Con Riley
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Release Date
May 2014
Book 2 of Salvage Stories
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

San Diego is a city of second chances for Jamie Carlson. His new career as a photographer is taking off, and with the support of a loving surrogate family, he's finally putting his party years behind him. The Bailey family helped him solve his drinking problem, but there's no easy solution to staying sober now that Belle Bailey's dying. Her last wish is a challenge Jamie can't overcome without help.

Solving problems is Daniel Priest's specialty. More than twenty years older than Jamie, he's successful and experienced. He makes his living resolving corporate crises—but his personal life has been far from perfect. Now that his marriage is over, Daniel's determined to make up for lost time. One night with Jamie isn't nearly enough for him.

Daniel's honest offer of help is more than Jamie expects from a one-time hookup. Even so, fulfilling Belle's last wish is a tall order. Repairing her damaged family as she requests proves difficult when Jamie has to face his own past as well. Jamie could risk his hard-won recovery by admitting why he hit rock bottom in the first place. If he wants a future with Daniel, he'll have to address those reasons head-on.

Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Jul 03, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
223 people found the following review helpful
When the only real mother he's ever known is diagnosed with terminal cancer, a former bad boy, now a rising photographer, meets the challenge with love and art.

Jamie Carlson, last seen in Riley's Salvage, has turned his life around after joining Alcoholics Anonymous and being given Alec Bailey as his sponsor. Bailey brings with him his wife Belle, who has given Jamie what he's always missed: a mother.

When Belle is diagnosed with cancer, she asks Jamie, now a rising photographer, to record the family's last years. This is difficult on many levels for Jamie, particularly as he's still struggling with sobriety and watching her dwindle away makes him crave the blackouts alcohol provides.

Into his life comes successful businessman Daniel Priest, twenty years his senior, who's newly divorced after deciding to stop living a lie and embrace the fact that he's gay. As he watches Jamie struggle with Belle's decline, Daniel provides part of the support the younger man needs to fulfill his promise to Belle.

A source of irritation, however, is Alec and Belle's son, a children's book author, who has resented Jamie since his parents informally adopted him and who hates his once-alcoholic father for his past neglect of the family.

When I first started reading the book, I thought that Jamie and the children's book author were going to be the ones to hook up since they started out sniping at one another, but seemed to have a solid bond. I discounted Daniel, not because of his age, but because he seemed to be exploring his new life as a gay man. Even though he kept saying that he'd had his flings while he was married, Daniel struck me as someone who was ready to play rather than settle down again.

Jamie, on the other hand, I thought, required someone to love him unconditionally and to help stabilize him as he went through the traumatic months before Belle's death. He had the wonderfully sympathetic and empathetic Alec as a sponsor, but Jamie's heart was reaching out for an anchor.

Not only that but anyone who's been an adopted sibling knows what an untenable position Jamie is in. The familial discord and the angst surrounding Belle's slow death ring true through Riley's adept descriptions and dialogue. All the characters are so empathetic that I defy readers to get through the book without a richly deserved tissue or two.

Fortunately, Jamie is nourished and supported by Daniel, but in the end, I wasn't quite as convinced about what Daniel saw in the younger man, other than his outstanding talent for photography.

Make no mistake, RECOVERY is the story of a family's struggle with death and all of the angst is warranted. More than a romantic love story, it's a story about love in general, and it's better because it is.
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