Erryn reviews Love After Chaos by Dara J. Nelson (Published by Dare Press, July 30, 2017, 341 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: .I wanted to read a book with characters with HIV.
A jaded and damaged former porn star living with HIV, going through life with a series of ‘friends’ because you believe you can’t ever love or be loved by anyone.
A single, straight man with a diagnosis he never in a million years thought he’d have.
A chance meeting and they both realize that this really could be something more, something amazing, something….life changing.
What would you do?
If you’re these men, you grab on as tight as you can, you fight with everything you’ve got and when that doesn’t seem like enough, when things seem to be slipping through your fingers…..you dig deep to try and find some way to fight even more.
“Connor?” Tony whispered as he threaded their fingers together.
“I’m falling too. But I’m ready to hang on tight and see where we land together.”
Because they’re worth it, they both are. And together they hope to both find that it is possible to find love after this chaos.
This is an adult M/M romance intended for readers over 18. It has an HEA (happily ever after) for the main characters in this book with no cheating.
When you have one thing in common, is it enough?
The book opens with a party scene featuring many men – most already paired up. This is the second book in the series and perhaps if I had read book one, I wouldn’t have felt quite so lost. But I continued and soon things began to fall into place.
There is an instant attraction between Tony and Connor. Off-the-charts chemistry that stuns them both. One is a straight man who was badly burned by his ex-wife and the other is a former porn star known for a long string of hook-ups.
And this is just another quickie – right?
No, for which I was glad.
Within the first couple of scenes, it became apparent that both men are HIV positive. Although there are many m/m books written – and the vast majority show safe sex practices where condoms abound – having a story with both men being positive is different. And while this book could have been maudlin and depressing, it is anything but.
How they acquired the disease was different, but both experiences have left the men traumatized and they are slow to trust.
Connor is worried that the previously straight Tony is only in the relationship because Connor is HIV positive. In turn, Tony is jealous of the parade of men who have been rotating through Connor’s bedroom.
In the end, the HIV plays only a small role in their lives. There is a lot of medical information which is accurate, but it is not a primary focus of the story. It’s more an assurance the men are taking care of their health.
Instead, the focus is on careers, friends, and family. These are just two ordinary guys. When their past traumas come to the fore, however, it threatens their relationship. The fact they are able to support each other through the highs and the lows speaks to the love.
I enjoyed the book. There were a couple of minor errors – wrong names used – but they weren’t too distracting. At one point, a character is relating his first sexual experience and it didn’t feel authentic to me – I wasn’t sure a young guy would talk like that – but, again, it didn’t detract from the story. Finally, there was a lot of head-hopping – alternating point of view between the two main characters in the same scene. There were also some unnecessary flashbacks. I only mention these things as a heads-up. Don’t let them deter you from reading this great book.
I am planning to read any subsequent books in the series.
A little bit about Dara Nelson. I also write under the pen name Kendel Duncan. Why did I choose a pen name? It seemed simple at the time – different genres. I started out writing M/F paranormal romance books, vampires and such. And while I still do love a good vampire tale – it’s the M/F part that guided me to separate my writing. My characters changed. They let me know that my heart, my love, my joy was in writing M/M fiction so that is where I am firmly ensconced and where I plan to stay. But I now write MM in both my pen name and my name, which might seem odd and trust me, I’ve considered many times the idea of merging the two, but I have followers, readers of both my works and I would hate to alienate anyone who follows one but not the other.
So a little about the lady behind the curtain: After growing up in Northern California, I now call the Seattle-Tacoma area of the beautiful Pacific Northwest my home. I am passionate about writing, about photography, about my family, my husband, my kids, about nature….basically I’m passionate about everything in my life – and that shows through in my romance/erotica/suspense novels. When I am not writing, you can usually find me hiking somewhere around Mt. Rainier or visiting with the many animals on my farm.
First and foremost, I am a writer. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am. It’s my lifeblood, it’s my heart, it is what makes my soul sing.
It is from that passion that I choose to give back, that I reach out to other authors to offer tips, suggestions, help and guidance. And I’m so grateful to the incredible LGBTQ community that I now firmly hold in my embrace and who holds me just as tight in theirs – you are my guiding light, my inspiration. I am in awe of your strength
We all have a voice….and it deserves to be heard.