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Worth Keeping Paperback – December 23, 2013
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About the Author
Sue Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected. Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She is also a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell and lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family. Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to one day make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.
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On a lighter side, there are moments that made me laugh out loud. Owen is quite funny even when he isn't try. Especially when he meets Nick 's capuchin monkey, Socks. I don't think that the introduction of humor was disrespectful to the subject of the book. His humor allowed levity to enter Nick's sad life. Ultimately, they get their happy ending and are forever changed because of each other.
Now, yes, there is a good bit of hot sex in this book; however, it definitely serves a purpose and is an integral part of the story given Nick 's background. In the story it is used to convey not only lust, passion and ultimately love, but it serves as a tool to heal. This will be on my reread list. Worth Keeping is a keeper.
Nick had a terrible childhood of sexual abuse and betrayal by the one who should've protected him. It's left him scarred both inside and out, with nightmares that visit him often, and unrelenting self-hatred and grief that have him constantly contemplating suicide. One night has him finding a kindred soul washed up on the beach that changes his life completely and gives him the strength to fight for his soul. When the story starts Nick is a broken man living in seclusion from a psychotic ex-lover who used his past to control him. Being with a man who truly listens and cares for him has him slowly coming back to life. He starts seeing the good things in life, learns the value of trust, and becomes a stronger more confident man who can save himself when the past comes back to haunt him.
Owen too has been struggling with his past when he decides to end it all. Fate has different plans though when he's rescued by Nick who ends up rescuing him right back by giving him a reason to move forward. Owen's grief never felt as deep as Nick's as he hid behind a facade of humor and snarkiness. He accepted Nick unconditionally and never rushed him to do more or be more than he could handle. He ingratiated himself into Nick's life being the supportive lover but I didn't see as compelling of an evolution as I saw in Nick. His past didn't make him who he is, it was more a brief visit to the dark side.
From start to finish this was an intensely sexual read where sexual healing occurred through the many hot and heavy sexual encounters between Nick and Owen. The scenes took on a more erotic and playful feel the more Nick worked through his past. Along with a complicated yet appealing main couple came a cast of secondary characters, among them another gay couple Nick's adoptive father Don and a cute Capuchin monkey, that overwhelmed the story at times and made for a bit of a lag in the middle of the story. Another disappointing part of the story was the reappearance of Nick's abusive ex Brad who was truly psycho and blazed a path of vile destruction throughout the book and whose comeuppance wasn't near satisfying enough. Ultimately I wish this story had stayed focused on Nick and Owen and their mutual recovery and the shared happiness they found in each other's arms. Their story was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting and leaves me wanting to read more from this author.
This brilliantly written and profoundly beautiful book is not an easy read. Not because of language or characters or dialogue, but because of the deep suffering that one of the main characters (Nick) still endures as a result of horrendous sexual and physical abuse as a child, and later, from a sadistic "lover".
He is living the life of a hermit, as a lighthouse keeper on the Norfolk coast. When his dreams torment him, he walks the cliffs and contemplates jumping, to put an end to the endless pain that reverberates from his youth, and the mother who pimped him out to feed her drug habit.
One day, he spies a body washed up on the beach. Barely alive, Owen had gone overboard and washed up, literally, at Nick's feet. Nick takes him in, tends to him, and the rest is well, a difficult journey to happily-ever-after.
Owen is a stunning character, so full of compassion and care, so patient, so empathetic with Nick's suffering that, in saving Nick, he saves himself.
One other remarkable character is Nick's "dad", the policeman who saved his life, as an adolescent, adopted him, and raised him as his own son. This huge bear of a man is so filled with love and acceptance that he is all that's kept Nick alive these past ten-or-so years. Now it's Owen's turn.
I know my synopsis (a poor substitute for the real thing) sounds like melodrama, but there's nothing melodramatic about this book. The writing is absolutely first-class, the characters so lovingly and realistically drawn that any pathos is both understandable and authentic. Ms. MacNicol has really gotten inside the mind and soul of an abuse survivor, and beautifully evokes his emergence from the depths of despair.
As I said, it's not an easy read. The abuse the young Nick suffered will break your heart. His progress comes in fits and starts, interrupted by anger and self-loathing, though less and less, as the relationship between the two men grows.
When all is said and done, this is a beautifully written, important book about survivors and survival. It will warm your heart and leave you with hope.
Do not miss this one. It's a gem.