Monday, August 17, 2015

What He Left Behind by L.A. Witt

Can you ever have a second first time?

Josh Carver thinks it’s just another lunch with his best friend, Michael—until Michael confesses he just turned down a date with his hot veterinarian crush. It seems Michael’s abusive ex left him more scarred than Josh realized.

Josh and his husband, Ian, have done their best to help Michael leave his horrific past behind, but even Josh is stunned when Ian suggests that Josh help Michael with his fear of physical intimacy. After all, it isn’t like it would be the first time—Josh and Michael were once each other’s firsts.

A hesitant first kiss, and Josh and Michael’s natural attraction eases the way. But with Michael still balking at the prospect of sex with someone new, Ian steps into the breach.

Everything is fine and dandy until emotions become so entangled, their friendship—and a marriage—could be at risk.

Warning: Contains three guys who will do anything for each other, a hot tub that’s always the right temperature, and a cat with an attitude problem.

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Samhain Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence. While this book doesn't engage in DV and is about overcoming the trauma, it revisits past agony and assault. I'm not guessing this may or may not trigger someone who has lived through a similar situation; I am someone who was triggered while reading. So if you aren't healed enough to deal, or want a book where you're not thrust in your past, please give this book a pass.

With all that being said, I thought the domestic violence thread of the book was done with great compassion, understanding, and realism. For a survivor who has traveled far enough in their journey of healing, they will find comfort in portions of the book. 5 stars on the way this delicate issue was handled.

What He Left Behind was a scorching HOT read. I was drawn instantly, knowing where the book was going to go, but couldn't stop myself from reading. I was shocked at the dynamic between the men. A happily married couple, and their friend who is dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship. All three men are very mature and understanding in their situation. There are no miscommunications, misunderstandings, or unnecessary angst. It was very adult.

Where the book didn't work for me: every scene became repetitious after the beginning, to the point there were no scenes involving anything but sex. Perhaps a mention of everyday life, but it would devolve to sex again in the exact same formula. Even a highly emotional scene would devolve to getting off. It was 10% storyline at this point and 90% sex the reader had already had a bird's eye view into. I wanted more of that 10%, because it was an outstanding 10%.

Less is more. Make me earn it, hunger for it. Seduce me (the reader) as if I were a character in the story. Don't just put out constantly on every page, or I won't appreciate you and I'll take you for granted.

In the beginning of the book, that book that was so scorching hot was replaced with similar scenes that I skimmed. The hard-hitting honesty of the very real after-effects of domestic violence was lessened by sex. The emotional aspects (& I did get emotional over and over while reading this book as the author was very gifted at tearing emotions out of me) were negated by the overuse of sex as the vehicle to push the story, when the story would have been more than capable to drive and navigate.

The domestic violence, the aftermath, the emotions involved during this type of arrangement, and the very real feelings the three men experienced, were written with a great amount of compassion, understanding, and realism... the excess of sex cheapened something that could have been a profound read.

I know I'm coming off as a prude. I mean, 20+ scenes of similar nature, involving the same characters, set up, and formula, no matter what the content involves, will become repetitious, redundant, and drag a story down.

There was something I couldn't put my finger on, and it just now came to me. There was little to no conflict in the story. Everyone was so understanding. The entire time I was reading the book I was waiting for the abusive ex to reappear for some reason, giving all three men a feeling of vindication. It wasn't until I was finished reading and read another review that I realized this never transpired & I feel it was necessary to keep the book from having the same feel from start to end – no rise, fall, or crescendo.

Would I recommend this title: YES. Hell, yes! M/M erotica fans will go insane for the between the sheets actions. However, M/M romance and contemporary fans may be put off a bit as what they are longing to have more of is pushed beneath the bed the characters are using, over and over again.

Would I read more by this author: Yes, absolutely. I'd give this author a few more tries.

It would be difficult to remain unaffected by this book. It deals with some very difficult issues, and comes up with an imaginative and very rewarding solution. The journey to get there is touching and also extremely sexy. It is thought provoking, especially when the tables are turned. I loved the outcome and would love to get a sneak peek a few years from now to see just how it worked out!

I have read several books by this author and enjoyed them. I was really looking forward to this book. I mean the book’s blurb was great. It just didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love sex in my book. I actually hate reading books without sex in them. However, this book just had too much and it was very repetitive and after a while I just skimmed through the book. I know there was sensitive subject matter but that didn’t seem to be the forefront of the story. I also thought at some point in time that the abusive ex would show up. I guess I just expected more besides sex. It does show that some people will do anything for their friends. This was just an ok book for me but I am sure others will enjoy the hot sex.

Characters: The characters were well written.
Sex: Yes, too much actually
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: No
Genre: M/M Romance
Would I read more by this author: Yes

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of What He Left Behind by L.A. Witt to read and review.

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