The Telling (The Telling, #1)

The Telling (The Telling, #1) - Eden Winters This is an emotional and traumatic story of a young man broken by war and so desperately alone, who finds the love he needs to help put the pieces back together in the place he was only too eager to escape from four years earlier...3.5 stars

This is an emotional read and the author has done a great job of endearing the reader to the mental and emotional trauma this young man Michael experiences after being rejected by the Army... with four years in Afghanistan, he had fulfilled his patriotic duty.

He had survived an attack which left him deaf in one ear, he is debilitated by nightmares caused by PTSD which also leaves him scared of his own shadow... and now no longer a fighting machine but a liability, Michael is now surplus to requirements... But he was alive, which is more than could be said of so many others including his best friend.

Not only is Michael dealing with the baggage of four years service, he is also confused about his sexuality... The Army's DADT policy pretty much put those inclinations on the back burner, but one night of mutual compassion and consolatory grief, turns the whole thing on it's head and it's just another battle he his fighting internally.

Four years ago, Michael had left the small town of Cookesville, Alabama a young boy, running away and wanting to see the World. He wanted to escape from the life that was expected of him... the teenage marriage, that was sooOoo not going to happen, the small minded bigotry of the town folk and the abusive stepfather that did his best to make Michaels life a misery. It was also the only way he was ever going to have enough money to see himself through college.

Now returning home, he is wrapped up in the exuberant love of his family, with his Mother and sister Angie both a force to be reckoned with, they go about taking care of him, just so happy to have him back home and alive. It is through Angie he meets the tall dark and handsome Jay, with his southern drawl, he was drawn to Jay as though he were under a spell he couldn't quite fathom... but his body was definitely getting the gist!

We get to see their romance develop from both points of view, which was a little frustrating at times as we are aware of both their insecurities and I just wanted to shout at them and say "get on with it!" but where is the story in that?

Michael is broken, damaged both mentally and physically. He is afraid of leaving the sanctuary of his apartment needing someone with him at all times in case of anxiety attacks. Jay's easy going personality, and great compassion make him recognise his feelings for what they are and deep down he knows what he wants... never mind how fucked up his life is, he wants Jay. But wanting Jay means he will have to deal with coming out of the "closet" and admitting not only to himself but to his family and those in the town that are narrow minded enough to voice their views, non more so than his Stepfather Crawford Shiller who had traumatised him to the point of fear for most of his childhood.

It was lovely seeing the experienced Jay taking the very inexperienced Michael under his wing and just love him, it truly is a beautiful love story filled with passion and understanding with Jay taking him through the intimacy slowly wanting the experience to be unforgettable whilst still embracing Michael with the care and compassion he still needs. Michael for the first time in his life feels complete, really knowing that his feelings are true and the great void of loneliness that had been suffocating him was now filled with the love of this honest, fun loving man...

There are some great characters in this book, and I liked how they all took an active role in Michaels recovery, there is a theme of the importance of family and friends... the love and support both given and received and how they too are emotionally affected by the traumas of war.

My only issue with the book was with the pacing, slow in parts where we are given some of the background and at times where it returns to the ravages of Afghanistan... I found myself skipping in parts, which is something I hate doing... I wanted more on the relationship! But other than that it was a very believable and enjoyable read.

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