Friday, January 18, 2019

Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt Blog Tour

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Trigger warning: this book talks about cheating but it wasn't done during the story and no details were given. Rhys and Derek do reference the cheating a lot in the book.

I did hate how we never found out why Rhys cheated, I felt like I was missing something. I felt for Derek the entire book. I cried for him because I could feel his pain and hurt, and even his love still for Rhys. I did like how Rhys owned his mistake and gave no excuses, but it hurt me as much as it did Derek for some reason. I seriously felt like I was there with these guys. This was a good book that I am sure some people have gone through in real life. I just wish I hadn't teared up so much. LOL

When we meet Derek and Rhys, the couple has already split but are living in the matrimonial home because they can’t afford to live separately. We know that Rhys had a one-night stand and confessed to Derek straight away. For Derek, cheating is a hard limit and it means the end of their marriage. The men agree to keep their split on the down low and not tell their daughter so that they don’t spoil her wedding. They then head off on what they expect to be a very uncomfortable a road trip to attend the wedding.

This story is very emotional. My heart hurt for Derek. He did nothing wrong and has had his world turned upside down. He didn’t deserve to be cheated on. What I didn’t expect was how much my heart hurt for Rhys. I didn’t think I’d be able to empathise with a character who cheated but I did. It didn’t take long to realise that Rhys was beating himself up more over his actions more than anyone ever could. I wanted to take their pain away.

Is It Over Yet? is not all doom and gloom. There are some lovely sweet moments, some really hot moments, and even some happiness. I revelled in the difficult emotions this story elicited and I was left wondering, if my partner cheated would I be able to take him back or would it be a deal breaker?

I've never read a book like Is It Over Yet? This was a first for me. I've never read a book that starts with the drama of a break up. I loved seeing how the pieces fell and what Rhys and Derek did and said to try to get back to a place where they both love each other.

Rhys cheated on his husband, Derek. They weren't in a good place when he did it. He knew he was wrong and confessed to Derek what he did. Derek, in turn, went out and cheated to level the field. With the financial situation they were in, they weren't in a place to move out. They are angry and awkward, sharing the house and no one but close friends know what's going on. They find out their daughter is getting married. They both agree to put on a united front for the wedding and put their issues to the side. For a while they get back to the place they once were and one drunken night leads to them sharing a bed, but those feelings of hurt and betrayal aren't out of Derek's mind for long. They try to be civil for the wedding, but an emotional moment leads to their daughter finding out her dads are separating.

Can they make it through the actual wedding day without fighting? Will those loving feelings override the hurt Rhys caused? Can Derek ever take Rhys back and trust him?

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, it was a completely different read for me. At times I wanted to hit both the main characters, but I loved how the story played out. I was brought to tears more than once. Overall, a very good read.

This is definitely a book which makes you think. How would you act if you were in the same situation – either in Rhys or Derek's position? Would you be so certain that there was no way to resolve things; would you lie to your adult daughter; would you lose years of solidity and love due to a mistake?

I think many readers will find the scenario quite moving and question what is the right course of action. We get a lot of inner voice, so we know what the guys are thinking. Derek is the one who has a breakthrough, when he realises that he won't let one mistake ruin everything. But I am not certain that his decision is wise, even if it is loving.

An interesting read which I had to digest before I could consider reviewing it – and you might be right if you think I am still somewhat uncertain!

Is It Over Yet? was an impossible book to read without feeling gutted for one reason or another. I must admit before I write my review that I am slightly biased, as I ended a 20-year marriage, one of the reasons due to infidelity. Nor did I completely blame my ex for our split, as I have flaws I've worked very hard to change. Not only that, I left my ex, came back six weeks later, then tried for 10 months to rebuild what he had torn apart, only to realize there was no fix when the one who broke us apart didn't truly feel responsible.

The entire premise is between Derek and Rhys, keeping their split from their daughter until after her wedding. While this is logical, it also made me feel as if they didn't believe her mature enough to handle the truth, finding it insulting from the perspective of a daughter.

This is one of the more human novels I’ve read, where actions and reactions were definitely based in human nature, so I applaud the author, no matter how difficult it was to read. Both of them got in their own ways, but not in a manufactured fashion.

I may see this from a different perspective than many readers, having been down this road before, not just as a wounded party, but one who gave my ex another chance he squandered.

If they don't earn it, show actual emotional growth, they will treat you worse, as you now have zero self-respect for taking them back, where they will not respect you. Until both parties admit their part, it will never work.

I don't believe Rhys truly grasped how life-altering his actions were for Derek, so I didn't believe he earned forgiveness.

I felt Rhys said all the right things, but during his inner monologue, I couldn't empathize/sympathize/or feel compassion for him. I spent most of the novel trying to be even, pass no judgment, and try to see it from both of their perspectives. But when Rhys kept saying how he would one day find love again (grass is always greener, which is why he cheated in the first place – while not said out loud, it felt vaguely threatening, as if Derek didn't put up with his bs, he would find someone who would), or how he messed up or made a mistake, I was livid. I wanted so badly to feel for both of them, but these insensitive inner thoughts ruined it for me.

Rhys loved his husband, but four times mentioned to himself how he'd find love again, instead of putting in even an ounce of effort to save what he destroyed. Basically, the novel was about wearing Derek down until he gave Rhys forgiveness he didn't deserve, destroying his self-worth and self-respect.

Why do I believe that, instead of what was on the surface that everyone else is seeing?

Mistake. An accident. Messed up. Those are things people say when they AREN'T taking responsibility for their actions, said countless times both to himself and to others. What I needed from my ex, I didn't get from Rhys either. Saying you're sorry and asking for forgiveness isn't the same as actually proving you are sorry.

Numerous times, Rhys used MISTAKE, AN ACCIDENT, MESSED UP (also in curse form).

Rhys didn't make a mistake. Over dozens upon dozens of choices, he made the decision to do the act of infidelity. It isn't one choice (a mistake) that lands him in someone else's bed, but dozens before, during, and after the act. Each decision was another opportunity to stop. He called his husband, told him he was sleeping at a friend's house, then purposefully cheated on him. That is not a mistake, nor an accident, nor messing up. That is premeditated harming of your marriage and spouse, whether it be from self-destructive behavior or issues within the marriage.

There isn't a person on this planet who doesn't realize what cheating does to all parties involved – it is one of the most self-involved acts, which affected everyone involved, an act that has nothing to do with the parties being injured, outside of destroying them and their way of life.

All Rhys did was act like the martyr, saying he loved Derek, yet did NOTHING to actually show him. He whined about what he would have to do to fix it, admitting he was the one who broke it. Yet didn't realize how it looked from his ex's perspective. The cheating was the ultimate of rejection, then can't figure out why Derek wouldn't just 'give in' and admit they love each other and give him another chance. He expected it to just drop into his lap, after taking more effort into cheating than he did into the aftermath.

"I deserve it" isn't the same as giving the one you harmed closure, admitting that those choices made were with complete and total disregard to the pain he knew it would inflict. Admit to being selfish, self-destructive, and self-absorbed enough to not give two craps about the pain you're inflicting, or admit you're inflicting pain on purpose, not trivialize it by saying it happened and he can't change it, even if he wanted, so why bother apologizing again. Listening to his husband's voice while lying to him on the phone, then sleeping with another.

Sorry. Not sorry.

Many readers will see this differently than me...

Not once did Rhys show in his inner monologue that he got it.

Regret? Yes.

Wished he didn't do it? Yes.

If anything, Rhys acted as his own victim.

As for the daughter, it annoyed me how she wasn't told the whole of the truth. As he told her about making vows to her on his own wedding day, if he could break vows to her father, he could so easily break them to her. That's why infidelity is seen as cheating on the family, not just the spouse. So, while this was a teary-eyed emotional scene for me, I felt it disingenuous coming from him, when he was more worried about being a martyr and his own victim, than admitting that he hurt his husband and daughter with purpose.

Until Rhys admitted every choice he made was with complete and total knowledge of how much it would harm his husband and daughter, he doesn't deserve to be forgiven.

Do people make mistakes? Yes.

Can a marriage survive? Yes, but only if that one condition above is met, which it was not.

Derek gave in due to 'We love each other' and Rhys may or may not have learned anything, because he still sees it as a mistake, not a conscious decision on his part to do harm.

Kudos to the author for writing something so authentically, realistically messy, mirroring real life and how we act/react to this emotionally crippling event.

Do I believe in the resolution? NO, because all Rhys learned was to look contrite long enough, Derek will be a doormat and forgive him, no matter what, because they love one another. If Rhys loved Derek and their daughter enough, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. If he understood the gravity of his actions, he would admit he cheated with full knowledge of how painful it would be for Derek and their daughter. THAT is how he would learn and be given forgiveness.

When I saw the line, "He messed (curse form) up once." It killed me for Derek and every other victim of infidelity out there. No, Rhys didn't mess up once. He made dozens of choices before he cheated. The main act may have been once, but it wasn't ONCE. Every time he followed along that path, he was making another decision to cause pain and destroy their marriage. He may not do it again but justifying this lessens self-worth.

We are worth enough to expect better out of those who say they love us. Until that happens, there's an imbalance in the relationship.

Quote: inserting 'messed up' for the profanity, since this was also used many times too.

"Rhys had messed up by going to bed with that guy. Was I also messing up by letting that one mistake end our marriage?"

No, Derek is messing up by honestly minimizing this to 'one' when it was many choices for one major act. But that's about as realistic as it gets, isn't it? It's why I went back, because I loved him, but his actions are proof he didn't love me. I'm far too cynical not to be triggered by this novel and see it as a second-chance easily taken for granted since no TRUE closure was given, ignoring due to love is not a fix.

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 Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt to read and review for this tour.

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