This is the first book I’ve read by Felicia Watson but I’ll be really interested to see what else she has to offer. WAMM (to abbreviate a real mouthful of a title) is an interesting story that reads fairly quickly. The characters are engaging and the author includes a massive amount of information on the psychology of abuse without ever lecturing to readers. Instead this information is skillfully incorporated into the story without missing a beat. The conflict is mostly internal which should please readers that enjoy angst ridden men. While that descriptor is right up my alley I found some elements kept this story from being a great read for me.
The plot revolves around Logan Crane, a closeted gay man dealing with a lot of suppressed rage issues. Those issues cause him to act out and hurt his wife, which lands Logan in therapy as an abuser. While volunteering there, Logan meets Nick. Nick is a counselor with his own difficult past. Nick grew up in an abusive household culminating in brain damage for his mother. Although the chemistry between Nick and Logan is instant, the two have a lot of issues to deal with that may be too much.
The conflict is mostly internal and has a respectable angst level but nothing overwhelming. Logan and Nick spark but take time before getting together. Then once they do, there are numerous external and internal issues that have to be dealt with. These issues continue up to the very end of the story leaving the men with a happy ending but nothing very solid feeling. There’s a nice wrap up but too short to really do justice for the considerable and weighty problems introduced. The pace is pretty quick and I read the book faster than the 320 pages would suggest.
The characters are well crafted and individual. They have separate personalities though their speech patterns tend to blend. At the beginning of the book Logan has a particular dialogue, a way of speaking that is clearly indicative of rural western Pennsylvania. Nick on the other hand starts with a more formal way of speaking but soon falls into Logan’s speech patterns. I couldn’t tell if this was deliberate, Nick being more comfortable with Logan, or simply the dialogue between the two men blends together. This could annoy some readers but it’s a nice addition and adds an authentic detail to the story.
The theme of abuse is obviously central and very important. Nick as a counselor and working for a well known abuse therapist both offer a ton of information on the subject. They talk, discuss, think about, lecture, and have multiple therapy sessions with several secondary characters. The information never feels lecturing or overwhelming, instead incorporated in small easy to handle doses. Likewise the PA setting is very vivid and filled with intimate detail. Clearly the author knows this area very well and could translate that easily in an interesting way.
The only downside is that there are almost too many secondary characters. There are so many that the focus isn’t on the main couple together. Usually Nick or Logan will have an issue and various secondary characters emerge to help/complicate. Once that is put aside for the moment, rarely resolved, the other guy will have an issue and the cycle repeats. I didn’t get a real feel for the men’s relationship together since there are so many problems introduced. It keeps the story moving and interesting but dilutes the romantic impact of the relationship. This story will appeal to those who like angsty romances the most and who don’t mind a less than scorching hot read.