There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant
like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.
Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.
Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.
But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.
Comment: I got interested in this book because of its trope, sort of. This is a May/December kind of story, which means there is a certain age gap between the protagonists. It's not as if I love this theme but when well done, I think it can be amazing and that was my hopes with this one.
In this book we meet a group of friends who are enjoying their last days of lazy time before traveling with their military team to Afghanistan. They are all young, recently enlisted and both scared of what they might find but still dazzled by the idea of doing something worthy and being proud of their choices. Among them we meet Riley and Jesse, although Jesse is a little older, and the story begins as soon as Jesse arrives at Riley's house where his father organized a small party for the boys.
Trevor knows his son is going into danger but he feels he needs to support him for Riley is an adult now and needs to make his own choices. His first meeting with Jesse isn't positive but he trusts him and the others to be a perfect team.
Things don't go well, though, and Riley is killed while there. Going through grief and loss makes Trevor feel unable to cope and when Jesse comes by with some things of Riley's and they start chatting, a certain bond is created. But will their feelings be enough to sustain them when they start seeing each other as more than just the roles they had in relation to Riley?
This was a very emotional story, no doubt about it. Since part of the story addresses grief and mourning, that was to be expected, but the way this story is told adds a certain emotional feel to everything. I think it didn't have to be but I can understand why the author wrote things so that the reader could see how great a guy Riley was and how his death impacted those closer to him.
Also interesting is to see how such a situation affects everyone differently but even if at different degrees, everyone is affected. Riley's father suffered a certain way, Riley's friends another, those who knew each one of these people too.. it's a snowball how one event might have an impact in several people and in the relationships they have, because nothing is thought and solved quickly, people need to process emotions in their own way. I think the author did a good job trying to demonstrate this.
Trevor and Jesse are the main characters so, of course, we are prepared to see them bond over Riley and how he united them in their mutual grief. However, I think the interesting element was how, despite the loss, they were able to simply talk about Riley, about what he meant to them, they discussed the things he did, his attitudes, the good times, as if talking about him was not only making him still a part of their lives but by talking they could keep up his memory in the way he was in life and not in such a tragic manner that is usually what we imagine when think about dead people. Of course everyone is different, some people don't like to remember but I can appreciate the authors' idea with this.
Regarding the romance, after all that was an expected element. I have to say it was done well enough for this plot. I believed the pace, I believed the way their maturity and personalities matched despite the age gap and I believed when they decided to be together and tried to have a relationship where Riley's memory was not a taboo subject. There were hot moments between them but I must say I did like how the author stressed out more their emotional bond than the physical one.
The epilogue was a little too nice but sort of balanced the sadder moments throughout the book. I should, though (thus not a better grade) that the amount of detail during the plot's development compared to the epilogue wasn't really fair. Well, it didn't looked like that to me because the epilogue feels rushed, compressed too many ideas. Plus, there were some situations during the novel that felt like they dragged, like there was a purpose in making things look even more dire and miserable to increase the angst. I get it but maybe it was a little too much.
This was the first book by this author I tried but overall I liked the tone and the rhythm of this story even if I'd change a few scenes/situations. I do feel compelled to try another book by the author and I hope I can have another good experience with it.