L.A. WittFor the LivingAmber Allure, April 1, 2012 | 302 pages
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For the last year, Jay Warren has struggled to find the nerve to tell his wife he’s gay. He’s ashamed of hiding it all this time and he doesn’t want to hurt her, so every time he gets the chance to tell her, he freezes up. The guilt has been almost unbearable, but when his wife dies suddenly, Jay’s conscience threatens to eat him alive.
Funeral director Scott Lawson deals with the bereaved every day of his life, and he’s also all too familiar with the inside of the closet. He offers Jay some much-needed compassion and understanding, and from that connection comes a friendship that quickly—perhaps too quickly—turns into something more.
But are grief, guilt, and loneliness the only things tying them together? Or will Scott get tired of being used as an emotional crutch before Jay realizes what he has?
Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Coming Out of the Closet, Grief, Angst, Guilt
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
When Jay’s wife dies in a car crash he has quite a burden to carry. He not only has to deal with his grief but also struggles very hard with his guilt over not telling her that he’s gay when she was still alive. He finds understanding for his feelings and much-needed compassion in Scott, the funeral director who he meets at his wife’s funeral. Jay and Scott start out as friends but then they start to develop sexual feelings for each other as well, and soon their friendship turns into something more.
With a premise like this for a romance you know as a reader you’re getting yourself into some serious angst, heavy soul searching and deep feelings. And indeed, that’s what I got. This is definitely not a light, fluffy type of read. It’s rather emotional and it’s demanding a commitment from the reader to sit through some depressing and angsty stuff before you get the satisfaction of a happy ending.
If there’s one author I trust to guide me through this kind of thing, it’s definitely LA Witt. Her skillful pen always makes sure that I enjoy myself and feel deeply invested in her characters. Witt masters playing the spectrum of deeper feelings like no one else and she doesn’t disappoint in this novel either when she takes her readers on an emotional journey with her main characters.
However, at times I also felt a little uncomfortable with the ‘therapeutic’ nature of Jay and Scott’s relationship. Especially since they stayed on that track for a long time, until far into the book. On the one hand I really liked that Jay’s feelings of guilt are handled this seriously and not brushed aside once he found a new lover for the sake of the romantic developments. On the other hand I would’ve loved to see more of this couple after Jay had dealt with these unbearable feelings and after he had forgiven himself. So, for me the balance between ‘before’ and ‘after’ could’ve been a bit different. But I guess that’s just a matter of preference.
I was in the mood for a dramatic read and even prepared to shed some tears, and I’m glad that that’s exactly what I found when I picked up For the Living!