Dana reviews The Anatomy of Perception by AJ Rose (Published by The Grim Writer Press, March 10, 2015, 373 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
This week, reviewers at Rainbow Gold Reviews were asked to pick books for each other they thought the other reviewer might enjoy. I picked ‘Vespertine’ by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn for Marc, because I loved the story and because Marc and I come from similar backgrounds so we might relate to the book in a similar way. Bethany picked The Anatomy of Perception for me, because we had co-reviewed AJ Rose’s Power Exchange Trilogy and we both loved the author’s writing. The book is a little bit longer in length and very different from the trilogy, but I was excited to read her take on a completely different subject.
Blurb: In the beginning, there was wreckage. Dane Perry’s mother was dead, and the father who always said he’d amount to nothing blamed him. Dane swore he’d become something. He would be someone.
In the middle, there was escape. Rebuilding his life from the ashes of his mother’s memory, Dane found success as a respected surgeon, and love in the form of Craig Dahl, a talented artist who became his everything. But there was also darkness, lies, and a crumbling foundation just waiting for the ground to shift.
In the end, there was a spectacular fall, illusions shattered, and for Dane, nothing more to lose. He was broken, damaged, and left with fierce demons. But from the bottom, the only way left is up. Dane renewed friendships and salvaged his career. The only thing he cannot replace is Craig. But Dane has a plan. Brick by brick, his foundation is rebuilt, and all he needs is for Craig to listen one last time.
In the beginning again, there’s hope and tatters of love. Can Dane repair the damage with Craig? Can he rescue the only thing he amounted to that ever truly mattered?
Content Warning: This book contains vivid descriptions of symptoms of PTSD and events that can cause anxiety. Reader discretion advised.
I really like when an author can write many stories where the plots of each might be as different from each other as night and day. I like different emotional undertones, different types of characters, and different genres. It shows how diverse an author is to create such different stories. So, I have to say I’m a little embarrassed that it took me a little while to get into this story. The Power Exchange trilogy was a mystery series occurring in the BDSM community. In this book we are reading about a med student turned doctor, turned physical therapist and an artist. Both are heavy in emotion and drama, with things that might trigger readers who have experienced trauma in their pasts, but they are so different and I think I was expecting something more similar. After the first chapter, however, I had moved on from my expectations and fell in love with this new story.
The book is all told from Dane’s point of view, and though I love books where both characters share equal space, the author did a great job of letting the reader feel what both Dane and Craig were feeling. The story alternates between the past and present as Dane tries to win Craig back, while showing how their relationship deteriorated, starting at present day. Each flashback was important to the story but I was wary each time, fearing the moment where things went wrong. That’s not to deter anyone from reading this book, because the reader has to know the why before wrongs can be made right.
I loved the characters in this book. Dane and Craig met when Dane was a med student. When Dane started his residency at a teaching hospital, he could have turned more cocky, as some other young doctors were, but he remained likable. The time he spent away from Dylan did seem to effect the relationship a bit, but the two had been together for a few years already so they were weathering it. Dylan is sweet and easy-going as an artist who sees beauty in all things. Except for Sabrina, another young doctor who worked with Dane. I could understand his worries, based on his past with a “gay collector” but since she was a woman, at times I found his jealousy to be a little overboard. I felt that he should have left Dane to figure her out on his own. Dane’s best friend Holly plays a big part in the story, and she was awesome. She had been with him through from the beginning and encouraged him in his relationship with Craig.
Ultimately there were a lot of things that blew up, and caused an end to their relationship. Dane’s silence about his past, his underlying PTSD, and his reservations of being out publicly with Craig hurt them badly. Dane had a hard time putting Craig through what he considered his baggage, and he seemed to really care about Craig’s happiness. A big lie was told and Craig who wanted to be with Dane through his ordeal, couldn’t overlook what happened. I think things were too stressful for them at that point to have made it through intact together. But in the present scenes, I could see how both characters had learned from what happened. It wasn’t an easy fix but they were both strong characters with good hearts, and neither had lost the love they felt for the other.
The Anatomy of Perception is an emotional read. Not that I was crying through the whole book, but I could feel the heaviness of the subject matter. I feel like the author must have done a lot of research to write this story because the details of what it’s like for a doctor during their residency and the operations they might perform were very informative. Also the subject of mental health, PTSD, and rehabilitation felt realistic. I know I am lucky that I have no idea what it means to have PTSD, traumatic past events, or triggers. Because of that. I can’t know exactly how the characters of this book might have felt but I think the author did a great job of showing how mental illness affects the afflicted and the ones they care about. I’m just so glad that both characters found an inner strength and persevered their way to a happy ending.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this author’s work, I highly recommend it. She has created another unique story in the m/m romance genre. I am so glad that I pushed through my early hesitation and finished the book. It was an amazing story.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
It began with a Halloween themed short story assignment from a second grade teacher, and from then on, AJ Rose fell head over heels in love with writing. Time has seen the beginning and end of many things, college and graduation, a finance career, and a marriage, and through it all, writing has been her first love. Now, AJ is also head over heels for her wife-to-be, fellow author Kate Aaron, who gets it, the twitchy fingers when word counts are low too many consecutive days, the thousand-yard stare when an idea turns AJ’s vision inward, and the jitters when the word-babies go out to meet the world. Nothing could stop the tall tales about imaginary people that refused to be ignored. With a life full of this much passion, it’s no wonder AJ chose romance. The voices in her head are mostly of the male persuasion, so m/m romance was about the only option. But don’t be surprised if the occasional ghost still pops up. AJ’s work can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance eBooks. AJ tweets as @_AJRose and blogs at http://ajrosewrites.wordpress.com, where there is more information about future titles.