Review: Susan Laine – Train to Somewhere (Before and After #3)

Author: Susan Laine
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Mm Contemporary

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Summary: It was only a game. Wasn’t it?

At a party one night, Charlie Dean’s childhood friend Will Tucker accepts a dare and dresses up as a girl: clothes, hair, makeup. Seeing Will that way incites a riot of confused emotions in Charlie—and he responds by lashing out. He never meant to hurt Will, and now he must do some serious damage control.

During a school trip by train, Charlie and Will share a sleeper cabin. Charlie intends to mend fences, while Will figures it’s as good a time as any to broach the subjects of attraction and sexuality. They want to get their relationship back on track. But after the secrets they both reveal, their friendship can never be the same.

Review: Charlie and Will are the best of friends and Charlie has a great girlfriend in Ashley. They have a solid circle of friends who get together and everything is great. Until the night a game of Truth or Dare brings out the absolute beast in Charlie. A dare followed by a makeover of Will into Willow, complete with makeup and female clothing, by Ashley and the girls turns Charlie into a raging abusive nightmare. I am sorry, but his reaction wasn’t “lashing out”, it was abuse. Willow is deemed “hot” by everyone except Charlie, who rips off Will’s clothes, forces him into the shower and attacks him to get the makeup and hair gel off. “He couldn’t even see Will clearly, his hands a blur in a flurry of movement.”

When he’s done with his psychotic rampage, “A new kind of shock reverberated through him, and he was appalled by what he’d done. It could only be described as an atrocity.” An atrocity where his best friend was crying, begging him to stop and not understanding what happened. “He looked…abused.”

I almost didn’t finish the story after this because this was seriously disturbing for me to read, but I carried on. I wanted, I don’t know what. Counseling for Charlie? A beat down by all their friends? Something. Unfortunately it didn’t really happen. Will forgives way too easily and then the book turns into more of a tutorial in sexuality by Will for Charlie than anything else. “Gynephilic means that you’re attracted to females…or femininity. That classification gave Charlie pause.” This goes on through various definitions of sexuality and then experimentation for Charlie on Will to see where he might fit.

I was worried that Charlie would also be a cheater but he does break up with Ashley prior to anything happening with Will. The brightest spot of this book was Ashley. Everyone should have an Ashley. “Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me. I don’t out people. And sounds like you’re still figuring things out. I get it. And we, sweetie? We’re cool.” Lovely.

This really isn’t a romance, at least I didn’t consider it so. An abuse, an education, some experimentation and then a ten year separation with an epilogue that makes it appear during their ten years apart they didn’t even stay friends (they were unaware of important things that happened to each other more than a year ago).

So this one wasn’t for me. I have read the others in this series and liked them. I am a fan of this author and I liked her writing style, engaging and clear, but the story itself wasn’t my cuppa.



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  1. I considered reviewing “Unbreak My Heart,” but was so disgusted by the novel’s domestic violence scene that I returned the audiobook.

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