For Becket “Cat” Rowland, falling in love has never been easy. The summer he meets Micah Forbes, the intensity of his feelings brings back all the memories of eight years earlier.
Following a brutal attack that left him nearly dead, Cat is a mess inside and out. To cope with the trauma and with his view of himself that he’s nothing but an empty shell, he’s taken three vows: simplicity, chastity, and silence. His once colorful, trendy, and often feminine wardrobe has been replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and he’s sworn off men. He locks himself away from the world, using the memorized prayers of his childhood as his only speech.
Cat is lost to himself and everyone around him until another hospitalization introduces him to nurse David Simms. David takes Cat’s silence in stride, caring for him without pushing and slowly building Cat’s trust.
Outside the hospital, Cat discovers he has more in common with David than he knew, and they begin to build a friendship. As it slowly grows into love, David reveals his own need for someone to take him as he is. Cat begins to let go of his vows one by one, only holding onto the silence.
Despite how far he’s come, Cat’s increasingly severe panic attacks threaten to undo everything David has helped him build. Cat’s only hope is to break the final vow and tell the truth about the night of his attack. When David fails to keep a promise he made to be there for him, Cat has to stand on his own and prove to himself he’s strong enough to survive.
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Cat wriggled into the trousers and buttoned the shirt, tucking it in before adding a belt. From the recesses of his closet, he took out the one tie he owned. He hadn’t worn it in years, and he didn’t recall why he had it in the first place. Probably a gift from his Nana. At his dresser, he fumbled with it until he finally had the knot done properly. He paused with his hand on his jewelry box, but he didn’t open the lid. No earring today, and no lip gloss either. He turned around to look at himself in the full-length mirror on the back of his door and gasped, tears springing to his eyes. He hated what he saw.
He looked like a man. An ordinary, professional man, someone who went to an office every day and put numbers in a computer. He didn’t want to be the person in the mirror. He wished desperately that he could add a bit of makeup and paint his nails, anything to make him look less dull. With a heavy sigh he sat down on his bed to pull on his socks.
At the light rap on his door, he stood up to open it. LR stepped in. She smiled, but it appeared more pitying than pleased.
“You look…nice,” she said.
“No, I don’t.” Cat returned to his dresser to fiddle with his hair, combing it into something equally boring as his attire.
“You do,” LR insisted. “But you don’t look like you.”
Cat spun around to face her. “Bryce was right.”
“Uh…okay. About what?” LR frowned.
“He always said I was girlie.” Cat swallowed. “He was right, though, wasn’t he? I am.”
“Yes,” LR agreed. “Very much. So what?”
“So—” Cat stopped in his tracks. So nothing. A smile crept across his face. “It’s not a bad thing.”
LR laughed. “Of course not!”
“I mean, it’s true. I always wanted to be like you, in a way.”
“Nah.” LR shook her head. “I’m the only one who can pull off being me. You have to find who you are, Kitty-Cat.”
He exhaled on a light laugh. “I’m not even sure. You know, I tried looking it up. There are all these words for who I might be—fairy, femme, gender-bender, gender fluid, genderqueer…genderfuck.” He giggled.
LR put a hand to her mouth to hold back her own giggle. She lowered her fingers and said, “I like that last one. It suits you, for some reason.”
This can definitely be read as a standalone book, and although it is technically a prequel it can easily be read either before or after the other book in the series Passing on Faith
I loved Cat from the very beginning. A catastrophic event entirely changed his character and I think the character sketching at the beginning was rich and complete enough to allow us to see how drastic that change was and to identify the odd snatches of the "old" Cat when they started to come through. I loved how his stubbornness and steadfastness remained, albeit in a different form.
Cat is a very complex character and there are a number of great foils, including his family that help us see the complete picture. I just loved his inner voice and his inner dialogue is charming even if it's sometimes misguided. Everything makes sense, everything follows, and everything flows.
In the general writing of the book, I can't find any fault at all. It has character, it has depth and it has a coherent and engaging story. The medical aspects were clearly well researched and I learned a lot about the difficulties faced by people struggling with haemophilia something I only knew about in an anecdotal way beforehand.
David, when he was introduced had me falling in love with him immediately and I can see completely how he wormed his way into Cat's closed heart. My one and only complaint about the book arises from his ultimate demise. Such a lot of time was taken over developing his character and showing just how much he enriched Cat's life, his death was almost a perfunctory comment at the end. I appreciate that death, especially like David's, is sudden and shocking and is over in a blink, but I would have liked to see more about how it impacted on those around him, and especially Cat.
I think that if I had read Passing on Faith (the first published book in the series) first I would have had less of a problem as the impact of David's death is mentioned there, but I still think David deserved more.
That being said, it's one aspect, one thread in an extremely rich tapestry and I would have no hesitation at all in recommending this book. In fact I would go as far as to say that if you like rich and interesting books with struggles to overcome and an ending that might not be a HEA but definitely leaves you with a warm feeling of satisfaction then this is definitely the book for you. It's a "feel good" book without any fluff and a very sweet love story.
About the Author:
A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.
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