Review "Life After Joe" by Harper Fox
Two broken souls who heal each other
Matt was dumped. His partner Joe decided to bow to family pressure and settle down with a woman, have kids, the whole dream come true. So he left his committed relationship with Matt, cheated behind his back with a woman, proposed to her and then calmly told Matt he was leaving him.
And that did it. Drove Matt over the edge, and six months later he is drinking every night, sleeping with any man he can find, and getting very close to blowing his residency at the hospital and not becoming a doctor. And it is when he is out drinking and looking for the lay of the night that he sees Aaron.
Aaron is a mystery. Handsome, built, sure of himself. But he never does more than exchange pleasantries with the men who try to chat him up, and never leaves with anyone. But when Matt catches his eye, drunk, getting tossed out of the bar for having sex in public, he breaks his own rules and gives Matt a hand up and a walk home.
And right then, Matt takes a look at himself, his decisions, his behaviors. Joe's wife drops by to tell him he needs to sell the home he and Joe shared, as Joe wants his equity out. And decides it's enough. No more limbo. No more drinking and whoring.
"No point in an autopsy, picking over all the points at which my life had slowly died."
And so the two become lovers and friends. Matt hears Aaron calling our for Rosie in his sleep, and assumes he has a wife, another life. But the attraction is strong, and he knows he wants Aaron. For as long as he can have him.
"It was welcome, protest at the size of him, wild-excitement - a sudden grief that, of all the men I'd let inside my body, for the first time I wanted one."
Then Joe reappears, wanting Matt back. Will Joe go back? Or will he take a chance on Aaron? And will Aaron tell Joe the truth about Rosie?
Harper Fox has written a gentle and joyful book about two broken men who somehow find their way to each other and find the strength to love again. Their pains shape them, both men thinking they would ever emerge from it. And when they do, man, it is beautiful.
I loved this book. The quietness and care and love shine through.