Shell Shocked by Angelia Sparrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank goodness for an inspirational romance that is not Christian. It's refreshing to see a tale that relies on the power of Pagan spirituality for once.
The romance was overall gripping. I loved both characters. I know it's a cliche to say this, but I couldn't put it down. Both Gabe and Sean were well written and likable (for the most part, but I'll get to that later). Even the whirlwind aspect of their love didn't seem forced or cheap. I could easily see why they would bond that quickly.
Part of their connection with one another is that they are both disabled. I have to give major kudos to the author for choosing disabilities that are hard to sexify. That is, there is a tendency for people to give their characters only the aspects of a particular problem that seem attractive (dark, brooding, just enough of a guilty past to be interesting but not enough to actually make the love interest question their decision as to whether they should be with this person) and to gloss over the rest. Not here. Gabe had both legs amputated and Sean has a nasty case of PTSD, plus bad knees and other physical complaints. I am so happy to see a book with disabled main characters having a sexual relationship, I can't even tell you.
Now, here are some of the things I found disappointing. Sean always being on top is a thing that's brought up in the book more than once. Basically, he's reluctant to be penetrated because of lingering issues with his sexuality and the fear of the unknown. A lot of build up is put in to whether Gabe will ever top. Then that moment comes...and the author doesn't show it! How insanely frustrating.
Phone sex is just as awkward on the page as it is in real life. Seriously.
At one point, Sean and Gabe get in a huge fight. Words are said. You know the kind. Words. One example: Gabe is not the character's legal name. It's one he chose himself. Sean happens to know Gabe's legal name and he busts it out in the most invalidating way possible. As someone who also chose their name, man, did that sting. Marriages have ended for less. And yet, there doesn't seem to be as much fallout from this fight as I would have expected. It's a verbally abusive altercation, and since whether or not Sean is abusing Gabe comes up a couple of times, I thought this should have been handled with more detail.
Overall, a great read. I very much enjoyed it.
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