Salvage by Con Riley

18345321Title:  Salvage

Author:  Con Riley

Genre:  Contemporary

Length:  Novel (234 pages)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press, September 15th, 2013

Heat Level: Explicit (read  … HoT!)

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Reviewer:  Mandingo

Blurb:   Five years ago, an accident fractured Gabe Cooper’s family. Believing it was broken beyond repair, Gabe and his best friend Jamie Carlson left Minnesota behind for San Diego sunshine and college. Now another crisis brings Gabe home to help his ailing father, and he finally has to face the guilt that kept him away for so long. 

Scott Stark also returns to Minnesota, with his young niece and nephew in tow, shouldering new family responsibilities. While Gabe comes to grips with his past, Scott struggles to accept his present role as a substitute parent, caring for two children, each with different needs. As Gabe and Scott get to know each other, reclaiming family life almost seems possible. Only two things stand in the way of love: Gabe’s unresolved relationship with Jamie, and Scott’s plan to leave Minnesota as soon as he can. Both men will have to accept past mistakes if they want to salvage a future together, and time is running out.

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Review:   “Since I’ve been home, I’ve figured out that you can’t fix things from a distance, and you can’t expect change after a single conversation. You have to live your life and let people decide what’s more real—how you used to be, or how you are now. And”—he looked across to the kitchen window—“I don’t think that’s ever a quick thing. It takes time to see past first impressions.”

The quote from the book above sums up the story of Salvage in a simple sentence.  By the time I was half way through the book, I stopped and made the note – Theme: Disillusionment and realizing the things and the people who are really important will always be there if you take the time to see it.  I held that opinion to the end of the book. The sentence above only confirms my opening opinion.

Salvage is one of those books that you start reading and then you find yourself sinking into your blanket and pulling up the covers as you wrap yourself up in the story.  It’s the type of story where somewhere you begin to identify with the character so much that you feel everything that they feel. The first time Scott kissed Gabe, I just about ignited, and I could sense every single combustible emotion both men were reeling from.

The story is about so many things.   For both Gabe and Scott it’s about finding a new reality, and understanding that you are not defined by your past and that you can create a life that you want if you are willing to make the sacrifice for it and if you are willing to see that the path you thought was the right now, may not necessarily be so.  Gabe is named after an angel and he portrays one in the book.  He’s larger than life without even knowing it. He’s a good, decent man who doesn’t quite see himself that way.  He knows that it’s the right thing to do to help people. But it is in helping Scott that he found his own salvation and his own route to happiness, by accepting that he needed to accept that his life had changed and carve out a new ‘now’.  It was in letting go of his past, that he was able to change not only his own life, but that of Scott, his father, sister and his best friend, Jamie.

The story is well crafted; the language beautiful, the dialogue meaningful and the pace of the story allows the reader to be sucked into the characters and to feel them in a way that is real and tangible. You can feel Scott’s frustration at not knowing how to handle suddenly being a single parent; you can sense Gabe’s fear of creating any more strife in a family that he’s not quite sure he deserves. You don’t always understand Gabe’s father’s anger but you root for him and Gabe to find a resolution and their way back to each other.  And you find yourself despising Jamie only to be jolted into a reality that makes him such a believable and sympathetic character.

The journeys that these man embark upon is not just about them being together, it’s about the reality of ‘how’ they can meaningfully be together and how they blend their lives, dreams and hopes to make a life together that incorporates not just them but all those whom they call family.

Another excellent piece of work Ms. Riley – I look forward to reading more.