by Sarah Masters/Jaime Samms
Publisher: Love You Divine
Length: 157 Pages
POV: First Third Person
Scene Setting: Modern Day
Sub Genre: Drama, Thriller
Book Cover Rating: 4.5
Paul knows it’s time to leave Carl. Carl will do anything to make him stay. Vic wants to be his safe haven. Love that knows no bounds could save him or destroy him.
It’s been a while since Paul Miller fell for Carl, and now, he’s having a hard time remembering why. As the relationship slides beyond aggressive into dangerous and frightening, Paul wants a way out that doesn’t involve more violence.
To Carl, a bit of rough sex doesn’t even touch the tip of violent. The twisted path he’s has followed to show Paul the true depths of his love could lead them both a long way from where they thought life would take them.
When Paul is arrested for crimes he didn’t commit, one man, Victor Bradley, stands between him and the complete disintegration of his life. But Vic is the cop who arrested him, and he knows way more than any stranger ought to about the details of Paul’s life.
Caught between the man he thought he loved and one who might be stalking him, Paul is due to learn some serious lessons about trust, friendship, and what love is really capable of.
When I set out to read this book for a review, I knew what I was jumping into. I knew it would be anything but a full out and out romance story. The blurb tells you that much and it tells you to expect there to be angst, how could there not be with the amount of abuse the blurb is laden with? As it’s known, I love a book that pulls at my heart with a solid plot circling around real life situations and this one didn’t let me down.
Paul Miller’s lover, Carl is an abusive man with a very horrifying past. It’s a past full of angst and loneliness, and abuse. Paul’s story is a sad one right from the start. He also comes from a past of abuse delivered by his father’s hand so to know what true love is and how one another should be treated he tolerated Carl’s displays of controlling abusive love because it is all he knows. His biggest fight is the fact that he is a submissive lover and he wants that controlling man to take charge and love him. Carl, when Paul met him was that man, he was everything Paul wanted, but as time went on and the controlling possessive behavior grew into that three eyed monster, Paul was in deep and stuck. He was sure he loved Carl, no matter what the guy did to him, he stuck up for him against his friends, and no matter the bruises Carl left on Paul’s body, Paul continued to see the guy but it is also as if Paul didn’t think he had a choice. He blamed himself for Carl’s actions and felt he wasn’t being all that Carl needed and that’s why Carl did what he did. A common trait in an abused individual.
Did you ever start reading a suspense mystery story where you’ve met most all of the characters in the first chapter and found that you truly liked them and wanted to get to know them better? Then you realize there’s a serial killer on the loose and you just know—you just feel that the mad serial killer will indeed kill one of the secondary characters you’ve already fallen in love with and you find yourself muttering under your breath, something along the lines of. “Oh no. Certainly not, it can’t be him/her.” Then you read a bit more and you just feel the heartache coming. Yeah? Well, that happened at the start of this story.
The secondary character I just fell in love with right from the start is Lillian, who is also known as and prefers to be called, Lil. And Lil is Paul’s best friend, Brian’s lover who is a cross dresser. I just adore Lil and from the moment I met Lil, I just knew that the crazy serial killer would break my heart and kill him. I mean, how could he not?
Lil doesn’t care for Paul and Paul doesn’t care for Lil, and this is due to Carl. Carl’s nasty behavior rubs off on Paul and he isn’t so nice to Lil, so Lil reacts with his own choice words of hurt and indifference. Do I blame him? No. Well, one night, after Carl left Paul tied to his bed and somewhat beaten, Lil and Paul come face to face with one another and slowly begin to develop a relationship. Lil also has a sad past. His brother, who he was estranged from for three years, was killed on the night they were to meet up again, so he didn’t get to see him and he holds a lot of hurt in his heart. Apparently Lil has a tough past to deal with himself, so he understands Paul better than Paul is willing to understand it himself.
If I can have two favorites please? Vic is my other favorite. He is so much more than a secondary character; he’s all that and then some. He is not only Lil’s brother’s lover, he’s the cop who figures out who the serial killer is and he is the one who takes it upon himself to protect Paul from the mad man, even arresting him to protect him. Well, okay, he HAD to arrest him because the night that Carl left Paul tied up, a man was murdered and that evil Carl, who stole Paul’s wallet left a credit card at the crime scene therefore making Paul the guilty party. But Vic saw it as more of a way to protect Paul and he jumped at it. Ultimately this allowed for the real killer to get caught.
Now, I want to speak here about Carl simply because we spent a lot of time in Carl’s head, and it was done in the 3rd person, whereas Paul was all done in the 1st person.
Carl’s childhood created the person he became—as a child he had no control over his life. As an adult, that’s all he had. And it’s a given that as adults we have choices and paths to take in life. That we decide how we’ll live our lives no matter what happened in our past and though it may be difficult and there will be times you just don’t think you can hang on, you do it and you look for a brighter day and you leave the past where it belongs. But sometimes people can’t do that. Sometimes that evil painful past lives on as if it was still the present. It interferes with life and makes one unstable. This is Carl. At just nine years old, motherless Carl, and his father lived alone in a rural part of town. Kevin, his father, is a hateful, unyielding individual. He treats his scared son in ways children shouldn’t ever be subjected to. He shows young Carl what anger and love is using only physical means. Though I highly doubt love had anything to do with it, it was the only way Kevin knew how to express what he felt, the same as Carl as an older man. It’s a taught behavior. They express anger the only way they’d been shown. By hitting and controlling other people and they do this by lashing out.
Kevin taught young Carl that once he finds someone he loves more than anyone else, you gotta keep them in line, make them understand your love with authority. It’s the only way that way they can’t rip your heart out—the same way Kevin’s wife did to him, then he goes on to warn Carl that he has to take away every danger, every other person that threatens or could threaten his relationship because if you don’t they’ll fuck you over and screw with you and leave you broken. After that lesson Kevin proceeds to beat his the terrified nine year old boy with a leather belt across his chest, over and over.
Once the beating was over, the young Carl gets to his knees in prayer and said, “Please, God, let me be just like my daddy. If I’m not, he’ll hurt me some more.” If that isn’t enough to tug at your heart, I just ask if you have one.
Now we see why Carl is the way he is. He kills to take away the threats those strangers could be to his and Paul’s relationship. He’s practicing what his father taught him. Carl truly loved Paul and he showed this the only way he knew how.
Am I making excuses for Carl’s behavior? No, no I’m not. But you truly feel an ache in your heart when you hear of a child who’s being abused—they’re so defenseless to help themselves. Those children, if not saved, and if not killed, grow up and they go one of two ways with their lives. Carl went the wrong way, the only way he knew. He survived his childhood, but badly damaged. So now we see where his instability stems from and you feel for that child. You feel for the young nine year old Carl, however, as an adult you despise what he is and what he becomes. He is the victim no longer he is the threat. The pattern of abuse continues. Young Carl had a childhood full of constraints, rules and abuse and then we wonder why he is the way he is. And we say we hate him and we want him to pay dearly, and we forget that this man is that injured child that had no one to hold him, to love him, to protect him. Am I making excuses? No, I’m simply stating fact.
Can you imagine when going home meant fear and admonishment? Oh, and lets not forget the weapon of choice—the belt. This was used by Kevin, and later by Carl to Paul. The belt is a powerful symbol; it represents love and pain, perpetuating the cycle of both desire and victimization. The person wielding it, the victim, the person receiving the pain/love from the victim is the object of desire/victim. Do you see the pattern?
I’m still not excusing Carl’s behavior. I’m merely saying it’s not a shock that Carl turned into the killer he is. He had a life of depravity and unhappiness. He has no clue how to really love. And instead of searching for the why’s— go with the who knows why they do what they do? Ultimately Carl had choices and he made his own, as wrong as we see them, as wrong as they are, they were his to make. He had the choice to pick the path and break the pattern. He, however, chose not to. Out of love he killed—or so he said and it was that obsessive love that destroyed him in the end. The man he loved, the man he was obsessed with, the man he killed for, now must learn that none of what happened was his fault, he couldn’t have said or done anything different to change the path Carl had taken. No matter how badly Paul wanted to save Carl, from himself, he couldn’t, no matter how much he loved him. Because Carl chose the wrong path a long time ago.
Sarah Masters and Jaime Samms wrote a powerful, intriguing story that sits low in the romance department but high in the angst and drama side. Abuse is not love, so to expect this story to be about love, is coming to it with blinders on. This is a story that is meant to put your heart in your throat just waiting to see what would happen next and it’s a story of how love can heal the hurt heart. I truly hope Sarah and Jamie team up again and bring me more of Brian and Lil and more of Vic and Paul. Lot’s of potential there.