Where Wishes Go, by S.A. McAuley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 2, 2015)
Page Count: 246 pages
Genre: Bisexual (M/M) Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
* I received an advanced copy of this novel from Pride Promotions in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
Can you have a second chance at a first love?
Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fourteen years ago.
Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.
When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.
Wow. Just… wow. This story was beautiful. Exceptional, heart-wrenching, gorgeous. The Romance genre is full of “love at first sight” stories, but this is a story about two men who fell in love as teenagers– fell in love slowly, painfully, piece by piece– and then were separated for years. It’s about never forgetting your first love, and getting a chance to reconnect and rekindle that relationship.
It had been fifteen years since he’d last seen Nick, and he could still hear his voice in his head. He could still feel the touch of his fingertips on his skin. And that just made it all the more unreal. He could barely remember what he had eaten for breakfast, and yet this– these desperate remembrances of a time long past– was still so clear in his head? It couldn’t be possible.
In the time since they last saw each other, both men have changed for better and worse. Adam fell into alcohol and drugs, lost the woman he loved even as he gained a daughter, and has managed to push himself into sobriety and international acclaim as an artist. Nick has a daughter of his own, but his success in the workplace means he struggles to find time to spend with her, and his social life is non-existent.
I love how hard Adam and Nick have to work for this relationship. Nothing is easy here, and that makes it all the more worthwhile as a reader. Both men recognize that they’ve been given a chance at something special, and they’re not about to waste it, but they’re still cautious as they relearn each other.
Nick’s responding smile was a shockwave through Adam. If nothing else, he owed himself this chance. He believed in fate and the hand of Allah guiding his path. Nick had shown up now for some reason and Adam would explore this unexpected twist.
Adam is definitely my favorite character here. His struggles and his strength are fantastic, and his flaws just make him more perfect. I also think he was the most well-rounded character; we see his religious beliefs and how being Muslim affects the way he lives day-to-day, his bisexuality is discussed, and McAuley shows him emotional turmoil from his daughter’s illness. In comparison, Nick is almost bland; he’s the calm, predictable character against which Adam stands out more brilliantly.
If you’re anything like me, then this is a book that’s going to hit you in the heart. It’s not a depressing read, but instead one that moves the reader along the full emotional spectrum, from depression to hope to joy to angst and back again. I love books that you can get invested in as a reader, and this is one where you truly care about the characters.
I do wish Nick and the other characters had been fleshed out a bit more, but their relative flatness makes this Adam’s story, and I thought it was a beautiful one!
“For fuck’s sake, Izz. Why do we need to play this game? I still love you. I love the boy that you were then, and I’m falling desperately for the man you are now. There’s no other way around it. And I’m pretty sure you love me too. So why not just put it out there?”
Gorgeous, romantic, and an incredibly enjoyable book. Highly recommended!
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