Review: Shelter by Ashley John

Fresh from his fourth stint in rehab, Elias James doesn’t have much to live for. His relationship with his family has never been so strained and with no real life of his own, he has nothing to live for. His overachieving twin sister and his ruthless mother's political success as Mayor of Havenmoore has left him empty. Getting high started as an act of rebellion but the addiction soon controlled his every waking moment.

Aspiring writer, Caden Walker, thought he had the perfect life until he discovered his boyfriend in bed with his best friend. Leaving everything behind in New York, he returns to Havenmoore to re-evaluate his life from his parent’s guest bedroom. When his mom offers him a job working for the charity she runs, helping people struggling with addiction, he’s not in a position to turn it down.

Caden never expected to find what he did, but when he is assigned to work with Elias, a reluctant attraction quickly blossoms into something deeper. Can Elias find in Caden the one thing he’s always searched for or will his addiction drag him under once again? Is Caden ready to let go of his New York dream to take a chance on something unexpected? Both men are faced with difficult times of change, but can they make it through the storm to find the shelter?

This story was pure Ashley John. This author regularly creates characters that are far from perfect, beautifully flawed one might say, puts them through the mill a little and then rescues them in the nick of time. I like characters that are far from perfect. For me characterisation is a huge part of any book. It matters not how good the storyline is, if I can't love the characters - and I really did love these two.

Elias, so unsure of his own worth, is broken. Not just broken but convinced he is beyond fixing. That he's not worthy of the effort it would take. The first step in recovering from an addiction is admiting there is a problem. The second is wanting to change that. It's the addict who needs to make the change. Who needs to want to change. Who needs to be ready to put in the hard work. Before any of that can happen the addict needs to feel they are worth the effort beating an addiction requires. It's a fucking hard thing to do. Elias really didn't feel he was worth the effort. He broke my heart a little. Bolshy and rebellious and everyone's pain in the arse, I wanted to grab the sad little boy he was inside and love him and mother him and heal him.

Of course, Ashley John had a better idea than that. He introduced Elias to Caden.

Caden was the sunshine to Elias's rain.

He wasn't having an easy time of it, but what he did have, what Elias sorely lacked, was a family who loved him. A sense of self worth, self esteem. It might have wavered for a minute but it was there, a fundamental foundation to build his life on. It shone through in his need to help others; to put others first. I think this is what I love about this book. There isn't an easy fix. It requires effort from Elias - meeting Caden made him want to be better. It didn't make him suddenly better, he still had to put in the effort.

Sure, at times, I wanted it a tad more real. Elias's mum was a tad cartoonishly nasty and Caden's mum a little bit too wonderful. The focus of the main characters was much wider. They were shades of grey and not so black and white. it worked. I rooted so hard for both of these guys. If you're a fan of Ashley John, I promise this book will not disappoint.

A copy of this book was given on exchange for an honest review.
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