Author: EL Esch
Publisher: Loose Id
Rating: 3 stars
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: Through blurry eyes, Noah Barloc stares out at a world torn asunder by chaos and war. He’s been wandering in it far too long, alone and starving. He slumps down beside the rubble of some building, prepared to accept the end. The shadowy figure of a man appears on the horizon right before Noah’s world goes dark. Noah awakens in this man’s home, and learns the world is not so broken as he thought. Mankind has built cities underground and is thriving. Noah looks to his savior, Ban Reed, for guidance in this new world.
Ban is a hardened survivor of the Last War. He makes his living building bionic limbs for other survivors who, like him, lost limbs to the War, and hides his true, caring nature behind a cold, sarcastic facade. But for reasons unknown to Noah and Ban’s friends, Ban invites Noah into his home to recuperate, and then teaches Noah the trade of building exceptional bionics so that he can support himself.
A recent bad breakup turns Ban from a one-man show into a loose cannon that brings home a new sexual partner every night. Noah has come to care for Ban, to see past his cold exterior into that warm, caramel center. Noah can’t stand hearing the sounds of Ban’s nightly sexual romps, and can’t help wondering why Ban refuses him when he’s the one willing to give Ban the love and devotion he knows deep down that Ban wants.
Review: Noah expected to die. Instead, he woke up in a bed and was being tended to by a grumpy hero. Noah lost his arm during the Last War and found himself with just the right person to help him get a new one. His hero, Ban, has a prosthetic leg. Ban also has a boyfriend. A crappy boyfriend. After an unpleasant night Ban gets rid of his boyfriend. Unfortunately, Ban doesn’t take the break up well. Noah is busy having to adjust to his new life in a place safe from the war as he learns a new skill that will help him pay for his new arm. Ban may be a hero, but he’s got to eat. As he works for Ban, Noah realizes how much he really likes Ban. For the most part Ban doesn’t reciprocate. There are moments where Noah sees an amazingly compassionate and wounded Ban, but that gets replaced by a hardened and angry guy who brings home a new guy every night. It’s not until Noah finally gets his new arm that he gets Ban to be honest with him about not only his feelings, but his reasons for rescuing Noah.
The world building in this book was pretty good. If there’s ever a story written about the guy from the house in the center of town I’m going to be all over that. This book, though, was a little messy. I was engaged, and liked the story, but then there’d be a comment that made no sense. Like one guy who was just described as being in a bed was suddenly sleeping on a sofa. Or the guy with one arm put his palms, plural, on something. It was a lot of little oddities that left me feeling the book maybe wasn’t wholly ready for prime time. I also had some trouble accepting Ban suddenly went from being a monogamous boyfriend type to sleeping with everyone he could get his hands on. Yeah, he had a bad break up, but by his own admission it was something he saw coming. Why was the switch flipped?
I feel as though I liked this book well enough but more for the potential it showed than for what it was itself. Ban and Noah have an interesting hurt/comfort storyline in a world where comfort can be hard to come by, but I was distracted by things like who was sleeping on what and an errant palm. I was also more interested in the guy who lived in the house in the middle of town than what fate seemed to have in store for Ban and Noah. Although fate did seem to be playing a lovely and charming long game, even if Noah did have to work really hard to get Ban.