Author: Lee Welch
Publisher: MLR Press
Summary: A photographer with post-traumatic stress disorder falls for a comics artist on a wild New Zealand beach, but can he find true love when he feels so wounded by life?
Everything changed when the bomb exploded. Forty-five-year old, Alex Cox worked as an international photographer until a deadly explosion left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotionally wounded, and desperate for a sense of safety, he’s run all the way to wild and remote Kahawai Bay, New Zealand.
Under the worst possible circumstances, Alex meets Joe, a shy young comics artist. Joe lets Alex into his playful, gentle world of comics, and soon Alex is falling for him, hard. Alex longs for more. Joe is reticent. But is it shyness? Or does Joe not want a much older lover with ‘issues’? Or is something else keeping them apart?
This is a tender and uplifting story about creativity, adversity, true love, and comics.
Review: This was a marvelous novella! I didn’t know the author, or even the length of the book when I began reading. I was immediately captivated by the way words were used, so beautifully that they truly created pictures in my mind’s-eye. Characterization can often be shortchanged in novellas but both Alex and Joe were replete with details that also added to the atmosphere and setting of the narrative. I liked Alex but Joe was the one I identified the most with, even before finding out his full history. The few additional characters were well detailed, even the tag-along invited by Alex’s friends.
It’s a relatively simple story, with a hurt/comfort trope that’s fresh and different, as most of the healing comes before any kind of physical intimacy, and that is only near the end. There’s little drama, any angst comes from sharing their pasts and I appreciated the gentle unfolding of the relationship. This would have been quite perfect for a chilly, cloudy or rainy afternoon to go with the ambience created by the book; alas, I’m in Florida!. Recommended.