Wednesday, August 10, 2022

K. Sterling - A Soul to Keep

Night after terrifying night, Captain Denver Walsh returns to the compound in Dubai where Al Qaeda terrorists tortured him. Night after night, he relives the terror and pain and wakes up haunted by a ghost from his past. Numerous surgeries and years of physical and psychiatric therapy have failed to fix our brave soldier and hacker and he’s perilously close to breaking.
“Alone is why you almost killed yourself and that’s what’s going to kill you.”
Denver might be an admirable yet occasionally stupid brand of stubborn but Dr. Ezra Gabriel is about to teach him a few lessons in patience and perseverance. Gifted, charming and just about as stubborn, the young doctor won’t let Denver give up, then finds he can’t let the brilliant, gentle, battle-scarred veteran go.
An incident involving a monster of a trout causes two friends to slip and slide into a predicament neither saw coming. One of them loses their head and two hearts find the same steady beat as dreams change and merge with reality. 
This is a standalone love story but features characters from The Boys of Lake Cliff series. You do not need to have read the series to enjoy A Soul To Keep.

Comment: I've decided to read this book because I've seen some positive reviews and the idea of the story felt interesting to me. 

In this book, clearly a spin off of some series, the two protagonists are traveling so that they can stay at a retreat house which belongs to one of them, so that they can work on the therapy of the other. Dr Ezra Gabriel feels he has a good connection with patient captain Denver Walsh and believes a one on one at a place where Denver doesn't have to worry about his nightmares will help him deal with PTSD.
Denver knows he has a lot to overcome and some nights are worse than others but he likes dr Gabriel and decides to try his way. What he didn't count on was how close this would bring them and how difficult it is to keep things professional when Ezra helps him breathe and think while embracing him. 
At what point do things change and they no longer feel like patient and doctor but more like friends? And from friends to two people attracted is no step at all, it seems...

Although it is true this book has a structured plot which makes it possible for a new reader to read without having to know previous events, it is also obvious there are some vibes over past things or stuff we should know that probably would make this story richer. This is the first book I try by this author and while it was a simple story, I could tell there were things not said but inferred considering the characters' interactions.

That aside, this story is a very classic "close proximity makes feelings come to the surface" and while I can't really believe any doctor would take a patient to his own house, especially a house which is more a holiday than everyday just to help the patient more, I suppose I can be persuaded this wasn't as weird because they have had a different relationship before they were doctor and patient (it is said at some point during their conversations) and we get by their thoughts they see one another more as a friend than as such a obvious professional capacity. Still....

Dr Ezra seemed to be a laid back guy, it seems he is believed to be good at his job, I got the feeling he was well liked by those who work with him and we are aware that his biggest struggle here is to not let his attraction to Denver get in the way of helping him. In a certain scene, somewhere half way he talks to another character who, according to what I have seen, is a main character in the central series of which this story is a spin off. It is said other characters were aware Ezra and Denver were attracted, so this kind of makes it easier to accept how their relationship develops.

Denver is the most interesting character, he was in the army, he saw terrible things, suffers from PTSD, is dealing with it, does therapy and I guess what makes this whole dynamic compelling is the fact he was never with a guy, although thinks of himself as bi, and this proximity with Ezra makes him wonder about his attraction, whether is mutual or if he is only reacting to how Ezra is helping him. 

I liked how things were at first, when they were deciding if they were indeed attracted and would the other one guess what was going on, how easy it was to think of one other in an unappropriated manner... I feel the sexual tension and the steps before they admitted things were cautious, sometimes ridiculous, but I went along with it, in the hopes things would progress in a cute but also romantic way. I think there were moments this happened in a fun way but as soon as they admitted things and discussed what was happening between them, the relationship became a little corny.

Perhaps it was just my impression, but it did feel like what was doubtful in the sense "will they or will they not" turned into something too simple too easily dealt with. I liked other characters were happy for them, but for someone who had never been in a relationship with a man, Denver accepted everything too quickly... I think this is the case that knowing other factors from previous books might help having a different perspective on this. The romance was too mushy and the issues which started all this were very quickly "solved".

All things considered, this wasn't too bad, but neither too appealing. It works enough for what it is, but I must confess I don't feel curious enough to read other books in the original series, nor other things by the author.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment