|Series:||Vino & Veritas #5|
|Characters:||Brent & Joe|
|Published:||March 29, 2021|
|Archetype:||Hurt/Comfort, Hockey player|
I know I keep saying this, but the Vino and Veritas collection of books are AMAZING. I haven’t read them all yet, but I sure plan to. Aftermath might be my favourite. Brent and Joe are a bit of an unlikely couple, but they’re so so good together.
Brent is still recovering from a horrific car accident a year earlier. His career as a pro hockey player ended that night, and along with it, the only life he had ever known. A crushed pelvis and shattered hip resulted in severe chronic pain. Trying to adjust to this new reality would be hard for anyone, but for a pro athlete, it was like his identity was stolen that night. Brent doesn’t recognize himself anymore, not only physically – between the scars and the muscle atrophy, his body embarrasses him, which he’s never experienced. Mentally, he’s struggling to figure out who he is without hockey. It’s a heartbreaking situation and I thought LA Witt did a great job of showing how hopeless Brent felt. It was easy to understand his hopelessness – even though he had all the money he could ever need, it was pointless if he felt like an intruder in his own body.
Joe is dealing with the aftermath of a different kind of tragedy. After being married for nearly 20 years, getting over his divorce from his wife, and trying to adjust to being a single, gay man as well as a single dad has knocked him off balance. Though he’s a massage therapist by day, a couple of evenings a week he plays guitar and sings at Vino, and writing and performing the music is starting to help him heal. Joe is an absolutely WONDERFUL person. He’s genuine and so so kind. Even after their first ill-fated attempt at hooking up went off the rails, once he knew Brent’s story, he never once judged him or made him feel inadequate. Joe is the kind of person you really want in your life. Someone who will sincerely accept you, making allowances where he needs to, but not treating you any differently than anyone else.
The relationship between them is so touching. They both discover that they are starved for affection and touch, it’s not just about sex. They both crave intimacy, and the fact that they aren’t always able to have actual intercourse makes their relationship even more intimate. I adored this book and I’ll probably read it again!