Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: How To Heal A Life
SERIES: The Haven #2
AUTHOR: Sloan Parker
PUBLISHER: Self Published
RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017
Seth Fisher has been to hell and back, but he has no intention of letting the torment of his past destroy his future. He thinks he’s doing good. He’s working again, talking, laughing, living. But everyone else still sees him as broken.
Except for one man. Raymond Vargas.
If only Seth could leave his apartment alone without a panic attack, then he could prove to everyone he’s going to be okay. And he could tell the one man who has never let him down that he wants him.
Raymond Vargas has spent the past two years trying to make up for what happened to six young men who were tortured at the hands of a member of his club. He’d do anything to keep them safe, to help them heal and move on, to help them forget they ever set foot inside the Haven.
If only he hadn’t fallen in love with one of them.
If only Seth wasn’t still in danger.
This review may contain spoilers for the previous book in the series.
I love the way Sloan Parker tells a story, and How to Heal a Life is no exception. This second book in The Haven series begins with a prologue that continues on right where the first book left off. Having read the previous story, it’s hard to say if you need to read that one first, but I highly recommend that you do. How to Save a Life (The Haven #1) revolves around the disappearances of young men from a gay sex club. The plot leads us through that investigation and the rescue of the men from the hands of a sadistic madman. One of those rescued young men was Seth Fisher, and How to Heal a Life (The Haven #2) tells Seth’s story. From the prologue we skip forward two years, and though I’m not a fan of time jumps, there was really nothing else that could be done here. The contrast of Seth directly after his rescue and Seth two years into his recovery was a necessary distinction. Seth has severe (and understandable) PTSD and I felt that I really needed to witness that improvement in him to trust that a relationship could actually work. At the same time a rushed recovery would have been totally implausible, hence the two-year jump.
The relationship between Vargas and Seth is already somewhat established before the first chapter begins. Not in a romantic sense, but Vargas is already one of the most important people in Seth’s life. And vise versa. Vargas is the owner of The Haven, and feels responsible for Seth and the other young men who were kidnapped from his club. But his feelings for Seth have grown into much more than just guilt and a sense of duty. Seth, likewise, has developed deep feelings for Vargas, but doesn’t believe that a man like the club owner could possibly be interested in him. Nothing about that scenario sounds all that new a concept, but I thought the author went about growing their relationship in an interesting way. Both men are somewhat aware of the attraction the other has for them, but neither makes a move for his own reasons. The sense of intimacy is already there between them well before anything physical develops. When they finally do “get together” there isn’t any backwards/forwards misunderstandings or dramas. They’re both refreshingly clear about their feelings, and when one of them screws up, the other forgives them rather than creates a scene. That might sound kind of boring, but trust me, this book was hardly boring. Seth and Vargas both had enough issues to work through without adding a dramatic relationship to the mix.
That’s not to say that there’s no passion. I liked the way that the author approached the intimacy between Seth and Vargas, given that Seth had been raped and abused in the previous book. The love that these two men felt for each other came through in their sex scenes, both the tender lovemaking and frenzied fucking.
But I think what I enjoyed most about this book was Seth’s strength. Seth needs help, but he doesn’t need rescuing. When it comes down to it, he rescues himself just fine, even though he still has limitations. Even though he ends up face to face with his greatest fear, he finds the strength to prevail. And kick ass doing it.
I recommend pretty much anything this author has written, but I do have a definite fondness for this series. When I thought Vargas might sell The Haven I was inwardly wailing – but what about the sequels!! Fear not, there will be more in this series. And in the mean time, if you’re a fan of ménage, definitely check out More by Sloan Parker, the first book that I read by this author and the book that first introduced the Haven to me. Technically the two series aren’t connected, but the club is a main setting for both, and a few of the characters cross over.