Title : Recovery
Series : Salvage Stories, Book 2
Author : Con Riley
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY IT HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 220 pages (e-book)
Published : May 19, 2014
Rating : ★★★★1/2
San Diego is a city of second chances for Jamie Carlson. His new career as a photographer is taking off, and with the support of a loving surrogate family, he’s finally putting his party years behind him. The Bailey family helped him solve his drinking problem, but there’s no easy solution to staying sober now that Belle Bailey’s dying. Her last wish is a challenge Jamie can’t overcome without help.
Solving problems is Daniel Priest’s specialty. More than twenty years older than Jamie, he’s successful and experienced. He makes his living resolving corporate crises—but his personal life has been far from perfect. Now that his marriage is over, Daniel’s determined to make up for lost time. One night with Jamie isn’t nearly enough for him.
Daniel’s honest offer of help is more than Jamie expects from a one-time hookup. Even so, fulfilling Belle’s last wish is a tall order. Repairing her damaged family as she requests proves difficult when Jamie has to face his own past as well. Jamie could risk his hard-won recovery by admitting why he hit rock bottom in the first place. If he wants a future with Daniel, he’ll have to address those reasons head-on.
We briefly met Jamie in the first book of the series, Salvage, as Gabe’s best friend since childhood. He was irresponsible, thoughtless and selfish to begin with, but was trying to make reparations for his past behaviour at the end of that book.
In Recovery Jamie, at twenty-eight, has been sober for a year with the support of his original sponsor, Alec Bailey, and Alec’s wife Belle – people Jamie has come to think of as the parents of his heart. The couple’s grown son, Owen, has been semi-estranged from his father for years, in spite of Alec’s years of sobriety. Owen seems incapable of moving past the hurts of his childhood due to his father’s alcoholism. As a consequence, Jamie and Owen have a somewhat adversarial relationship. Jamie can see how much Alec loves his son and feels nothing but remorse for the pain his son endured during those years. Owen has little sympathy for Jamie, his perceptions coloured by his own childhood experiences with his father’s alcohol abuse, hampering Jamie’s attempts at reconciling father and son.
Not long after the Baileys welcome Jamie into their lives like a second son, Belle was diagnosed with brain tumour. Now almost a year later, they had all hoped that battle had been won, but the treatments have not worked as well as they had wished for and the prognosis is not good. This is the point where Recovery picks up the story.
It’s during the launch party for Alec’s new magazine publication that Jamie meets Daniel. They click from the beginning, even with an almost twenty-year age gap. It’s an age difference that never really comes into play between them, even though Daniel’s daughter from his almost thirty year marriage with his ex-wife is a year older than Jamie. That’s written as very believable. They truly come together as equals and Jamie’s past experiences and his battle with alcoholism give him a realistic maturity by this point in his life. Both Daniel and Jamie have little experience when it comes to dating, but they each recognise in the other the person they wish to spend their life with, although the realisation of it comes a little slower. It did feel as though the foundation of their developing relationship was comfort and sex and I found myself wishing that a couple of the sex scenes, as hot as they were, had been replaced with ones showing the reader the MCs getting to know each other on all levels, not just burning up the sheets. I had got a pretty good sense of who Daniel was even with the POV being only from Jamie, and I liked him, but I hadn’t got much of a sense of Daniel and Jamie as a couple. They’d either been around one or more of the Baileys or, every time they’d been alone, it was about sex and not them just spending time together getting to know each other and interacting with each other in ways other than sex. I did finally get that scene, and even with how that particular scene ended, getting to see them just talking and interacting, letting each other and telling their pasts, was exactly what I was feeling the lack of so much previously.
For the most part, the writing was very good, but there was a bit of a propensity to jump over important events and then telling what happened after the fact which made the story feel a bit disjointed and over-explained at times. I liked the sub-theme of redemption between father and son with Alec and Owen. It was sensitively dealt with, becoming neither soap operish nor blasé. The majority of the book has a gentle, even pace that gathered all the plot threads together as it went, bringing them together nicely. The characters were good. I liked both the MCs, and the secondary character of Owen and his journey back to his father is interesting and, at times, heart-wrenching. I’m guessing Owen is being set up to be one of the MCs of the next book in the series. I hope so, anyway! Belle’s battle with her cancer and how her family dealt with it was beautifully done. Her scrapbook was absolutely brilliant. Beautiful and brilliant. You’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about, but I’m sure you’ll agree when you do.
This isn’t Jamie and Daniel’s love story, although their romance is definitely there. It isn’t even Jamie’s story alone in some ways, even though it is told solely from his POV. It’s Belle’s story. And Owen’s. And Alec’s. It’s about the things that tear families apart and the things that bring them back together. It’s about battles fought, some lost and some won. It’s about forgiveness and redemption and love. Above all else, this book is about love; in all its forms.
“He wondered as he wiped his eyes if a brand-new star – bigger and brighter than all the others – had just appeared among them.”
Rated 4.5 stars by BookSmitten