Author: Roan Parrish
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So does running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.
Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.
Review: I placed the first book of this series, the stunning In The Middle of Somewhere, on my top ten list for 2015. This sequel, in which we find out what makes Colin (Daniel’s brother) tick, is no less exquisite. It is destined for my top ten list this year. Roan Parrish delivers absolutely exquisite character growth and overall brilliant writing in this captivating story of confrontation, caring, courage, and love.
*Note: This story dovetails with and parallels events in Daniel’s story, In The Middle of Somewhere, which must be read first. Out of Nowhere fills in the details as to what was fueling Colin’s actions in that first story, and also fills in many blanks for the reader regarding Daniel’s back-story. Intertwining these two story timelines was a powerful technique. Yes, there is a fair amount of Daniel, and Rex, in this story.
When I picked up this book, I expected great writing, I expected answers — what I didn’t count on was my heart getting yanked on so hard. I did know that Colin had better have a doozy of a reason for being so cruel to Daniel. Turns out, Colin is a pretty wounded guy beneath the tough façade he’s spent years presenting to the world. I found myself soundly rooting for him to overcome his demons under the patient umbrella of Rafe’s generous and caring heart.
This book is written in Colin’s first person POV, which is impactful in part due to the fact that one of Colin’s biggest issues is his inability to actually talk to other people — whether it involves the other person’s feelings or his own. He’s not capable of meaningful conversations, of truly expressing himself. Stilted, sneering conversations with Daniel come to mind. Colin has a lot of self- loathing going on, fueled in part by his internalized homophobia. His world has been insular, which was self-imposed to a degree. He’s a neat freak at home and he loves to run. Pretty symbolic stuff. Colin has spent his life working at the family garage alongside his brothers, Sam and Brian, and beneath the thumb of his domineering father. He has never allowed himself to question his lot in life, to explore, to make discoveries. To examine why he has always lashed out at and alienated Daniel. So, being in Colin’s head for his journey toward enlightenment was powerful, exhausting, and very effective.
Rafe rescues Colin from a bad situation, and ultimately rescues Colin from his preconceptions and his ingrained internal tethers. Once his relationship with Rafe prompted him to closely examine his life, Colin had so many profound thoughts, and reached so many realizations. Rafe is a sweet, strong, patient man. It was easy to fall for him immediately, which I did. It took Colin a bit longer though. Oh, he was attracted to Rafe immediately, but the idea of pursuing a relationship meant acknowledging the g-a-y word in some capacity. Not something Colin was comfortable with, to say the least. Rafe‘s patience with Colin was astounding. I love how he exposed him to new experiences, such as at the youth shelter program he had organized. The kids in the group became other people for Colin to compare himself to, to admire, to actually fucking CONSIDER as fellow human beings with actual problems. Colin had to process the fact that these kids could be honest with themselves and with each other, while he, a grown man, could not even say to them what he was. The kids at the shelter were awesome — great characters in their own right. Reading the scenes centered on them gave me some down time from Colin’s internal whirring and processing. The inside of Colin’s head was something which could have gotten overwhelming if he hadn’t had some external issues to focus on. Come to think of it, this was probably Rafe’s reasoning for getting Colin involved in volunteer work, hmm?
Colin has his eyes opened by a lot of events in this book. He was forced to see that even though Rafe had suffered some hard knocks and was gay, he took his life by the horns and was doing things: things that would make a difference for others, things that would give him a sense of purpose. Plus, Rafe had family who loved him, no matter what. Though Rafe was strong– he was in overdrive trying to help others and prove himself worthy to the world — he needed someone to stand with him. Colin found himself wondering if he was worthy. Colin also got to see the ugly side of society, in the form of people who would judge Rafe for his perceived imperfections. People who would completely toss Rafe aside due to a single attribute without considering who he was as a complete individual. Had Colin been guilty of this with Daniel? I found this to be such a great juxtaposition.
Colin finds he yearns for a relationship with Rafe, but he struggles with acknowledging this outside of his own four walls. Sex with Rafe is a healing, educational, freeing, powerful force. The sex scenes between these two men not only melted the sheets, but my heart as well. They were beautifully written and gave me great insight as to the character of each man, and also gave each man more insight to each other. I actually felt as though I was in bed with them, and I don’t say that to be titillating, it’s simply an expression of how real, raw and vivid these scenes are. Colin has never come close to feeling anything like he feels when he’s alone with Rafe. He can relax, let down his guard. He discovers he likes giving up some sense of control, of letting Rafe set the pace. He starts wanting more in life. He starts actually wanting a future. He finds this not only with Rafe, but perhaps with the last person he expected to.
Colin and Rafe engage in quite a bit of frank and confrontational conversations. Rafe is able to get Colin talking, to explore his emotions, true opinions and reasons for acting as he does. Their dialogue is a combination of frankness, sweetness, humor, and gut wrenching discovery. All of the dialogue in this story is stunning in its realism. The author created moods, sights and sounds in this story that had me feeling inserted directly into the pages.
Eventually Colin’s need for Rafe results in Daniel discovering Colin’s hidden truth. And yeah, Daniel is angry. Yet, he’s more than willing to listen. Colin is processing so much at this point, including the fact that he has held displaced anger for years toward Daniel, when it should have been aimed at his father and other brothers. How all of the men process Colin’s truth, individually and among themselves, is glorious writing. Colin has only ever wanted someone he can count on. Someone he knows will truly be there for him. Daniel needs answers from Colin. He needs to know why he was left feeling so alone and cast off from his family. Brian and Sam have questions too.
Experiencing Colin struggling with the push of his familiar existence, vs. the pull of a new, genuine existence with Rafe, was an emotional whirlwind — a very in depth, sometimes harsh, always gripping, depiction of an individual’s acceptance of his true self. This was astounding reading. One of those books where when I finished it, I realized I had been holding my breath, but was left with the utmost feeling of satisfaction.
I highly recommend this story and its prequel. Grab a few tissues, a good chunk of quiet time, and enjoy. I’m already anticipating what comes next from this author.