Thursday, January 2, 2020

Jay Hogan - Digging Deep

Drake Park has a complicated life. As a gay male midwife, he’s used to raising eyebrows. Add Crohn’s disease and things get interesting—or not, considering the sad state of his love life. Experience has taught Drake that most men are fair-weather sailors when it comes to handling his condition—gone for dust when things get rough. Staying healthy is a full-time job without adding in any heartbreak, so a little loneliness is a small price to pay. If he says it often enough he might even believe it. One thing for sure, the cop who arrested him isn’t about to change that.
Caleb Ashton does not have a complicated life. A senior detective with the Whangarei Police Department, he likes his job and is good at it. He works hard and plays hard, happy to enjoy as many men as he can while he’s still young enough—or at least he was. These days he feels adrift for the first time in his life, and the only thing sparking his interest—a certain prickly young midwife.
But can Drake find enough faith to risk opening his heart again? And does Caleb have what it takes to cope with the challenges Drake’s condition presents?

Comment: I got interested in this book after reading a positive review and I got intrigued by some details the person commenting revealed. I got the book some time later and almost at the end of the year I picked it up.

In this story we meet Drake Park, a young man who works as a midwife and who also has causes he defends and that is precisely where he meets cop Caleb, just as he arrests Drake during a manifestation because Drake goes to where he wasn't supposed to.
The thing is, Drake has Crohn’s disease and that seriously affect his actions and daily life, especially if he is stressed out, if he has problems, if he slips in his diet and routines... and being on foot for a long time because of the manifestation made him look for an available bathroom but he entered a public building without noticing it was closed to the public for safety reasons.
Caleb arrests Drake but he is also attracted to him although he can't avoid doing his job. After learning Drake had medical reasons to enter the building, he feels like apologizing but Drake seems to want to forget about it.
Then starts a confusing time for them as they keep thinking about each other but especially Drake feels unsure if Caleb is someone he wants to be friends (or more) with because his past experiences with a partner who didn't ultimately accept the restrictions his disease has on him really hurt Drake.
Is Caleb really a bad bet? Will Drake accept nothing in life is always safe?

This story was detailed and very focused on creating a scenario for readers to learn about Drake's disease and what it entails, it also provided inclusive characters, interesting New Zealand features and multicultural roots but globally thinking, the romance did seem to me to be a little too analytical at times and not as romantic as I imagined.

I actually liked learning so much about Crohn’s disease because it's not very common outside of medical articles or so and in romances probably not very easy to convey while trying to also showcase romantic scenes. I'm not familiar with the different aspects of the disease and I think the author used enough information to explain Drake's problems and personality and how he was affected by having it but not so strict that it wouldn't be possible for people with other evidence of the same disease to not feel empathy either.
I think the technical details were well incorporated into the plot and Drake's life and showcased how it can seriously limit people's routines and those of their partners.
At the same time, from a fictional point of view only, the fact Drake was understandably so affected by it, the details were many and that did make the story feel a little too analytical, almost as if the focus had to be the disease for readers to have all the pertaining information on it.

It seems rather unfair the way I say it and how contradictory that an element I liked is at the same time one I could slightly change... I suppose the balance between romance and plot felt a little off.

Drake and Caleb form a good match but only because they work for it. It could be quite difficult to imagine these two could be "destined" as often is seen in romance stories because they openly discuss the reasons why they wouldn't work. However, the  interest here is to see how they still decide to pursue something, how they talk about the things they like and why they feel attracted to one another. Both have reasons to not think the other would be the one but they way things develop is quite mature.

This is a story where the romance is developed on the page but we get to see a lot of secondary situations, most related to the main characters and how they mentally approach the relationship they start but also many regarding their jobs and how that affects them on a personal level.
The story is very polished and feels like the author has thought about every detail so that things work out properly but, there you go, for me this means the romance feels a little staged, the same to how the conflicts appear and how they are solved. Nothing wrong with this, it's the usual process of developing a book but sometimes some things just seem to be more spontaneous and passionate.

All in all, what I liked the best was how the characters cared for each other's feelings, they gave information and didn't just assume the other would guess things, I liked how they communicated. I also liked their families and how they accepted them for who they were.
This was very good but it was long, very detailed and, to me, a little overdone in some aspects.
Grade: 7/10

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