Strong Medicine, by J.K. Hogan
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Release Date: May 11, 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?
The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work release program at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.
Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.
Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.
Character With Disability
(please highlight below to reveal spoilery warnings)
J.K. Hogan is a very talented writer. I love how she writes characters who are damaged but still whole, broken but still strong, and relationships that challenge the characters and the reader in the best of ways!
I was hesitant about this book going in, because books with childhood trauma often imply some kind of sexual assault, and I wasn’t sure I could handle that. So I’ll reassure you now: there’s no sexual assault or rape in this book. That said, this is still a very dark book, and one where Jonah’s fragile mental state really carries over to the reader, making you question what, exactly, is going on.
“We’re all broken, babe. Every one of us. That’s what makes us human.”
I loved the relationship between Cameron and Jonah. Both men are struggling to heal mentally, and they come from very different backgrounds. But as they bond and form a friendship, it becomes clear that they’re able to help each other heal, which was really lovely to read! And J.K. doesn’t make it easy; there’s no ignoring some of the consent issues that arise, as Cameron is an employee at the mental hospital where Jonah has checked himself in.
But there was one big issue with this novel: the pacing.
The story skips and jumps. It’s told over a year, and the action flows for several chapters before stuttering, fading to a dull yawn, then reigniting. Wash, rinse, repeat. I kept losing interest, only to come back an hour later and find the plot picking back up. It’s an exhausting up-and-down, and the way entire months are skimmed over was frustrating.
Overall this is a very enjoyable novel. And the pacing may not bother other people… I strongly suspect this is just my personal preference! There is no denying that J.K. can write emotional, vivid stories that capture your heart, and characters that you can’t help but root for.
If you’re looking for a psychological romance with lots of angst and even more painful healing, you should definitely check this one out.
J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?
J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit the contact page.
Find J.K. on her website at http://jkhogan.com/
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.