Sonny Lakes is as lost as a person can be. After being discharged from the US Army following a traumatic event, he’s sent home, where unbearable nightmares and deep despair lead him to attempt to take his own life, a choice that puts him on the path to a new home in a new town where no one knows him. But as Sonny tries to settle in, mysterious vandalism and harassment begin to take over his life, destroying the anonymity he craves.
Abe Ellis has lived his whole life in Sweetshade, Texas, and that kind of loyalty lends itself well to being a small-town cop. His quiet life changes when a handsome newcomer moves into town and unlikely events begin to unfold. As Abe and his partner Nate begin looking into the crimes, Nate grows increasingly suspicious of the stranger with no history, no enemies, and few friends, to whom Abe is so drawn.
Can Sonny’s faith in himself be restored in time to find the love and stability he seeks? Can Abe count on his instincts and trust the young man with his safety and his heart?
Sweetshade is a small town, as calm and inviting as the name suggests. But even places like that can hide sinister secrets and dangerous threats.
Warning: PTSD, suicide attempt
This is the author's sophomore effort and the first book in a new series.
The book includes the various effects of PTSD, including mentions of suicide, so heed the trigger warning.
Sonny Lakes was a medic in the US Army and honorably discharged after a traumatic event happened while he was serving overseas. When we first meet Sonny, we're not given full info on what the trauma was, but we are immediately aware that he's suffering from PTSD. Frequent nightmares and nearly unbearable survivor's guilt have tormented him to the point of a suicide attempt. While he's in getting help for the PTSD, Sonny feels that it's in his best interest to start over, in a place where no one knows him and he has to fend for himself. Which is what brings him to Sweetshade, TX, where he's buying a house and hoping to find a church that will accept him as he is.
Abe Ellis is a cop in Sweetshade and immediately intrigued by the newcomer to his town. Gay and single, Abe lives a relatively quiet life in his small town, where nothing much happens and everyone knows everyone. When he has an itch to scratch, he usually finds someone outside of town, and that suits him just fine.
Soon after Sonny moves into the house he purchased, he starts being harassed for his sexuality. At first, it's minor vandalism - an ugly word spray-painted on the garage door - but the harassment escalates with each subsequent act.
Abe's partner cop Nate is suspicious of Sonny. He doesn't quite believe that the harassment is actually happening and thinks that Sonny might be doing these things himself for attention.
I quite liked this book. The author did a nice job exploring Sonny's PTSD episodes, his overall feelings of guilt and his continued suffering from the trauma he experienced, as well as Abe's attempts at getting to know the other man and having to defend him and himself to Nate's suspicions. It was clear to me early on who the villain would be - it was rather obvious. Even so, it's not obvious to the cops, so the events become more and more dangerous and escalate into violence.
While it was easy to like and root for Sonny, I didn't get a full picture for Abe. He seemed like a nice guy, sure, and he was pretty steadfast in his defense of Sonny for the most part, even if he screwed up a time or two, and his actions were understandable to me. Sonny's distrust is just as understandable as well, and the thing that caused the conflict between them felt realistic to me.
The author has a well-rounded writing style, focused on showing the reader what's going on with the characters and letting dialogue take the place of narrative to move the plot along. This book didn't affect me as deeply as the first one, but it's definitely worth your time, so check it out.
** I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **
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