What would you do if you lost five years of freedom? If everything you’d ever known was torn away from you, all because the one person you counted on to save you didn’t come through?
This is the cruel reality for Gabriel “Red” Thatcher, convicted at age nineteen for the murder of his father. Now twenty-five and eight months out of prison, Red has nothing to his name and no one to help him through the horrifying memories of his past.
Then he meets Silo Winters, a man so much like him yet so different that it drives Red crazy. How could someone who went through the same trauma he did in prison still look at life so cheerfully? And though Silo tries to show Red that life after hardship isn’t bleak and meaningless, Red finds it difficult after all he’s been through to let anyone in.
The smells of the park hit me hard and fast as we rounded the bend a few blocks from Berkley and started down the dirt road that led to the main gate. Overused fry oil met my nose first. Ribbon-cut fries were Mila and Arty’s favorite.
“We’d get a whole big basket of them every time we came here and eat them as we walked,” I told Silo. “Joe always had to get a separate order for himself because he was the only one who liked his fries with vinegar. Mila, Arty, and I preferred them plain.”
Among the fries, I caught a whiff of fried dough and smiled. Silo probably liked the dough nice and sweet, slathered in strawberry preserve and powdered sugar. I imagined sitting on a park bench, eating some with him. Some jam would dribble down the corners of his lips. He’d let me lick it off, and nobody around us would give a shit because everyone knew we were only having fun. That was my favorite part of amusement parks—the air of tranquil companionship that existed between everyone, no matter their race, religion, orientation, or beliefs.
We could see the royal-purple painted archway of the park’s entrance now, accented with gold letters that read, Tenley Carnival, July 7th – September 7th.
“Oh it’s a carnival, not an amusement park,” Silo chided me.
“There’s a difference?”
“Uh, yeah.” Silo tossed his head, gesturing to the dates on the sign. “Carnivals travel; amusement parks are permanent fixtures.”
“Well, excuse me, Mr. Park Aficionado.” I shoved him through the gate, spurred on by the sheer sight of the crowd and the smiles on people’s faces. Funny, I’d thought I’d be afraid of crowds after prison. I certainly hated prying eyes, but here I felt like none of what’d happened in the past mattered. No one knew me here, either the real, inner me that mattered, or the outer, shallower me that didn’t. It felt good, almost homey—to simply be another stranger among strangers.
We grabbed some fried dough by the main gate to eat as we walked. Silo gave me plenty of trouble about paying for his, but I ignored him. He couldn’t have been too caught up in the whole money situation, though, because the next minute he was laughing and clapping at a band of street performers pulling colored ribbons out of their ears. I wanted to point out how there had to be a logical explanation behind the trick, but I didn’t want to spoil Silo’s fun.
“Hey, Red?” Silo stopped beside a bench and sat down. We’d have to share it with a woman and her baby, but neither of us seemed to mind. “You don’t think this is silly at our age?”
“You’re saying that to me?”
Silo chuckled. “I know. This just doesn’t seem like your type of scene.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“That you’re a bit of a hardass.” Silo popped the last of his fried dough into his mouth and grinned.
“You just don’t know me well enough.” I sat down beside him. “Besides…” I looked off across the dirt pathway and watched the people there. A young man stood holding the hand of a woman who I assumed was his girlfriend, watching as a carny in a clown costume formed a pink balloon animal. They looked about nineteen, maybe twenty, smiling and holding each other’s hands, occasionally kissing without a care in the world. “Besides,” I repeated, “I lost out on my time to do things like this.”
Silo said nothing for a long time as he looked down at his hands folded in his lap. Then, “Hardass.”
“Hah, I guess so.” I looked around again, catching sight of the Ferris wheel.
“You want to ride it, don’t you?” Silo intercepted my thoughts.
I cursed that perceptive gaze of his. “Mila and I used to when we were little. Well, when I could persuade her it wasn’t going to break and roll away, and even then she’d only sit with Joe. I guess I’m feeling nostalgic.”
“You miss your little sister.”
How could I not? We’d been so close when we were little, and now we hardly knew each other. Hell, she didn’t even seem to want to know me now.
“I can’t believe how big she’s gotten.” I felt Silo’s hand on my knee. The woman beside us smiled softly at me when I caught her looking at us. I smiled back, feeling the genuine warmth in her gaze. She didn’t care about my past like Mila did. She—a stranger—could smile at me with kindness, where my own sister could only smile cautiously and in fear.
“Well, let’s have her over. Invite her. I’ll make dinner.”
“Silo, why are you trying so hard for me?” Was it just because I was letting him stay at the apartment? What made this man try so hard to make me happy?
“Because it’s important to you. Need I another reason?” Silo hopped to his feet and held out his hand to help me up. “Come on. Let’s go ride the Ferris wheel.”
I love angst. I love broken characters. I love when they find redemption. And while I didn’t love this book, I still enjoyed it.
One of the things I enjoyed is that it was different. TWO men recently out of prison trying to find their way in the world again. Trying to find jobs. Trying to just live their lives. Unexpectedly coming together as friends to start, sharing a small apartment in the not so great part of town.
The guys navigate this post prison world together. Silo is a pretty optimistic guy for having served time and his father not letting him move home. It is his light that helps bring Red out of the dark.
I had a couple issues with the book, but I can’t really talk about them without giving up possible spoilers. But my issues are often not anyone else’s issues in a book. Why am I like this? GAH!
I think this author only has 2 books out right now. And while the book wasn’t perfect, I can see the potential for the author to just get better at storytelling.
3 pieces of eye candy
I could copy-paste my biography from other websites, but that’s boring so instead here’s some fun facts about me:
- I own 2 crested geckos and an axolotl. What’s an axolotl? You know Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon? His design is based off one. Basically it looks like a cross between a tadpole and a wingless dragon. And they’re dumb. Very dumb. But cute!
– I have an unhealthy obsession with video games. I am an avid PC gamer, and can be found up most nights on World of Warcraft. I’m the first to admit I have a problem. For the Alliance!
- I could probably drop a fourth of my body-weight if I stopped drinking soda, but I won’t. I’m letting myself have this one.
- If I had a quarter for every time I swore, I’d probably be able to retire.
- I don’t know how I started writing M/M Romance, but if I had to blame anyone it’d be my best friend for getting me hooked on Yaoi in high school. You know who your are; you did this.
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