TW: Abuse, both on page and mentioned, PTSD, war violence
Funny note: I didn't know Ms. Henry is from Australia, so when the story opened up with Cole's car in a ditch because he swerved to avoid hitting a "roo" I thought, "that's a weird thing to call a rooster." It wasn't until a couple of pages later when the tow truck shows up and Cole says he has some things in the boot of the car (aka, the trunk) that I realized where the story was taking place and the "roo" comment clicked into place - kangaroo. D'oh. :P
And that's the last time I laughed during this story, because this is very much not a comedy.
Good things first:
This is the first story by Ms. Henry I've read and overall, I like her writing style. It's approachable, it's melancholy but without being angsty, and it flows well. There weren't any glaring typos or grammatical errors. No complaints there.
There's a doggie and she's adorable.
I thought some of Aiden's reactions to his abuse and his sheltered life were very well written and starkly told. There's some good imagery there.
Not so good things:
There is too much going on in too short a time, and the story felt squeezed in where it would've benefitted more from being given room to breathe.
The logic fail and lack of details had me scratching me head throughout most of the first half of this story. What made it more distracting is that a line or two would've been sufficient enough to curtail most of these issues. Why didn't Cole call his insurance company after the accident to get a rental? Is that not a thing that happens in Australia? Why didn't the mechanic ever call Cole about his car? They didn't even call him to give him a quote on the repairs or an estimated time for the repairs to be completed. After Cole finds Aiden beaten nearly to death, he doesn't call an ambulance because his phone is dead and needs to be recharged first. Um... that's not how cell phones work. Just plug it into the wall - instant charge. Yeah, you can't walk around with it, but you can certainly make a phone call while it charges. Don't even get me started on Cole's unprofessional doctor of a sister. She should have her license revoked, that's all I'm saying.
Then there's the whole not-a-mystery about Aiden's mom. The foreshadowing was more like fore-floodlighting. Any more "clues" and I would've needed shades to fend off the glare of the obvious conclusion.
Aiden's family comes across like a non-creepy version of The Benders. They're given zero development.
Cole's supposed to have PTSD from his service in the military fighting the war. We're told this several times. We're never shown it.
The romance felt shoehorned in because all of this is taking place in a few weeks, while Aiden is still massively injured. I've known people who have survived abusive relationships and it is absolutely possible for them to lead happy lives with healthy relationships. Eventually. Before that, there's this thing called healing time, not just for the physical injuries but the emotional and psychological ones as well. Aiden barely knows Cole and he's just days from being brutally beaten after a lifetime of abuse. That's not enough time to process everything that's happened to him.
There's a good story here, and certainly it has its fans, but I needed more time for the story to take place.