Even in paradise, beautiful faces can hide scarred souls.
ONE tropical island.
Placida Island’s gentle ocean breezes and rolling surf beckon to those who wish to reside in remote tropical serenity.
TWO men living in self-imposed exile.
Wearing twisted ropes of mutilated skin on his back and carrying devastating damage in his soul from severe childhood abuse, Matthew North lives alone in a rustic cabin on the shore, avoiding human contact.
Gender fluidity his perceived “crime” against family and friends, Vedie Wilson flees his childhood home so he can freely express his identity.
THREE persecutors seeking their warped view of justice.
Vedie’s past refuses to stay in the faraway city he left behind when family members, intent on forcing him to change, threaten the precious peace he’s found.
TOO MANY scars to count.
Their beautiful faces masking deeply scarred souls, Matt and Vedie live in hiding from the world and each other.
Can they unite and embrace each other’s painful pasts, leaving the scars behind, to find love?
I have a bit of a fetish for broken characters. Not just broken. Like totally effed up characters. And if both main characters are broken? Yaassss!
And that is why I wanted to read this book. And I am so glad I did.
Warning though. This book is brutal. The author does not shy away from abuse, both physical and sexual, including of a child. It is far from gratuitous. The way it is told as journal entries makes you want to weep, but it is not voyeuristic.
Matt lives in self imposed seclusion because of a severely traumatic even in his childhood. But not 100%. He goes out to eat by himself, goes to the store, etc. He just doesn’t have anyone in his life. No one. No friends, he sees his parents briefly once or twice a year and works from home. So when the new bus boy at the restaurant he frequents talks to him, flirts with him, propositions him, he is compelled to say yes.
Vedie (I love this name, seriously) basically ran away from home, even though he is 21 years old. He has been non-binary ever since he could remember. Sometimes he felt like a boy, sometimes a girl, sometimes neither. That didn’t fly in the tough neighborhood in Boston he grew up in. So his mother threw him out and he runs because his brothers and cousin think they can beat him into being only a boy.
Matt and Vedie very slowly develop a relationship. One that is undefined. It is sometimes sexual, often times platonic and nearly always unspoken of. Matt cannot speak of his feelings and Vedie wants to not only talk about it, he wants to hear it. Both of these men so desperately need love from another person.
I devoured every word of this book. The way Vedie’s personality and speech patterns change with what gender he is presenting at the time are so well done. And while “boy” Vedie can be a bit over the top in his overt machismo, it goes back to his days in Boston and having to show people he was a boy.
There are some excellent secondary characters- Sheila, Vedie’s co-worker and her girlfriend, who love Vedie as he is even if he doesn’t realize it. Matt’s parents, who I thought I would feel sorry for but I absolutely didn’t. And Joey who I wanted to punch in the face.
I hate to say that there wasn’t a ton of “plot” because that sounds awful, but there was a TON of story. I don’t know if that made sense. But I got to immerse myself in Matt and Vedie and not have to worry so much about x, y and z.
If you were a fan of Violence Begets, put this on the top of your TBR.
4.75 Pieces of Eye Candy