Title : Seeing Red
Author : E.L. Esch
Publisher : Loose Id (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Mystery, Suspense
Length : 260 pages (e-book)
Published : July 16, 2013
Rating : ★★★1/2
What would you do if you lost five years of freedom? If everything you’d ever known was torn away from you, all because the one person you counted on to save you didn’t come through?
This is the cruel reality for Gabriel “Red” Thatcher, convicted at age nineteen for the murder of his father. Now twenty-five and eight months out of prison, Red has nothing to his name and no one to help him. He is carrying close to him a rage hotter than white flames. Had his sister just testified on his behalf in court, he could have been spared the horrible things that happened to him in the doghouse. Things that’ll make him never look at intimacy the same way again.
Red can’t take swallowing his bitter rage alone anymore. Unable to kill the growing loneliness and ire with time, he heads into the Flower District in search of a gay bar to drown his sorrows. There he meets the bubbly, easy-on-the-eyes Silo Winters.
When Red learns that Silo did three years in prison for an accidental oil fire, he brings Silo home, not so much for a wild romp as to relieve his aching loneliness. Besides if anyone will understand Red’s pain it’ll be Silo, who’s gone through some of the same horrors he has. However, he definitely doesn’t count on Silo becoming so much more than a sexy shoulder to lean on. Now, if only Red can learn to let him in.
Eight months after Gabriel Thatcher, known as Red, gained his freedom, he finds himself struggling to find a job and regain his life. After a lifetime of trying to protect himself and his younger sister, Mila, from the abuse of their alcoholic father, he’s forced to do the unthinkable when his father goes on a violent rampage. He mightn’t be in jail any longer, but he still carries the scars on his back from his father and memories of five years of the cruelty he was subjected to in prison.
When the feeling of isolation and frustration gets too much he heads to a popular gay bar in the Flower District to take his mind off what his life had become. Uninterested in meaningless sex and still psychologically damaged from the rapes he suffered whilst in prison, Red has no desire to pick someone up. Silo Winters has other ideas. Red is happy to chat with Silo, he even finds himself flirting a little with the attractive man who approached him, but he has no intention of anything going further than that. But when Red learns that Silo was recently released from three years in jail charged with arson that was in fact a freak accident and has spent the month since sleeping in a friend’s car, he finds it impossible to say no when Silo asks to go home with him, although he refuses the offer of payment in sex.
Feeling a connection from their shared understandings of what each has experienced, Red allows Silo to move into the crummy apartment his sister is paying for while Red finds his feet. Silo states his interest right from the start, but Red can’t forget that easily. Eventually friendship does bloom into romance, one that could be lasting if only if Red can let go of his pain and allow himself to love.
Although a bit uneven at times and with a few inconsistencies, the author delivers mostly solid writing with complex and interesting characters that I quickly came to care about. When we first meet Red, his defences are well and truly up. He’s so prickly and rightfully angry at his sister. The pain that’s in both brother and sister is just heartbreaking. I truly hoped they’d see their way through it and regain the closeness they once had. I felt so much for both of them and the experiences caused by their father both in life and death, but especially for Red. When he told Mila what had happened to him in prison, the anger and hurt and love he felt towards her was just so evident.
I freaking adored Silo. He had such an infectiously bubbly personality. Easy going, but not a pushover. Joyful, mischievous and playful despite his past. Not unaffected by the time spent in jail and what was done to him there, but with an amazing resilience and determination to not allow it to control him. I was so glad when Red realised he loved him, even if he wasn’t ready to admit it to Silo straight away.
Red, as the narrator, really grew throughout the book as he learned to let to of his anger and bitterness. I loved Silo’s nickname of Crayon for Red and wish it had continued to be used instead of being replaced with generic endearments. I liked the slow development of their relationship. My favourite scene where Silo takes a disheartened Red to a field in the middle of the city he used to go to as a kid and ended with a wonderful kiss in the pouring rain was just delightful and showed perfectly how well their personalities complimented each others.
The first three quarters of the book was really strong. Great characterisation, good story development and believable actions. This was very close to a four star book for me. The last quarter of the book wasn’t as strong; the whole secret admirer scenario seemed a bit manufactured, easy to spot a mile off and not really necessary. If it was going to be in there, it needed to be done with more conviction to have any real impact. The whole thing felt a bit rushed in an effort to tie up the ending in a neat little bow.
Overall, I did enjoy it. I liked the MCs and was invested in what happened to them and their relationship. I’m glad their relationship had a bit of a slow build with Red’s reluctance for meaningless sex. There was enough drama and conflict, internal and external, to keep things moving along without getting too melodramatic. The subject of their times in prison and the violence they were subjected to wasn’t too in your face, but was still dealt with without being flippant. I loved the connection the MCs had with each other and when things did get going in the romance department, the sex scenes were pretty hot.
Rated 3.5 stars by BookSmitten