Finding the Words by Terry O’Reilly

Finding the Words by Terry O’Reilly


Ryan Phillips, a speech and language pathologist in the physical rehabilitation unit of a major university hospital, has recently ended a relationship due to his partner’s infidelity. He is called in to treat a patient who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury. In the course of his treatments he begins to have feelings for the man. But is he ready to be healed, and will the patient heal enough to be able to return the love that appears to be growing between them?




This is a surprisingly sweet and lovely story that involves a slow blooming romance but never once drags. As I mentioned in a previous review, O’Reilly’s prose tends to be simplistic but in this particular story the writing is much tighter and lends itself very well to the story arc. Included were interesting and likeable characters with a quick moving plot and a surprisingly amount of dialogue considering one of the protagonists has trouble speaking. Focusing on older men and realistic problems gave a very authentic feel to this story making it much more interesting than just a fantasy story about gay men and combining the lovely progression from doctor/patient to lovers and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short tale.

Ryan is a thirty-five year old speech therapist that is enlisted to help Andre recover after a traumatic injury that has impaired his ability to speak and partially paralyzed his right side. Due to the weakness in his physical ability, Ryan makes the surprising offer to help Andre recover, as the man cannot function on his own just yet. As Ryan is helping Andre, he discovers his feelings for Andre go beyond general concern for the older man’s welfare and wonders about his own capability for more.

The story is told from Ryan’s perspective as he is getting over the recent dissolution of his relationship with a co-worker, Jeff. Especially nice was that the portrayal of Jeff and Ryan’s breakup, while painful, did not necessarily paint Jeff as a polarizing personality and quick justification for moving on. Ryan’s reasoning for ending his relationship with Jeff was not because they didn’t love each other, which they did, but Ryan wanted monogamy whereas Jeff as a much younger man still wanted to sleep around. Ryan is honest with himself about his need to recover from the relationship and is not quick to jump into something with just anyone, which is why his attraction to Andre both disturbs and confounds him.

The slow pace and gradual increase of tension and attraction Ryan has for Andre sets a lovely pace that mirrors the eventual recovery of Andre from his injury. Due to the injury and subsequent surgery, Andre has difficulty speaking. He knows the words he wants to say and how to say them, but he can’t seem to say the correct words he’s thinking of which results in short, truncated communication. However, even this abbreviated language allows a connection between the men as their feelings grow. Both Andre and Ryan are hesitant and almost shy to admit their growing feelings, which also lends a very honest voice to the prose and story. At 46, Andre is freshly divorced after his wife discovered his interest in other men. Although he never acted on it while married, the desire was enough to precipitate a divorce, leaving Andre floundering on how to initiate and pursue other men.

As both men are slow to engage in another relationship it allows their ease with each other to form first as friendship and companionship and later as a romantic connection. While Andre’s feelings are somewhat of a mystery due to the style of telling, the romantic happy ending was fitting considering the tone and pace of the story. The writing was considerably better in this offering concentrating on tight, crafted phrases and ease inherent in the story telling. The characterization still had a few problems but they were minor in the overall scheme of the story. The cast of secondary characters ranged from forgettable to solid as the ex-wife added a nice contrasting texture whereas the various other therapists tended to blend together with no remarkable actions. This may not be a keeper, but it’s definitely a solidly written and lovely honest tale about realistic men finding love. I can easily recommend this story.

Get it HERE!


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