Review: Ten by Tia Fielding

A Love by Numbers Story

Can two broken men build one life?

Ten years.

That’s what Makai lost for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s been exonerated, but the abuse he suffered in prison isn’t so easy to leave behind. He heads to the one place he remembers being happy: Acker, Wisconsin, where he spent summers with his grandpa. Unfortunately, not everyone wants Makai there.

Ten days.

That’s how long Emil, now twenty-one, was held prisoner as a teenager. The mental and physical injuries he suffered at the hands of a drug trafficking ring still haunt him.

Nightmares, anxiety, and PTSD challenge the connection forming between Makai and Emil, though together, they might find a way to move beyond their pain and into a future—and a relationship—that both had thought impossible.

Now they just have to convince Emil’s father, the town sheriff. It won’t be easy with danger closer than they know….

In a word, boring. I admit I was anticipating angst and/or emotionality given the blurb. I was looking to be gutted, but that didn't come to pass. What did come to pass was an extensive amount of mundane daily activities and a whole lot of naps.

Makai is new to town having been recently exonerated of a crime he didn't commit. Ten years and an untold number of traumas survived, he's surprisingly well adjusted and not at all bitter. He meets Emil who was once kidnapped and tortured and is skittish as a colt. Emil continues to struggle with his disorder mightily.

Thanks to a precocious gender fluid child named Joie the two cross paths a few times and shortly thereafter begin one of the most ordinary and prosaic relationships I've ever read. Their days are filled with running errands to the closest major city, shopping, Netflix, playing with the kittens, working on the various buildings on Makai's property, going for walks, lunching at the local deli, going to the grocery store, making and eating meals and visiting with the locals.

Then napping. Extensive napping. I'm not sure either one of these guys can go ten minutes of semi-strenuous activity without napping shortly thereafter.

Truth be told, I'm more than a little jealous of their lifestyle. Must be nice being independently wealthy or, in Emil's case, having a boyfriend that is.

Despite the monotonous nature of their relationship I didn't hate this book. It's not memorable in any way but it is a low angst read that features a quiet sort of romance between two men. The character development is sorely lacking but the relationship development was fair. The problem is, I saw them as friends rather than partners. There's no chemistry between them but they are refreshingly frank with each other.

Even though their relationship develops over several months I still had trouble reconciling Emil's seeming mental health transformation within the context of their relationship. Seemed a little too easy  to me.

I did like the cat, Joie and the fact that the author chose the slow burn trope for them considering their respective backgrounds which isn't delved into too deeply, if that's a drawback, more automaton recalling events that happened to someone else. However, it's a well known fact that I heart the angst and pain, so YMMV.

An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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