Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: A World Apart
AUTHOR: Mel Gough
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 196 Pages
RELEASE DATE: September 18, 2017
Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.
When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.
With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.
I was of two minds as to whether I wanted to read this book, so when the author sent through a request for a review I took it as a sign that it was meant to be. I’m so glad I took a chance and gave it a go.
Our two main characters are Ben and Donnie. Ben is a well respected police sergeant, who married his college sweetheart and now lives in a nice house with his wife and daughter. For many years now the focus of his life has been progressing his career and though he had an idea that his marriage had about run its course, his wife’s demand for a divorce was also unexpected.
Donnie is just a goddamn hot mess. It would take me too long to go through all of Donnie’s issues, but needless to say, the men meet at a time when they both could use the support of another person. Despite coming from absolutely opposite worlds, Ben and Donnie quickly fall in love and dedicate themselves to building a new life together.
The story is told from Ben’s point of view, but every now and again the author would begin a new chapter with a glimpse from Donnie’s perspective. I actually liked the way that the author handled this aspect. Ben was the character who was dealing with the most changes to his life so I appreciated the story focusing mostly on him. But you do always wish you had some idea of what was going on in the other character’s head, so here we get that – the best of both worlds. And just to be clear, the switches from Ben to Donnie were clear and didn’t cause any confusion.
This book was strong on the hurt/comfort themes. Actually, I think that side of the story was spotlighted more than the romance. In that way, the story had a realistic feel to it. The first time the men fall into bed together there’s no earth shattering sex. Instead they experience the somewhat awkward excitement of learning a new lover. There’s absolutely nothing pretty about this story, nothing perfect about these characters. Even Ben, the king of patience and understanding has his moments of what-the-fuckery. I really liked the way the author wrote Ben, the “hero” of the story who is falling in love with Donnie while struggling to let go of his wife. And in case that made anyone hesitant to read this – there’s no cheating involved. Ben and his wife are separated before Ben starts seeing Donnie.
Speaking of Ben’s wife. I loved her involvement in this book. She was awesome, yet once again, flawed and believable. I think the author did a great job with her character, not resorting to the crazy bitch who deserves to be left by her husband, but not making her so perfectly sweet that she caused tooth decay. She was perhaps my favourite character of the story.
As much as I enjoyed this story, I did have a few issues that I just couldn’t look past. As much as I loved the idea of Ben and Donnie together at times I struggled to believe that their relationship could survive long term. Donnie is ill for the majority of the book and sometimes Ben seemed more like a carer than a boyfriend. The fact that Ben called Donnie “buddy” constantly – CONSTANTLY – made the inequality between them seem even greater. And by inequality, I mean that Ben seems like the mature adult and Donnie the pseudo child who needs looking after. To some extent this worked because of Donnie’s health problems, but I think I really needed to see an epilogue with Donnie healthy and contributing to the relationship more.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it to other readers.