both have tried to be somewhat civil for Ryan's sake, but putting Casey and Brook into the same room is akin to lighting a fuse to a powder keg.

The plot device that compels Casey and Brook to put their considerable differences aside made sense within the story, and I liked how the author uses Ryan's disappearance from the camping grounds as a reason for Casey and Brook to spend time together and being forced to actually listen to each other - hearing what the other is saying, without blowing up, and seeing that perhaps they are both at fault, which is so often the case in failed relationships.

The author uses a common misconception - bisexuals might stray to the opposite sex of their chosen mate at any time - and makes it that this is really just that, a misconception, showing that monogamy is certainly possible. Because, why wouldn't it be? It's a choice, after all, right? Ze then turns that misconception right on its head by making the gay character the cheater (and boy, did Brook's explanation have me all riled up).

Additionally, the author shows that communication in a relationship is key - in ANY relationship - and that not taking the time to talk to each other can be rather detrimental, indeed. Still, A.M. Leibowitz never gets preachy on a soap box about what ze is trying to bring across - these are all conclusions I drew from hir dialogue and narrative.

I also liked that the author took us from angry revenge sex at the beginning to comfort sex in the middle to what smacked of make-up sex toward the ending. None of the scenes appeared gratuitous in nature, but their circumstances and description fit the point of the MCs' relationship at the time they took place.

And I very much enjoyed reading Ryan, who was featured at the beginning and end and whose reaction to the revelations in this book seemed accurate and understandable for his age. He came across as a typical teenager, and while he was in danger, and did get hurt, I didn't feel as if he was being used, if you will, to get the two men back together.

What I especially liked is that this story, like the previous one I read by this author, does not end in a neatly tied up bow, but instead on a hopeful, positive note, showing that, while the two MCs still have some heavy stuff to work through, there is possibly a reconciliation on the horizon (as expected, because this is after all a romance, right?)

Nicely done!! I look forward to more by this author.

** I received a free copy of this book, provided by the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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