together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So do running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.
Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.
Comment: A few more reads gone, more days passed, still a lot of worry on what is going on in the world, but it does feel nice to have routines to continue. It's time for another TBR Challenge post and this month the theme is the all encompassing "series". It wouldn't be difficult for me to find a book to suit this theme, the problem would be to pick one but I ended up choosing this one simply because it was next on my list of books to read.
In this book we meet Colin Mulligan, a very troubled man who isn't in the best of places in his life. He is a closeted gay man who has spent his whole life being who he felt his father would have wanted him to be, which would include mocking one of his younger brothers precisely for being gay. Colin now lives on his own and that means it's easier for him to escape once in a while to a bar where gay hookups often happen. He is not in a good place so his hookups are always attempts to punish himself, until the day Rafe, a guy who watched as Colin is attacked, helps him. Then, since Colin is a mechanic along with his father and his other brothers, Rafe leaves his car and a note for Colin, which is the first step into how they start working together to help a group of teenagers at a youth center Rafe works in. But will Colin be able to let go of his prejudices, of his fear, of all the negativity he carries and grab happiness?
This is the second installment in the Middle of Somewhere series by Roan Parrish. I have read the first book back in 2015 (yes, I know...) and although I no longer remember details, I remember Colin was featured as the most antagonist character because of how he treated Daniel, his younger brother and the protagonist of that first book. I think I got such a bad impression of Colin it felt hard to imagine a redemption, but now, years later, I finally got to it and I should say I liked this story more than I did the first one.
I felt this book was much more emotional than what I expected but, for me, this was a good thing. I liked how the author portrayed Colin's feelings and his POV on what was happening. Colin has fixed himself in such a way, he can't seem to get out of a denial spiral over his feelings and his thoughts. He is gay but he feels his father, the person he most admires and doesn't want to disappoint, would not like him anymore. Throughout the novel, we have glimpses of why Colin got to evolve with such thoughts and how the conflict of who he is and who he pretends to be started to cause him so much pain.
One method to escape this, was to mistreat his brother Daniel, especially when he came out to the family and moved away. Colin felt this was something he couldn't do so he took it out in anger and verbal abuse. Seeing things from Daniel's POV in the other book certainly made readers dislike Colin but everything can be seen in so many different angles, having Colin's made me feel sorry for him. There are sections of the book where his head space is really down, he has depression, he has panic attacks, his thought process is so set on a way, he physically feels the effects of all that pain.
Obviously, since this is a romance, once he starts to interact with Rafe, his mind opens up and we get to see his softer side. He feels attracted to Rafe, he knows Rafe is gay but he would not be OK with being with him romantically.. well, until it was clear they were into one another. I think the evolution of their relationship was believable, within the confines of a novel of course, and I think both their issues were addressed as it was possible without moving this book into a silly or a miserable level. Sure, some things might not be as realistic as one could imagine, but I liked how the author made them talk, spend time together, start to trust one another...
Closer to the end, there were some scenes/situations I wasn't too fond of, but although they didn't ruin the book for me, I felt they weren't as well accomplished. Still, putting aside the details I would change, it felt the author did think about how to develop things in a way I liked reading. Following Colin's mind in some chapters was quite hard, what he said/thought made me feel like crying because I could understand how easily someone can let go and follow dark thoughts. At the same, time, I felt this added more layers to Colin and made me appreciate him more and how he manages to turn around and slowly becoming someone more stable.
All things considered, this was a book that worked out for me. There's a third book too, I might get to it next month or soon, but I admit I'm not eager... hopefully, I will be positively surprised as I was with this one. I think the author is talented and if something clicks, then that makes it easier to appreciate the book. If I like the next book too, I might invest more in the author's other work.