After The End
Title : After The End
Author : Alex Kidwell
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, Romance
Length : 200 pages (e-book)
Published : January 8, 2013
After Quinn O’Malley loses his partner of ten years, Aaron, to cancer, he withdraws from everything. In a single tragic moment, he goes from an artist with a loving partner and a future to an uninspired comic book store owner who barely exists. He hides behind a shield of grief, refusing to let Aaron go. He feels guilty for even trying to imagine a life apart from what he’d had.
The charming party planner Quinn’s best friend insists he meet on a blind date isn’t someone he’s ready for. Brady Banner walks into Quinn’s small frozen world and turns everything upside down. For years, Quinn has focused on endings, but as Brady begins to thaw his existence, Quinn realizes that one moment can do more than stop a life—it can also start a new one.
A wonderfully written warm and heartfelt story about two men falling in love with each other – Quinn is still mourning the death of his partner of ten years and Brady, well, he’s never been in love before.
As the story opens, it’s been 2 years since Quinn’s partner of 10 years, Aaron, has died of cancer. We meet Quinn & Brady for the first time as they are first meeting each other. I found both characters completely endearing from the start, and was really empathizing and rooting for Quinn to move beyond his deep feelings of loss and inability to move forward with his life. I also found myself hoping Brady wouldn’t do something to cause Quinn further pain – and vice versa, as Brady was clearly smitten with Quinn from the start.
The story is told from Quinn’s pov, which make his reactions that much more relatable, since we are in touch with his inner dialogue. Although, I must say at times it would have been interesting to know just what was going on in Brady’s mind while he was dealing with Quinn’s ups and downs.
Though obviously attracted to Brady, Quinn is simply unable to deal with his conflicting feelings of attraction and his grief. Aaron was everything to Quinn, and he still feels him everywhere. He can’t help but compare his current dates with Brady to what the same experiences would have been like with Aaron, he also feels guilty for enjoying himself with and being attracted to Brady at all. There is a highly realistic quality to Quinn’s emotions (grief, guilt, confusion, more guilt) and reactions (anxiety, distancing, nausea, shutting himself off from his life and his work as an artist). Unfortunately Quinn’s parents passed away when he was younger and he has had no immediate family to help him cope since Aaron’s death. Quinn goes into tailspin. I was getting slightly annoyed with Quinn, and was nearly screaming at him to seek professional help when he finally made a break through (thanks to Brady’s intervention) after several days shut away in his apartment. Throughout all of this Brady remains genuinely sweet, kind, supportive, understanding, and patient. Brady’s family and how they rally together during a family emergency – and include Quinn so seamlessly – is an important aspect to the story. Maybe something Quinn had missed having when Aaron was ill and passed away?
The secondary characters of Tracy and Annabeth – a married couple who are close friends of Quinn’s, and the ones who introduced him to Brady- were very likeable and came across as mature, caring and understanding friends rather than the meddlesome “we know best” types found in so many stories.
This story does not get bogged down in angst and conflict, but progresses steadily towards Quinn embracing his relationship with Brady and the fact that he can love -indeed that it’s quite simply OK to love again – without having to banish Aaron from his heart. I really liked how Quinn’s artistic creativity was inspired and re-kindled by Brady’s presence in his life – very believable and moving. The story doesn’t spend a lot of time on sex, but these scenes are wonderfully written and explored emotionally. The first time Quinn makes love to Brady is extraordinary.
I did have a few niggles with the story…what happened professionally for Quinn after his seemingly successful art showing and re-emergence into the art world? I also couldn’t help but think Quinn would have been closer to at least one of the people employed at his store, but they were hardly mentioned.
None of these issues seriously detracted from an overall beautifully written and heartwarming story. I must add that the cover is beautiful, and very fitting. 🙂 I’ll be looking for more from this author.
Rated 4 stars by Dianne